I’m no grammar expert, but once in a while there’s a battle on social media over the Oxford comma. The most recent argument I’ve seen has been over the wording on the new Brexit 50p.
The Oxford comma is sometimes referred to as the Serial comma. According to the dictionary, it is a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’ (e.g. an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect).
The missing Oxford comma after the word ‘prosperity’ has been the subject of debate. Some people think it should be as written ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ and others think it should be ‘Peace, prosperity, and friendship with all nations’.
In my opinion, you only need to use the Oxford comma when it is absolutely necessary or if it changes the meaning of the sentence.
For example, without the Oxford comma; ‘I had a party with the strippers, George Bush and Barack Obama.’ OR with the Oxford comma; ‘I had a party with the strippers, George Bush, and Barack Obama.’ The first sentence implies that you had a party with two strippers called George Bush and Barack Obama. The second sentence with the Oxford comma implies that you had a party with George Bush, Barack Obama, and some strippers. In this case the missing Oxford comma does change the meaning of the sentence so it is necessary.
As a writer I’m keen not to overuse punctuation. In the case of the Brexit 50p, the missing Oxford comma does not, in my opinion, change the meaning of the sentence, so I don’t think it is necessary. However, if you are a stickler for the traditional rules then yes, it should have the Oxford comma.