"our duty to the City"
Gordon Brown, unelected to the post of Prime-Minister-in-waiting, will be pronouncing on citizenship today. His latest idea is that immigrants should carry out community tasks before they are granted citizenship.
A considerable number of immigrants - and asylum-seekers - are involved in community work and voluntary organisations. They do this as a gift, not under compulsion. Making it a compulsory task devalues the gift.
Compulsory community work will turn voluntary organisations into the police of the immigration services. They will cease to be "voluntary" if their role incorporates the organisation of forced labour. The position of voluntary organisations is already compromised as they are drawn into the role of government agencies.
Immigration is strictly limited and asylum-seekers (included children) are frequently imprisoned and brutally deported. Now anyone desperate for the safety of citizenship is to be forced into unpaid work. And the spin adds that the citizenship may be removed after it has been bestowed.
There's a word for compelled, unpaid labour. It's "slavery".
This is the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of the slave-trade - one of the best moments in British history. Gordon Brown wants to celebrate Britishness and British history. Perhaps he'd like to take us back in time too.