Edinburgh shuns ‘celebration of Britishness’ Tattoo proposal

Tory group wants more celebration of Britishness at the Tattoo. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Tory group wants more celebration of Britishness at the Tattoo. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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THE Edinburgh Tattoo and New Year fireworks should be used for citizenship ceremonies as a celebration of Britishness, a Conservative campaign group said today.

A report by the Modern Britain group argued that events to mark the naturalisation process, when people from overseas become British citizens, should take place in “iconic” settings across the UK rather than in town halls. The group claimed Britain did not pull off the ritual “with the same elan as the USA and Australia”.

Should a citizenship ceremony also take place at the Tattoo.

Should a citizenship ceremony also take place at the Tattoo.

But the idea of more spectacular settings for citizenship ceremonies failed to strike much of a chord here.

Edinburgh East SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said he was “uneasy” about the proposal.

He said: “Far be it from me to be a killjoy, but it seems to me almost exploitative, trying to turn people being granted citizenship into some form of spectacle.

“This is a serious matter of people being conferred with civic and political rights.

“No-one graduates in the middle of the Tattoo. You’re presented with your degree at a formal occasion and you can party in the evening.

“I think you need a bit of solemnity, dignity, respect and formality about this. If people want to celebrate they can make their own arrangements.”

The report said some citizenship ceremonies were effective, but many failed to live up to the importance of the occasion. “A portrait of the Queen on an easel and the national anthem being played from a CD player are the enduring images in the public mind,” it said.

It said the UK should follow Australia by holding citizenship ceremonies as “adjuncts to great national occasions”.

It said: “In Britain, this could be achieved at Scotland’s Edinburgh Tattoo, the London’s Lord Mayor’s Parade, New Year Fireworks and Trooping the Colour and the Welsh Eisteddfod, amongst others. It should become routine at great national sporting events such as the FA Cup Final and Wimbledon.”

Binita Mehta-Parmar, author of the report, said: “Swearing allegiance to the Queen and recognising the values of our country is the ultimate display of Britishness.

“Instead of holding these events in town halls, we should be celebrating new Britons at iconic British events.”

But Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie, who regularly conducts citizenship ceremonies, said the occasions were dealt with well in Edinburgh.

And he was not impressed by the idea of incorporating them into the Tattoo or fireworks.

He said: “I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think it’s what people would want. They like the intimate service.”

He said between 20 and 40 people became citizens every fortnight at 45-minute ceremonies currently held in Lothian Chambers, but soon to move to the City Chambers.

“Many of them come suited and booted and in their finery and they will often go out to a restaurant afterwards,” he said.

“Sometimes people will come from overseas to see their relatives become British citizens.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to thinks it’s a great ceremony and it makes them feel welcome. I don’t think they need fireworks.”

Tory councillor Joanna Mowat said the group had not thought through the practicalities of the Tattoo idea.