NICOLA Sturgeon has condemned a move by Boris Johnson’s Government to ask schools across the UK to celebrate One Britain One Nation (OBON) Day on Friday saying she thought it was a “spoof” when she first read about it.
The Department for Education has said that it is encouraging schools across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to participate in the event, which one parent told The National is “creepy” last month.
The scheme has also been mocked by many Scots over ignorance of the school year in Scotland. It asked schools to celebrate on Friday, but many Scottish schools break up for the summer holidays on Thursday.
Schools in the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council area signed up to celebrate the day, which one Scottish parent expressed their concerns over.
Asked about the initiative at an event for EU citizens today, the First Minister said: “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 added: “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.
“Meanwhile, EU citizens that have been here for most of the lives and are working so hard to help make the country what it is are having to jump through hoops to stay here.”
Education is devolved but OBON want school pupils across the UK to dress up in red, white and blue and sing their “anthem”, called One Britain One Dream, which ends with the repeating lines: “Strong Britain. Great Nation”.
The organisers also state they want to “re-appropriate” the Union flag, which children are encouraged to wave on the day.
The initiative was set up by former West Yorkshire Police inspector Kash Singh, with the aim of creating a “strong, fair, harmonious and proud British nation, celebrating patriotism and respect for all our people”.
An anonymous parent told The National last month: “History has shown that movements like that breed fanatics. For lack of a better word, its creepy.”
Earlier this week in the Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson called OBON “an amazing project”, claiming it is “so incredibly important that schools do take part in it”.
“We’ve already asked schools to be able to participate in this and we are very happy from the dispatch box to reiterate that endorsement of this project and encourage them to play their part in it.”
On social media, the Department for Education wrote: “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.”
OBON say it “wants to create a spirit of inclusion with a collective purpose and a common future where we all seek to eliminate, hatred, intolerance and discrimination of any kind”.
A spokesperson told The National the organisation wants the public to recognise “we are all one people with a role to play in the life of our nation where everyone must feel happy, safe and valued”.