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Opinion

Westminster’s justification for denying Wales a St David’s Day bank holiday is inane and insulting

16 Dec 2021 4 minutes Read
St David’s Day Celebration, Cardiff Bay. Senedd Cymru

Gareth Ceidiog Hughes

The UK Government is taking us for a bunch of mugs.

If you want an example of Westminster’s sheer disdain for Wales, and its disregard for its people, you don’t need to look much further than how it has dealt with calls for a St David’s Day bank holiday.

The Scottish and Northern Irish governments have the power to designate national holidays. The Welsh Government does not. It is a matter of basic fairness.

It’s not much to ask, you would think, for the people of Wales to be able to celebrate its patron saint, to be able to celebrate a national holiday like pretty much every other country on the planet.

But since when has Westminster ever dealt with Wales fairly? The establishment has always treated Wales as if it is somehow less worthy, that its people are less deserving of respect than other nations.

From the lack of investment in our railways, to the refusal to extend the furlough scheme in Wales’ hour of need at the height of the pandemic, Wales has always been treated with contempt by the Westminster elite.

A recent example of this came after Gwynedd Council sent a letter to ministers calling for an end to the “embarrassing” anomaly of the Scottish and Northern Irish governments being able to designate their national days while Westminster refuses to devolve the power to so to Cardiff Bay.

The response it got from Paul Scully MP, the UK Government’s Minster for Small Business, was lazy, patronising, inane and insulting.

The reason he gave for denying the request (and it’s embarrassing that we’re in a position where have to ask by the way) was this: “While we appreciate that the people of Wales want to celebrate their patron saint, more people work across the English/Welsh border than across the English/Scottish border.

“This closer degree of integration could cause greater business disruption. If we had separate bank holidays in England and Wales, the impact on both employees and businesses is difficult to predict.”

He argued that the “closer degree of integration could cause greater business disruption”.

Drivel 

This is unadulterated drivel. To be fobbed off with it is just infuriating.

In Germany some public holidays are celebrated in some states and not in others. Some states have their own regional holidays. Every state in Germany celebrates German Unity Day, as you might expect.

But Assumption Day is only celebrated in Bavaria and Saarland. Repentance and Prayer Day is only celebrated in Saxony. The close degree of integration is no barrier to each state having the power to designate their own public holidays.

The state of Bavaria is treated with more respect by the German government than nation of Wales is by Westminster.

But it gets worse.

Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory just off the coast Spain is able to celebrate its own public holidays. This includes Gibraltar National Day.

Around half of the island’s labour force lives in Spain. The public holidays are not deemed disruptive because of this.

Wales is treated with less respect by Westminster than a British Overseas Territory with just over 30,000 inhabitants.

In his nauseating response to Gwynedd Council Scully said the UK Government had “no current plans” to change the “well-established and accepted arrangements” for Bank Holidays in Wales.

Not accepted

Well, the arrangements may well have been in place for a while, but they are certainly not accepted.

The then National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of a St David’s Day Bank Holiday as far back as 2000.

In 2014 it was also reported that Carwyn Jones, Wales’ First Minister at the time had written to the Westminster-appointed Secretary of State for Wales to seek the powers to make Wales’ national day a Bank Holiday.

That perfectly reasonable request was denied.

Therefore, the Westminster intransigence on this matter is not only an insult to the Welsh people. It is spitting in the face of our democracy. It is trampling over our national identity.

We are being denied the basic right to take a day off to celebrate who we are as Welsh people. There is absolutely no reason why Wales should not have its own public holidays.

There are however an increasing number of reasons why Wales should become independent.

Not having to deal with arrant nonsense like this anymore is just one of them.


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Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
6 months ago

Absolutely well said

Andrew
Andrew
6 months ago

An indigenous first nation people , who are not allowed to celebrate the only native born Saint of their island, in a way other nations take for granted.Their annexation subjugation and ethnic cultural and linguistic cleansing over hundreds of years continues to the present day. What country do I refer to?Fingers on buzzers.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

The only remarkable fantasy is the belief that England are benign rulers. Just take a look at the history of the English empire – starting with the conquest of Wales as we are, after all, their first colony – and you will soon find out that this is about as far from the truth as you can possibly get.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Good choice of first name there, mate. Dim by name ……

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
6 months ago

Are these cross-border workers the ones who will be using Wales’ lovely new railway HS2?
Scully? Scummy more like.
And they wonder why we want independence.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Jones

I find there’s a huge flaw in the English Conservative argument to deny only Wales the power to create a Bank Holiday to celebrate St’ David’s Day. They state cross border traffic the stumbling block. But those who travel from Wales to work in England, and visa versa, would not be affected by any Bank Holiday as those Welsh travelling & working in England would not enjoy a day off as their English employers are not bound by Welsh Law, and the same applies to English workers travelling to work in Wales. They would get a paid day off whether… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Y Cymro
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

A question to be asked is this. Why is Welsh Labour continually asking and on numerous occasions and each and every time Whitehall refusing Wales the power to create St’ David’s Day a Bank Holiday even though Scotland & NI were given the power is an affront to Welsh democracy. And although it pains me being a Welsh Nationalist, the Welsh people elected Welsh Labour as Welsh Government and they are our representatives. The Tories kept on about Brexit and how Remainers should respect the winning Leave vote, but they have shown scant regard for Welsh voters and our Welsh… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago

This is in the same category of offensive dismissal as Johnson’s recent description of Wales and Scotland as “subnational” when he refused to release separate national statistics for those two countries.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago

Gareth correctly points out that the then National Assembly voted unanimously in favour St David’s being made a national holiday in Wales – the then labour uk govt ignored this unanimous vote….and uk labour continued to ignore it for 10 years until they lost power at westminster. Afraid it’s not just the uk tories who display utter contempt for welsh nationhood….UK Labour hasnt been much better

Argol Fawr
Argol Fawr
6 months ago

Did you really think those bunch of right wing reprobates calling the shots at Westminster would go any other way?

Mochyn 69
Mochyn 69
6 months ago

Just do it, Senedd Cymru!

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