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Boris Johnson blasted for ‘barmy brainwashing event’ as schoolchildren made to sing ‘strong Britain, great nation’

·2-min read
Critics accused the prime minister of endorsing a ‘brainwashing event’ (POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Critics accused the prime minister of endorsing a ‘brainwashing event’ (POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

The government is facing criticism and ridicule after it emerged schoolchildren are being made to sing a bizarre patriotic song in between classes.

The Department for Education this week announced it would encourage schools to celebrate One Britain One Nation Day on 25 June.

Celebrations for the event include singing a song called the “OBON Day Anthem 2021”, which ends with the children repeatedly chanting, “Strong Britain, great nation”.

It also includes the chorus: “We are Britain and we have one dream, to unite all people in one great team.”

And it refers to Britain as having “widened our island’s shores” – an apparent reference to territorial expansion reminiscent of “Land of Hope and Glory”.

Critics said the flag-waving felt “un-British” and mocked the government for pushing “weird made-up rituals”.

“Boris Johnson’s barmy brainwashing event, where he wants children to sing a silly song without any history or tradition, feels the most un-British celebration of Britain ever,” said Daisy Cooper, the education spokesperson of the Liberal Democrats.

“Parents didn’t ask for it. Wales wasn’t consulted, and Scottish school children will be on holiday. There’s nothing One Britain about it.

“What children need and parents are asking for is real investment in our children’s futures with a fully-funded catch-up plan – not weird made-up rituals.”

The song was also derided by Tory MP Caroline Nokes, who tweeted a preview of the tune and said: “I can’t unhear this (however fervently I wish I could).”

The SNP’s Angus MacNeil added to the chorus of criticism on Twitter, branding the song “imperial stupidity”.

The Department for Education said in a statement that it was “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 event is organised by One Britain One Nation, a group that says it wants “to create, a strong, fair, harmonious and a proud British Nation, celebrating patriotism and respect for all our people”.

The group, which claims the song was written by schoolchildren in Bradford, says its mission is “to promote the concept of responsible citizenship; to instil a sense of personal pride in all our citizens of being British and create a real sense of collective identity regardless of one’s background”.

The campaign was launched by former policeman Kash Singh and those backing it include actress Joanna Lumley, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis and Conservative peer Norman Tebbit.

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