THE founder of Bradford-based campaign One Britain One Nation has staunchly defended his creation after it drew heavy criticism online.
Former Bradford police officer Kash Singh founded OBON, and said he was “appalled and dismayed” by the vitriolic attacks levelled at his event online after it was promoted by the Government.
The Department for Education tweeted encouraging all UK schools to get involved in the event, which has resulted in a backlash accusing OBON of being “forced nationalism” and reminiscent of North Korea and Nazi Germany.
A host of public figures such as comedian Nish Kumar and radio presenter James O’Brien, had criticised the event “without the full facts”, Mr Singh said.
The OBON song ‘We Are Britain’ was also lambasted online and mocked by James O’Brien on his radio show, which angered Mr Singh.
The song was composed by pupils at St John’s CE Primary School in Bierley for OBON.
He said: “It’s disappointing people are jumping on this without the full facts.
“This is a song written by seven and eight year olds who wanted to deliver a message of pride and togetherness, they put their heart into it and want to say we are one team.
“How good could our country be if we all felt like that? It’s sad for me because we just want to better our country.
“We want every child to realise their potential and create a shared sense of belonging.
“This is my passion, I want to give something back to this country. I came here aged six and could not speak English and fulfilled my dreams and I want other children to feel the same.
“There is nothing in our campaign that is negative, it’s about eliminating hate and spreading pride and love in our children.
“We have people like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, representing their country at the highest level, and they get so much abuse, is that right?
“We need to eradicate that, we teach British values like respect and support teachers in instilling these values into our children to make them good citizens.
“We’ve got 150 schools in Bradford taking part on Friday and more in West Yorkshire, we want to take this nationally and Government’s support helps with that. We want to progress with enthusiasm and good intentions.
“The Government isn’t involved, all they did was send a tweet, but the support from MPs like Philip Davies has been great.”
OBON Day takes place on June 25, with a 10am clap for those who worked throughout the Covid pandemic, followed by the OBON song.
“People need to look at themselves in the mirror and think, are we really going to criticise children?
“We all have a role to play in getting rid of discrimination and no child should be subjected to hate.
“You have to take Twitter with a pinch of salt, it doesn’t reflect the general population. Comparing this to North Korea; it’s nonsense. I’m appalled and dismayed and I give these people no credence.”
One point raised on Twitter was that schools in Scotland will be shut on June 25, and Mr Singh said “of course” the date can be addressed in future celebrations, and that he wants to embrace all four nations in the UK.
Shipley MP Philip Davies has long been a supporter of OBON, and labelled its critics “morons”.
He said: “It highlights how idiotic these people are, how can anyone argue with a campaign bringing people together with a pride of our country and British values, and a song produced by Bradford primary school pupils.
“It highlights to the world what a set of morons these people are.
“Kash should be hugely proud of what he has and continues to achieve bringing communities together; it’s a fantastic initiative.
“The more they complain the more ordinary, decent people will see how great OBON is, a lot more people know about OBON now than before so they have done it a massive favour.”