Ed Balls on St George's Day
Recently I suggested that you should all write to the Labour leadership candidates to ask for their position on St George's Day. Naturally I don't ask people to do anything that I don't do myself; so here's the first reply I received back:
Thank you for your recent email asking for my views on St. Georges Day, and for your kind words of support. I apologise for the short delay in responding. You ask if I am in favour of state funding for an official St. Georges Day celebration and making St. Georges Day a public holiday in England.
I think it is right to recognise the importance of St. Georges Day, what it means to the history of England, and for the values that England represents. I think it’s also the case that we've been very reluctant to talk about England or ‘Englishness’ and to recognise the real and growing interest in English identity. In my view, the expression of national identity is something that can unite us rather than divide us. As we see today, the flag of St George is a unifying symbol for England in its bid to win the World Cup in South Africa.
Whilst I agree in principle with the free expression of an English identity, I have practical concerns about the economic cost of formalising this as a public holiday. It’s not a bad idea but there are economic implications that have to be taken into account such as the costs to thousands of businesses and the public sector in time off or extra pay for working on a holiday.
Ultimately I believe there should be wider public debate on this issue. From my perspective, I would have to be convinced that the cost would be acceptable in relation to the benefits.
I hope this answers your questions. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
I emailed each of the candidates with the following.
Today's Guardian carries the extraordinary claim from John Denham that Gordon Brown vetoed plans for a state-funded celebration of St George's Day because he feared a 'counter-reaction' from Scotland.
I am writing to each of the Labour Party leadership candidates to ask for their views on St George's Day. Please can you tell me whether you are in favour of:
a) State funding of official St George's Day celebrations, and;
b) A national holiday in England* on St George's Day?
*The Labour Party in Scotland supported a national holiday in Scotland for St Andrew's Day.
Good luck on your leadership campaign.
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I have a reply from Dianne Abbott.
I have read your e-mail and I appreciate your interest in my views.
With St George being the patron saint of England it seems reasonable to celebrate this as other Brish isles do as well as other nations. There are num
Since I was asking the Labour Leadership contenders, I thought I'd better enquire as to the Government's policy on St George's Day. He didn't answer but I received this from the Cohesion and Faiths Division of Communities and Local Government: