Gavin Williamson faces criticism over One Britain One Nation campaign

UK Secretary for Education Gavin Williamson has sparked outrage and ridicule after suggesting that UK school children recite a new “patriotic” song with the chorus line “Strong Britain, Great Nation” on Friday to commemorate “One Britain, One Nation” (OBON) Day.

The song, part of a campaign by former policeman Kash Singh, has been praised by Williamson who encouraged all UK schools to take part in the campaign later this week.

“We’re encouraging schools across the UK to celebrate One Britain, One Nation Day on 25 June, when children can learn about our shared values of tolerance, kindness, pride and respect,” the Department of Education tweeted on Monday.

Advertisements for the campaign featured a video of Bradford students singing the song while waving around flags for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well as OBON banners.

The lyrics to the song say “We are British and we have one dream / To unite all people in one great team” before ending with the words “Strong Britain, Great Nation!” repeated four times.

Some critics have pointed out the logistical issues in the campaign citing that most Scottish schools will have closed for Summer holidays before this Friday’s planned event, and that Northern Ireland is not even part of Great Britain. Others have gone so far as to liken the song to troubling “patriotic” anthems from North Korea and Russia.

Comparisons have also been made to the song “Uns’re Heimat”, or “Our Homeland” which was sung by millions of young East German communist pioneers. The general consensus has labeled the campaign as “brainwashing”, “stomach churning”, and “hyper-creepy”.

In response some parents have threatened to boycott the event by removing their children from schools on Friday. One Twitter user asked Williamson: “Leaving aside the significant concern that this all seems very Hitler Youth, why on earth are you encouraging singing in schools during a global pandemic when cases are rising in schools?”

LBC host James O’Brien played the song on his show on Wednesday morning saying, “I wish I was joking. It’s real. It’s actually real. I don’t know how much time we can spend on it without collapsing into fits of giggles coupled with a really weird sense of desolation.”

Campaign director Singh argued that the campaign has been “very successful indeed” in Bradford and West Yorkshire. “This country is a brilliant country. I came to this country as a six-year-old who couldn’t speak a word of English. My parents were laborers, they worked in a factory and a foundry. There are fantastic people in this country.”

“I think we need to celebrate that and create this spirit of oneness and togetherness, and showcase that we’re all one people of this country regardless of where you’re from,” he added.

Politicians Norman Tebbit and MP Brandon Lewis have joined Williamson in support of the campaign.

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