Everything we know about the One Britain One Nation campaign

<p>Schoolchildren have been asked to sing a song on Friday</p>

Schoolchildren have been asked to sing a song on Friday

PA Archive

Everyone is obsessed with the government backing a campaign to make schoolchildren sing a cursed song about how great Britain is this Friday.

The Department for Education said the campaign, which also involves clapping for a minute for those who helped during the coronavirus pandemic, will help children learn about “shared values of tolerance, kindness, pride and respect”.

Unsurprisingly, the song has been bashed to bits on social media, with some saying it reminds them of fascist songs in the past and others sadly reminded of Brexit. Yes, the campaigners have certainly created ‘One Britain One Nation’ unity. But, it appears, not necessarily in the way they might have liked.

Here’s everything we know about how this somewhat bizarre idea managed to see the light of day:

What is the campaign?

Simply put, One Britain One Nation is a campaign to bring the nation together and celebrate everything that is good about Britain.

While the government has supported it, the event was set up by Kash Singh, a former police officer from Bradford. It lists its aim as being “to create, a strong, fair, harmonious and a proud British Nation, celebrating patriotism and respect for all our people”.

A key way of doing so? Having a day in which these values are honoured.

So, on Friday 25 June, children are meant to dress in red and white and sing an anthem written by children at St John’s CE Primary School, Bradford.

How did it start?

Singh trademarked the idea in 2005 then set up the campaign in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 2013 after retiring from the police force in 2012.

He told Times Radio: “We started the concept in Bradford and West Yorkshire, and it’s been very, very successful indeed, so what we want to look at is taking it across the nation.

“It was something that was born from my dream as a police officer, in terms of what I’d see, in terms of my passion, pride and frustration, and something that I feel needed to be done in this country.

“This country is a brilliant country. I came to this country as a six-year-old kid who couldn’t speak a word of English. My parents were labourers, they worked in a factory and foundry, and there are fantastic people in this country.

“One of the things that was missing for me was what we need to do, is we need an organisation that the people of this country can align themselves to, to showcase their passion, pride and love for this great nation.

“I think we need to celebrate 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.”

In 2016, it received £10,000 in funding from the National Lottery to help get it off the ground. In 2018, it received the same sum. It’s a shame the money didn’t go to a professional band. Sorry, Bradford schoolchildren.

Are any politicians linked to it?

We’ve counted six. Speaking in Parliament in 2018, Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns announced that she and fellow Tory MP Andrew Rosindell had just launched the One Britain One Nation all-party group to support it.

In case you need reminding, Jenkyns is a Brexiteer who once shared a wrong image of the Union flag despite her apparent patriotism.

And if Rosindell rings a bell, that’s because he is the flag-loving MP who called for it to be mandatory for the Union flag to be flown at all schools in the UK. He is also a member of the Flag Institute, which is a group that offers advice and guidance about flags and their usage.

Anyway, in her speech, Jenkyns said it would be “working with schools to promote pride in our country, and respect, tolerance and inclusion regardless of one’s background.”

She asked: “Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the founder of One Britain One Nation, Kash Singh, for the hard work he is doing to promote unity in our communities and schools?

Theresa May replied: “It is absolutely right that we pay tribute to those like Kash Singh who are working to promote inclusion and unity in our communities, and it is important that we see that the values of respect and inclusion, regardless of one’s background”.

Despite that rousing sentiment, only two other MPs joined the group: Labour’s John Grogan, who lost his seat in 2019 and Tory MP Jack Lopresti who just so happens to be married to... Andrea Jenkyns. A supportive husband, then.

Nevertheless, this year Esther McVey and Philip Davies – both Tory MPs – mentioned the group in Parliament on separate occasions and asked the government to endorse it. Davies mentioned it yesterday to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and it looks like it really made an impact.

Who else supports it?

What’s a campaign worth if it doesn’t have a celebrity endorsement? Nothing! Thank goodness Joanna Lumley is on board, then. She said:

“The aims and aspirations of OBON are extremely impressive and timely. I wish the project all the success it so richly deserves and I support its vision of one Nation with all my heart.”

And who isn’t so keen?

Nicola Sturgeon for one. She said she first assumed the UK Government’s backing for the idea was a “spoof” when she saw it on social media.

Speaking after meeting with EU citizens living in Scotland and organisations supporting people to apply for settled status to remain in the UK, she said: “I’m trying to imagine the outrage there would be if the Scottish Government was insisting or even encouraging Scottish school kids to sing some song about how great Scotland is.

“People would be – and rightly so – up in arms about it.

“Every aspect of it is ludicrous and I think it says sadly so much that we know about the misguided priorities, the hypocrisy and just the ridiculous nature of a lot of what this UK Government is doing.”

And that, friends, is the inspiring story of how one man lobbied for a patriotic nightmare to be drilled into the nation’s consciousness by the government.

The Conversation (0)