From the TUC

Tell DCMS: “Don’t mess with May Day”

12 May 2011, by in Working Life

Give us your ideas for a new Bank Holiday” runs the heading on DCMS’ latest press release. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, as the TUC have been suggesting for quite some time that adding a new bank holiday to the UK’s calendar could help end our embarrassing honour of having the fewest public holidays in Europe.

However, on closer inspection, Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose’s latest wheeze is not actually a “new bank holiday” but rather a recycled old one – the tease! He’s running a “pre-consultation” on whether we should move the May Day bank holiday, and if so, where we should stick it.

I’m not entirely sure why we need a pre-consultation here. There’s a perfectly serviceable full-fat consultation on these issues coming up later this year – one that would be run by proper Cabinet Office guidelines on consultations.

It couldn’t possibly be that amidst some grim economic figures, John Penrose is desperate to be seen to be doing something – anything – for his sector of British industry (so long as it doesn’t actually cost any real cash of course) – could it? Plus as a bonus, getting in a quick dog-whistle toot to keep restless Tory backbenchers distracted?

Penrose’ stated rationale is that Britons would spend a lot more if we could extend the tourist season out to October. Not a bad idea that, but doing away with May Day bank holiday would likely lose us more economic activity than the October day gains. The Horticultural Trades Association got their shot in earlier this week to protect garden centres’ best trading days, with a Populus poll finding 78% of people wanted to keep May Day holiday.

I like May Day. As a good lefty, I’ve a dog-whistle of my own around the nearby International Workers’ Day, but it’s also a day that’s been celebrated for centuries, from Olde English Roodmas and Celtic Beltane, albeit with a short puritan break thanks to Cromwell. 1st May is even the date of the Act of Union – surely the kind of tradition that would appeal to a “Conservative and Unionist Party”?

So by way of pre-suggestion to the DCMS’ pre-consultation – How about a compromise? Don’t just shuffle the bank holiday deck chairs. Let’s keep May Day AND have an all-new October holiday.

If you’d like to see a new bank holiday give the country a boost, and break the four month slog between August and Christmas, go pre-tell John Penrose’s pre-consultation. And as he asks, send him a tweet (140 chars is always the most reliable to get views on your new legislation if you don’t really want to hear them I find…), using the hashtag #bankhol.

Though may I also humbly offer a second hashtag suggestion of #keepmayday?

57 Responses to Tell DCMS: “Don’t mess with May Day”

  1. David Barker
    May 18th 2011, 7:46 pm

    Why change this day off for the working people of this country. They are the people that pay the way for this country to afford the life we live. We have holidays for religions that give nothing in return. One day to return something for the people that pay for our life and freedoms is a small price for the nation to give them something back.

  2. Elaine Romney
    May 19th 2011, 12:06 pm

    Agreed but preferably on a Friday as I don’t work Mondays & therefore don’t benefit from them

  3. Susan Kavanagh
    May 20th 2011, 3:37 pm

    I’d be very happy to see a day off for Trafalgar Day IF we keep May Day as well!

  4. rob rooney
    May 23rd 2011, 7:39 pm

    My wife, daughter (aged 24) son (aged 16) and myself all wish to register our outrage and outright opposition to the proposal to abolish the May Day bank holiday. We know the Tories are on a mission to extinguish the fire that sustains the labour movement and that abolishing May Day is part of this ideological offensive.
    If the Tories want to institute another bank holiday IN ADDITION to May Day that’s fine with us. They won’t do that because we all know that would hurt their precious profits.
    Tory scum, here we come.

  5. Jo Hall
    May 31st 2011, 10:24 am

    I am all in favour of an extra day in October; it is far too long from Aug to Christmas without any break. If they DARE to get rid of our workers’ day in May, we should take to the streets & reclaim it!! How about we all take annual leave on May Day & organise fetes, etc? Or be ‘sick’ for the first time in our lives?? xxx

    What happens to these comments? Are you passing them on or do we have to do it directly as well?

  6. St George Unofficial Bank Holiday
    Jun 14th 2011, 8:20 pm

    We campaign for a bank holiday on St George’s Day, but we want it as an extra day – not a replacement for May Day. May Day has connections with English Spring festivals, Morris Dancing, Crowning the May Queen and Maypole Dancing.

    We believe that most people would prefer a bank holiday on St Georges Day, rather than the governments preferred option of Trafalgar Day or UK/Britain Day.

    Trafalgar Day is daft (Lord Nelson opposed the abolition of slavery) and so is UK/Britain Day (can’t imagine many Catholics in N.Ireland waving Union flags).

    It’s interesting that business owners and Directors seem to agree with us, we interviewed several and here are their comments

  7. Jo Hall
    Jun 16th 2011, 10:50 am

    St George’s Day won’t go down well with ANYONE in Wales, Scotland or N Ireland, so don’t YOU be daft!! We need an extra one between Aug & Dec; we have nearly all of them in the first half of the year & it’s such a drag from Aug BH till Xmas. How about UN Day Oct 24? Surely no-one can argue with that???