To mark something specifically British, and thereby to provide the opportunity throughout the length and breadth of our Islands, for those who wish, to celebrate the United Kingdom, to reflect on the value of the UK, and on our history and accomplishments, and on the importance of our British identity; and to have a day off work.
THE BEST DATE?
Which date is appropriate?
It has to be a date which is specifically British, in that it has to be relevant to all parts of the United Kingdom, not just predominantly one area.
It must be a date which is able to unite the most people behind it. Therefore, it must avoid political controversy as much as possible.
In the past we've seen people suggesting dates which fall into the following categories. Within these categories, these are the main dates which have been suggested.
Constitution: 1 May: This is "Union Day", and by that we mean the day in 1707 when the British Union between Scotland and England came into effect. That's a day worth remembering from our perspective! Indeed, lately, some unionists in Scotland have taken to remembering it on social media, and celebrating it with friends.
Of course, there is already a 1st May Day Bank Holiday – which relates to Trades Unions. That's a ready-made Bank Holiday which is also an opportunity to choose to remember British Union Day, as an additional thing to celebrate on this day, or instead of, depending upon preference. At the very least, unionist councils should fly the Union Jack on 1st May.
A Force For Good held a "1st May Great British Union Day" celebration in 2021.
Since it is already a Bank Holiday – and since, politically, it is likely to be controversial – we're not including that as an option for the new Bank Holiday.
Democracy: 15 June 1215: Magna Carta Day. That's an important day in the history of British democracy. It could be considered largely an English event, although as we've pointed out on our Legacy Site, it was a wider-British event attended by representatives from Scotland, Ireland, Wales (and even France). However, it is somewhat obscure and unlikely to set the heather on fire.
23 June 2016: The day Britain voted to leave the European Union. This is obviously far too politically controversial and divisive to be seriously considered as a public event! However, there is nothing to stop people celebrating this privately if they want.
Military Victories: There are several dates in British History which should be remembered anyway – even if not formally – since they were turning points in our fortunes in the world; whether defending our Islands, suffering catastrophic loss of British life, or defeating our foes. For example, the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (8 August 1588, New Style), Trafalgar (21 October 1805). Waterloo (18 June 1815), the First Day of the Somme (1 July 1916), Battle of Britain Day (15 September 1940). Victory in Europe Day (8 May 1945). Valuable as it is to remember these military conflicts, it is not really the tone which we'd prefer to set for a relaxing Bank Holiday.
Rather, we want something which is contemporary, relevant to all parts of the UK and not just specific to one part, as non-controversial as possible, upbeat and happy, and ideally in summertime so we can enjoy the weekend.
Thankfully, there is the perfect opportunity which fits all these requirements!
THE OFFICIAL BIRTHDAY of the HEAD OF STATE
Our favourite date for a new "British Day Bank Holiday" is simply the Monday of the Queen's Official Birthday Weekend.
The Official Birthday falls on the second Saturday in June, and even though the Head of State's birthday will fall at a different time in the year, the "official" birthday has been celebrated in June since 1908 when Edward VII (whose birthday was on 9 November), moved the ceremony to the summer in the hope of good weather.
The official Birthday is celebrated with Trooping the Colour in London. That is a very British event which gets televised live throughout the UK.
It seems to us that there would be no better day for a new British Day Bank Holiday than the Monday immediately following the Official Birthday Weekend of the Head of State of the United Kingdom.
It would also be another way to spread out the sense of Britishness. That is, spread it out from the official Trooping the Colour event in London, to the whole country. It would enable everyone to share in the event, even if it is only with a day off work.
There is also a pleasing poetry in the sense that the Monarch gets another Birthday and the people get another Holiday. Indeed, to be frank, it makes us wonder why this hasn't been the case since the official Birthday began as a concept!
WE HAVE PRECEDENT
According to Wikipedia, regarding the Queen's official Birthday: "In British diplomatic missions, the day is treated as the National Day of the United Kingdom. Although it is not celebrated as a specific public holiday in the UK, some civil servants are given a 'privilege day' at this time of year, which is often merged with the Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May)".
So, that's clear precedent!
We also have precedent with (Tuesday) 5 June 2012, the British-wide Bank Holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
"That's not the British way. Being 'British' is about being restrained on these matters"
The people who say that are confusing Britishness with a specific kind of 'Englishness'. That is, they are confusing it with a sort of Englishness which has always been very confident in its sense of national identity because it has never felt under threat.
That sense is different among those of us who are aware that our identity is under direct threat, and sometimes even direct physical assault – such as unionists in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We know that if our Britishness is to survive, it must be openly and clearly upheld. We know we have to be louder about it!
"That's too nationalistic!"
The SNP ram their version of exclusive "Scottishness" down our throats every single day, and in every way, in order to promote their political point of view. They are highly nationalistic in the sense of promoting "Scottish" this and "Scottish" that, every waking moment, in word and deed. Having one day a year specifically dedicated to helping to promote Britishness is not the same!
"That's not going to save the Union"
No one policy, or event, is going to solve the problems of separatism. However, over time, things can be nudged in the right direction by policies, and events. Things like this may be a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but it is all the little things that the British Government is not doing, or not encouraging, which creates the big problem of separatism and which allows it to dominate.
"But we've already got National Days for each part of the UK"
Celebrating St George's Day, St Andrew's Day, St David's Day and St Patrick's Day is all well and good but that is celebrating the separate parts, and if that is all we did then in the worse case it might even encourage separatism. So let's have a day which helps bring all parts of the UK together. Indeed, the history of the British Monarchy does exactly that, descending as it does from all parts of the British Isles.
"But Bank Holidays are devolved"
As part of the intrinsic lack-of-thought (which appears to have been mandatory) surrounding devolution, the British government gave power over these holidays to the devolved assemblies.
However, that is not an insurmountable problem. Westminster can still make the law for all parts of the UK. Furthermore, is Holyrood really going to turn round and argue against a day off work for everyone? Well, the SNP and Greens will almost certainly do so, on republican grounds, but all that is a given anyway.
With the objections out the way, it's time for the "Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport" to take this forward!
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