Friday, March 4, 2011

The UK expects that every man will do the skive his duty.

From the BBC:
Plans to scrap the May Day bank holiday in favour of either a St George's Day in April or Trafalgar Day in October have been outlined by the government.

Ministers argue the former strategy would start the tourist season earlier, while the latter would elongate it.

The Trades Union Congress rejected a May Day change, saying firms have built schedules around established holidays.
Meanwhile, widely discussed plans to bring UK clocks into line with Europe's were not included in the strategy.
It's not clear whether the St George's Day holiday would apply throughout the United Kingdom; since it would be replacing May 1st which is a day off UK-wide, then I guess the answer is yes.

Leaving patron saints aside for the moment, the more sensible option would be a Trafalgar Day break I think- springtime with both Easter and the later May bank holiday is top-heavy and one extra day at that time isn't going to affect the tourist season one way or the other. October fitting in between the summer and the start of the Christmas slog would fit in nicely.

Celebrating Trafalgar would also fit much more nicely with grassroots Conservative euro-scepticism than the present International Lefty Day...


Wildgoose said...

No, that's not the proposal. The idea is to move the May Day Bank Holiday to October to celebrate "Trafalgar Day".

Scotland has already made St Andrew's Day a Bank Holiday, I believe St Patrick's Day is a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland and the Welsh have announced plans to make St David's Day a Bank Holiday in Wales.

Adding in St George's Day for England just completes the set.

After all, just how much discrimination with England always losing out do you think the English will take?

(For example, free prescriptions in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (from April), but £7.20 each if you're English).

Wildgoose said...

Update: It's now in the news that England's prescriptions are rising to £7.40, but of course free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Aberdonian said...

But is it lefty day since people have been marking the beginning of May since time immemorial - English Maypoles and Gaelic Beltane which carried on throughout Scotland and Ireland for centuries after Gaelic had died out in much of those countries. You get medeival Scottish kings granting the right to hold "Beltane Fairs" as far as the Borders.

Concerning St Andrews Day, nobody except Scottish civil servants get it off anyway. It is more symbolic than a holiday although the Scottish government does set up some events in most towns. I was told in NI that most protestants do not observe St Patricks Day and go to work anyway. Is that true?

michaelhenry said...

Not be long before the brits celebrate kicked out of IRAq day
kicked out of afganistan day
kicked out of Ireland day

I could go on but would run out of days

O'Neill said...

David, re your first comment, I dug this out from the govt's paper on the topic:

"We will consult on whether to move the first bank holiday in May.

Possible alternatives include either a new St George’s Day bank holiday in England (St David’s Day in Wales); or a new ‘UK Day’ or ‘Trafalgar Day’ bank holiday during the October half term instead. This would lengthen the summer tourism season and create new national holidays for our domestic tourism industry to celebrate."

That reads to me that either St George's Day *or* Trafalgar day will replace May 1st. It's still not clear to me where it applies to, but as I said in the post, as May 1st is a UK-wide holiday then presumably the new one will need to be also... but then NI, Wales and Scotland would be celebrating St George's Day? All very confusing.

O'Neill said...


"But is it lefty day since people have been marking the beginning of May since time immemorial -"

That's the (funnily enough) TUC are making for its retention!

I was talking slightly tongue in cheek...;)

"I was told in NI that most protestants do not observe St Patricks Day and go to work anyway. Is that true?"

It's a bank Holiday so (like the 12th of July) almost all official buildings are closed and as with the 12th of July our huge public sector and all its attendant workers take the day off.

With regards private businesses and the self-employed, some do take a day, some don't; but it's no longer (for the most part) dependent on your religion more a question of whether it's economically worthwhile to stay open- pubs tend to for example!

O'Neill said...


The day may come the British Army leave Iraq and Afghanistan but you'll be waiting a very long time for those of us who consider ourselves British to leave our homeland in Northern Ireland.

michaelhenry said...


You know im just on about the brit army

If the economy goes pear-shaped a lot of people might have to leave their homeland- the only problem now is every other persons homeland is as fcuked up.

Hen Ferchetan said...

O'Neill - the quote you have from the gov'ts paper is quite clear:

Possible alternatives include either a new St George’s Day bank holiday in England (St David’s Day in Wales)...

So that would be a bank holiday on St George's Day in England and on St David's Day in Wales or a joint one in October

Wildgoose said...

Yes, that is indeed quite clear - St George's Day would not be a UK-wide holiday as you were suggesting might be the case, but England only.

Personally, I don't see why we can't have both - we have fewer public holidays than they have in Europe for example.

O'Neill said...


When you leave it at just "Brits out" you can surely see we Brits might take it personally;)

Hen and David,

I might be being thick on this one (not completely unimaginable) but May Day is a UK-wide holiday so if it's removed then we're all short of one bank-holiday.

Or does Westminster only have the power of granting bank holidays in England and wales, so Scotland and NI will keep the May 1st?