Westminster’s justification for denying Wales a St David’s Day bank holiday is inane and insulting
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”.
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.
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.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.