I returned to London on Tuesday morning after spending the (very sunny) bank holiday weekend celebrating our constituency’s first conservative councillor in years.
On Tuesday afternoon I met with a representative from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on anti-Semitism. This was a hugely beneficial meeting during which I reiterated my full support to stamping out anti-Semitism in society. I offered to use every parliamentary procedure I could, including submitting written questions and asking oral questions in the chamber, to increase the prominence of this issue amongst parliamentarians.
After this, I met with the leaders of a relatively new organisation called Dogbuddy. Through its interface, this company enables dog lovers (like myself) the opportunity to look after or walk other people’s pets. For example, if someone is planning to go on holiday they could find a trusted dog sitter to look after their pet whilst they are away. Or if someone is too frail to exercise their dog properly, they could find a suitable dog walker. To me, this seems like such a great idea. However, the company is concerned that some upcoming legalisation might create excess bureaucracy for all dog lovers concerned with added costs and less freedom to help out look after other people’s pets. To try and prevent this, I offered to make representations to the government to ensure that they are fully aware of the consequences of the proposed legalisation.
On Tuesday evening, I set up and participated in the first inaugural session of the One Britain One Nation All Party Parliamentary Group (OBON APPG). Directly following this, I hosted a Parliamentary Reception for OBON which was attended by MPs, Peers and educational and business leaders.
One Britain One Nation (OBON) is essentially about bringing people together, regardless of race, religion or background, to celebrate what unites us all: being British. Despite our many differences, we all share common values of compassion, tolerance and respect and it is important that we take time to celebrate this.
The OBON campaign was established by Kash Singh, a former police Inspector from Bradford, who was on the front line during the infamous Bradford race riots in 2001. Kash was tasked with restoring order to the Manningham area of Bradford, which had been hit by what was described as the worst riots in Britain. Kash took control of the situation and within 18 months he was presiding over one of the lowest crime rate areas in the district – an achievement that won him the West Yorkshire Police Oscar, the Criminal Justice Award. This was down to his unique interpersonal skills which allowed him to sooth tensions and encourage reconciliation. It is these same skills that make Kash so well suited to heading the OBON project. His vision of a united, tolerant and respectful society is, I think, one that we should all strive for.
I first heard of the OBON project back in 2017 when I visited a local school in my constituency. I was genuinely taken aback by how excited the students were about this idea. It was truly infectious to see the enthusiasm with which they waved the flag and sang the national anthem. There was a real buzz in the air. It is this enthusiasm that I would like to spread to all parts of the country.
The newly formed OBON All Party parliamentary Group will work tirelessly to promote this idea within Parliament, to build momentum across society with the hope that the concept can be rolled out to all regions in the United Kingdom. One issue I will seek to build support for in Parliament is a national day of celebration, where everyone can reflect and celebrate what it means to be British. France have Bastille Day. The US have Thanksgiving. But for one reason or another, we do not have one major day each year where people are able to feel patriotic about living in this great land. With support for OBON building momentum each day, this now seems like a realistic prospect in the future.
OBON will no doubt be instrumental in shaping our national character at home. However, I would like to go one step further than this. I would like to shape the way we are portrayed to the world. We all know that we will soon leave the EU. I was a passionate advocate of leaving but whatever your views on Brexit are, OBON provides the perfect opportunity to encourage pride and self-confidence in our country. This will be crucially important in a post-Brexit world when we will need to stand tall, once more, as a sovereign, independent and prosperous country.
My vision for a post-Brexit Britain is one of hope. We will be a global, free-trading nation, able to speak to other countries on equal terms, without restrictions or limitations. Businesses will have the confidence to export our world renowned produce and services wherever they choose. We will be in a position to welcome skilled migrants from developing and developed countries on an equal basis as European ones. This along with the OBON project at home will convince the world that we are a strong, prosperous country that made the right decision to the leave the EU.
On Wednesday, during Prime Minister’s Questions, I was selected by the speaker to ask the following about the OBON project:
‘Yesterday, with my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), we launched the One Britain One Nation all-party group, which will be working with schools to promote pride in our country, and respect, tolerance and inclusion regardless of one’s background. Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the founder of One Britain One Nation, Kash Singh, for the hard work he is doing to promote unity in our communities and schools?’
I and Kash were very happy with response:
‘It is absolutely right that we pay tribute to those like Kash Singh who are working to promote inclusion and unity in our communities, and it is important that we see that the values of respect and inclusion, regardless of one’s background, are ones that everybody recognises and practises. We have changed the law so that schools have to actively promote our fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs. I am absolutely clear that nobody’s path through life should be affected by their background or where they came from. How far they go should be based on how hard they work and their talents, and not their background.’
After a few more meetings on Thursday, I was then ready to collect Clifford on we were soon on the train, back home to Yorkshire.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and as always if there are any issues I can assist with please don’t hesitate to contact my office on 0113 345 0380.