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Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson. Photo: Number 10 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

The campaign to get school children singing about how great Britain is the latest bizarre initiative in the Tory culture war, writes Jamal Elaheebocus

This week has seen the culture wars escalate in the classroom. Earlier in the week a report claimed “white working-class” pupils have been failed because of the concept of white privilege and now, in the latest attack from the government on “wokeism”, they have decided to back the singing of a “patriotic song” in schools on Friday .

The song, written by children from St John’s primary school in Bradford and chosen as the official song of “One Britain One Nation day”, features lyrics like “we are Britain and we have one dream, to unite all people in one great team” and a catchy outro: “Strong Britain, great nation” on loop.

The song has been written to celebrate OBON day, which is a campaign set up by former policeman Kash Singh which claims to want to “create a strong, fair, harmonious and a proud British Nation - celebrating patriotism and respect for all our people". Celebrating both patriotism and respect for all people seems to be a contradiction.

Alongside singing “One Britain One Nation”, school children are being encouraged by schools to wear red, white and blue. Some parents have rightly said they will boycott the event and take their children out of school for the day in protest.

The unionism behind the whole idea is badly disguised and has prompted a backlash, especially given that OBON day comes on the same day as Scottish school pupils begin their holidays. Nicola Sturgeon has labelled the whole idea “ludicrous”.

The song and the whole One Britain One Nation campaign manages to be both hilarious and terrifying, creep and cringeworthy. You can’t help but laugh at the song, though making school children sing about the greatness of their country is reminiscent to a degree of Hitler Youth and plenty have made the comparison to Nazi Germany.

What makes OBON day even more absurd is the fact that school students are fed patriotism all year round. From Union Jack bunting on V-day, to dressing up teenagers in full army uniform for Remembrance Day, patriotism is never in short supply.

However, it is these kind of surreal and crazy events which demonstrate the absurdity of the culture wars. An imaginary enemy has been created in the form of “wokeism” and depicted as a threat to every part of society, while the real threat to society, in the form of the Tories and the right-wing media, continue to run rampant.

As with every other aspect of the culture wars, the Tories are attempting to use patriotism and obsessive flag-waving to hide the gross inequalities and institutional racism which is endemic to society. It is part of a continual attempt to lump everyone together under the “British” label and mask the fact that in reality the majority of people have nothing in common with the British ruling class and billionaires.

Thanks to the bizarre paranoia amongst sections of the ruling class, the culture wars are here to stay. However, few things will manage to top the “One Britain One Nation” anthem in terms of comic value.

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