Come what may on September 18th, when Scotland votes in their referendum, there is something that can and should be done. A new public holiday is needed, to celebrate the United Kingdom in all it’s glory, and hopefully to celebrate a full United Kingdom with all four nations at its heart. Over the last few years there have been various lukewarm attempts to introduce a new bank holiday, St George’s Day, Trafalgar Day and others. But this public holiday will be a special day – not like the old Empire/Commonwealth Day, but a day when we can reflect on who we are and marvel at the diversity of our combined nation. And hopefully, it will not also be a day of mourning, when we reflect on the leaving of one nation from our fold.
Many countries celebrate the founding of their nation. We do not. If there is something that the Scottish Referendum gives us, it is an opportunity to start again and to celebrate who we are, a United Kingdom with many different peoples and identities. A national day strengthens the nation and fosters a sense of identity. If the Americans, the French, the Norwegians, the Italians and so many others celebrate with pride their national days, ought we, as the United Kingdom, do the same?
And the date of this new public holiday? What about the Monday nearest September 18th?