THE proposal by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that an oath of allegiance to British values should be introduced is a timely and welcome contribution to the debate about cohesion amongst the country’s diverse communities.
Common values such as tolerance, a belief in freedom of expression, and an appreciation of the importance of equality lie at the heart of our democracy and way of life and need to be promoted more vigorously and explicitly than they have been in the past.
Requiring public officials to take such an oath, whether they be the most senior civil servants or school governors, would be a useful method of focusing minds on the promotion of the British way of life.
But alongside such an oath for those in positions of influence at either a national or local level, there should be an equal emphasis on ensuring that immigrants coming to Britain also understand that they must embrace our core values if they are to live here.
The report on social cohesion by Dame Louise Casey, which raised the idea of swearing allegiance to Britain, contained much that was disturbing, most notably the finding that some sections of society did not accept commonly-held values.
That cannot be allowed to continue, because it is a formula for division, ethnic segregation and, potentially, radicalisation.
Tackling these problems is long overdue, and the task of overcoming entrenched anti-British views in some communities will not be easy. But introducing an oath of allegiance would at least be a start.