‘Of course if people are not proud to be British, or of our flag or Queen, they don’t have to live in the U.K. Perhaps they should move to another country they prefer?’ So said Lia NIci, Conservative Member of Parliament for Grimsby and Councillor for Scartho Ward. It came in response to a BBC interview with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when the journalist commented on the size of the flag behind him.
In a way she is right. We can, if we so choose, to upsticks and go and live in a foreign country, if you have the financial wherewithal, the necessary points, earning potential or whatever restrictions are now in place to prevent casual migration.
In a way she is so very wrong. As a member of parliament her obligations are quite clear:
Their primary responsibility is to act in the national interest. They must also act in the interests of their constituents where this does not override their primary responsibility. Finally, if they belong to a political party, they may act in the interests of that party, subordinate to the other two responsibilities.
She may feel that her comments were in the national interest, though this is tenuous, yet they were certainly not in the interests of all her constituents. No doubt there will be many in Grimsby who agree with her nationalsitic hubris, while others will be vehemently opposed to what she says. Many, if not most will not care much for the flag or the Queen yet still are entitled to her representation.
Unlike MPs, people who were born and raised in this country do not have to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown. Having republican or anti-royal views are equally as valid and legal as pro-monarchy opinions. Nici, like it or not, still represents those in her constituency of any persuasion.
Very few people get to choose their nationality. For most it is an accident of birth. As someone who takes an opposing view to Nici, I don’t see why it is I that should be asked to leave the country, it is just as much my home as any others’. As an individual she can think and say what she likes, but as a MP she needs to reflect the concerns of all people of Grimsby.