I have been really opposed to taking the Britishness test ever since they instituted it in 2007. When it came time for my visa renewal I was so opposed to it (and so convinced that we'd be moving back to the U.S. in another 2 years' time) that I didn't apply for permanent leave to remain since the test was required. I've always thought that it was a time-wasting and sneaky way of a) making sure everyone can speak English in a way that doesn't appear racist and b) getting more money out of already broke immigrants.
I was wrong.
I am in the process of studying for the stupid test since it seems unavoidable now, and although I still feel it's inappropriate for me to be taking it, I can understand why it's mandatory.
The test seems to be aimed at asylum seekers and other vulnerable people. The study materials highlight all of the rights and privileges granted to people living in a democracy. They reassure people that the law is there to help them and protect them, not exploit them. The study materials highlight the fact that women are treated as equals in the UK. They teach people where they can go for help if they need it. Oh, and they throw in a whole bunch of really boring stuff about the history, government, and demographics of the country.
And as far as the English thing is concerned, well, a lot of people have come here from countries where they were marginalized. If they don't learn to speak English and integrate, even if it's just a little bit, they will be marginalized here as well.
So here I sit, most of the way through the study guide for the Britishness test, totally humbled. I was being far too cynical. They really are just trying to help.
It's not very often you can say that sincerely about ANY government.
It probably won't happen again.