Scotland: Philip Hammond says he ‘fears for the Union’
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The SNP and Scottish Government ministers have hit out at the Department for Education (DfE) supporting One Britain One Nation (OBON) Day through the singing of a patriotic song. The lyrics include: “We are Britain, And we have one dream, To unite all people, In one great team.”
It ends with the repeating lines: “Strong Britain. Great Nation”.
The DfE said yesterday it is encouraging schools across the UK to celebrate OBON Day on Friday, so “children can learn about our shared values of kindness, pride and respect”.
The OBON campaign was set up by retired police inspector Kash Singh and aims to instil pride in Britain.
While education is the responsibility of the Scottish Government in Scotland, OBON wants school pupils across the UK to dress up in red, white and blue and sing the “anthem”, called One Britain One Dream.
But SNP MP Angus McNeil compared Boris Johnson to the Soviets for encouraging the anthem’s singing.
The Western Isles MP tweeted: “Soviet Union wanted children in Baltics to celebrate ‘One Union One Nation Day’ and sing ‘We are Soviet’ anthem.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the concept was “ludicrous” and added: “I have to say when I saw it on social media yesterday I assumed it was a spoof, I didn’t think it was real.
“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. It’s ludicrous and it perhaps says everything about the disinterest the UK Government has in Scotland that they’re asking this to happen on the day Scottish schools go off on their holiday.”
She stressed: “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.”
Cal Dempsey, treasurer of Young Scots For Independence, claimed the campaign is “dangerously close to ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich’,” in reference to Nazi Germany.
A Welsh Government spokesman also raised concerns and added: “Education is a devolved matter and the Welsh Government has not been engaged in this project.”
The idea has been played down by one of the Conservative Party’s own MPs, Caroline Nokes.
The MP for Romsey and Southampton North retweeted a preview of the OBON song saying: “I can’t unhear this (however fervently I wish I could).”
But in a change of tone today, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the department had “not asked people to sing songs or promote any specific materials for One Britain One Nation day.”
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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “The Prime Minister supports schools promoting fundamental British values, including tolerance and respect.
“We endorse One Britain One Nation’s aims to help children learn about equality, kindness, pride.”
Downing Street said the celebration date had been chosen by OBON, not the UK Government.
Mr Singh said the concept was “born from my dream as a police officer” after coming to the UK as a six-year-old boy who “couldn’t speak a word of English”.
He said he set up the campaign in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 2013 after retiring from the police force in 2012.
Mr Singh 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.
“Some people may have this perception that not everybody is proud of this country – let me tell you, people like me, and the millions of people who’ve settled in this country from other parts of the world, are so proud of 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.”
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