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Thursday 24 June 2021

Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Stupid Boy

Tomorrow is OBON Day, which may sound rather like the acronym OBN used by Private Eye magazine - which stands for Order of the Brown Nose - but means something rather different. OBON means One Britain One Nation, and OBON day is meant to instil pride in Britishness. Which means Northern Ireland has already been forgotten.

Look Uncle Arthur, I'm in the news again

So who is behind it? As the BBC has reported, “One Britain One Nation (OBON) Day, at which children are encouraged to sing a patriotic song, is being promoted by retired police officer Kash Singh … The Department for Education - which has responsibility for schools in England - said it supported the ‘broad aims’ of the day but it was not endorsing any specific materials produced by the campaign”. Ah, but that’s not quite the whole story.

Earlier this week, in response to Tory MP Philip Davies, who continues to be suffered by voters in the Shipley constituency, Gavin “Stupid Boy” Williamson, who claims to be Education Secretary, gave his personal backing to the campaign, although the DfE later modified this by telling “The department has not asked people to sing songs or endorsed any specific materials for One Britain One Nation day”. And it got worse.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she first assumed the UK government's endorsement of the idea was a ‘spoof’ when she saw it [many schools in Scotland will have closed for the Summer break by tomorrow]”. Also, “A spokesperson for the Labour-run Welsh government, responsible for schools in Wales, said: ‘Education is a devolved matter and the Welsh government has not been engaged in this project.’

Apparently, only schools in the Bradford area are likely to take part in this stunt, which has caused Andrew Vine at the Yorkshire Post, a few miles away in Leeds, to muse “THERE is something deeply disturbing about the notion of children all over the country being shepherded into school halls tomorrow and made to sing a supposedly patriotic song”.

You'll have to speak up, I'm a bit Mutt And Jeff

Do go on. “That’s because it calls to mind those chilling images from totalitarian regimes - both past and present - where children for whom schooling is less a matter of education than indoctrination are compelled to sing a daily song in praise of the motherland and its glorious leader”. Luke Harding at the Guardian had some examples of the genre.

For North Korea, it is a rousing anthem with a bold opening line: “Let morning shine on the silver and gold of our land.” For Vladimir Putin, it’s a chanson-like melody, Where does the motherland begin?, from his favourite Soviet spy film … There have been inevitable comparisons with the Hitler Youth and with the school song sung by millions of young East German communist pioneers: ‘Uns’re Heimat’, or ‘Our homeland’”.

Kash Singh’s enthusiasm and sincerity is not being questioned: the problem is that having school-age children sing so-called “patriotic songs” has a seriously bad recent history, stirring memories of totalitarian rĂ©gimes that prevailed across mainland Europe from the 1920s right through to the fall of eastern European Communist Governments at the end of the 80s - as well as those that linger on in countries like North Korea.

That is why OBON Day has brought a response which combines outrage and derision. And that’s why Gavin Williamson is full value for his nickname. Stupid boy, indeed.

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Arnold said...


'It was written by CHILDREN!': Retired policeman behind 'One Britain, One Nation' campaign blasts 'diabolical' social media trolls for mocking song by school pupils as young as seven

Seven year olds do not spontaneously come up with jingoistic bullshit like this.

Mr Larrington said...

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist–Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. Glad we cleared that one up.

Is it just me who, on perusing the lyrics of that so-called “song”, immediately thought of Laibach's late 1980's output, like for e.g. https://youtu.be/ZZAD7W3M4zc or https://youtu.be/LB9lObWclFQ?

Anonymous said...

Add also https://nation.cymru/news/conservative-mp-launches-campaign-to-put-a-portrait-of-the-queen-in-every-british-home/

Anonymous said...

Fuck all, that, compared to gun-crazy Yanks, their "pledge of allegiance", John Wayne, America First, their "Department of HOMELAND security" and flags in the front garden.

The triumph of Operation Paperclip and Joe McCarthy in the Land Of The Fee and The Home Of The Crave.

Mr Larrington said...

If Scotland ever gets that promised spaceport I propose that its first mission is to fire all these flag-noncing berks into the sun.

Auntie Nicola? Pray make it so!

iMatt said...

I'm surprised "Tomorrow Belong's To Me" was not on the cards!

Anonymous said...

Tommorow, 25th June is also George Orwell's birthday,how apt.
It's my mother's birthday too!

Anonymous said...

Compulsory lederhosen to be worn by all under nines.
Next week twenty seven folk dances based around the traditional folk musics of Milton Keynes.
Also available for block bookings - the metropolitan police (non blackface) Morris dance team

Oh … And just to say … I also immediately thought of Laibach