Next Monday, while the village fair is raging outside, I will be inside working as on any other Monday morning. Will I be disappointed to miss out on a day of Mayday fun? Not a bit of it. There are only so many steam rallies one wants to attend, only so many seaside-bound traffic jams one can bear to join. I would far rather work through every bank holiday and take time off when I feel like it, when the roads aren’t full of bikers and there are fewer people out and about trying to force themselves to have fun.
I don’t think I am entirely alone in this, which is why Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for an extra four bank holidays on St David’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, St George’s Day and St Andrew’s Day is likely to be less of a vote-winner among the workers than he thinks. Corbyn simply doesn’t understand the nature of modern work. The shift towards self-employment and flexible working isn’t so much a case of employers exploiting their workforce – although I accept there are employers who have shifted people onto phony self-employment to cut their costs. There are a great number of us who have chosen flexible careers because we like it that way. We want to be in control of our working hours, to choose when and how much time to take off, to create our own work-life balance. We don’t want to be stuck in the world which Corbyn apparently is, where we all report for duty at the sound of the factory hooter and we all take our time off at the simultaneously, piling into a charabanc for the works outing to Bognor Regis.
Who outside Wales wants to take St David’s Day off, anyway? As for St George’s Day, the Left has spent the past 30 years trying to play down England’s national saint, seeing him as the representation of the English Defence League and so on. Suddenly, Corbyn wants to celebrate the day with a national holiday. It would be a holiday which lay slap bang in the middle of an already crowded bank holiday season, with Easter and May Day on either side. I don’t know about a break from work; we would all start suffering serious bank holiday ennui.
It simply doesn’t occur to Jeremy Corbyn that there is a cost to business of enforced bank holiday breaks. When workplaces have to keep shutting down for odd days off here and there it causes a disruption which does not occur when employees are free to plan their time off when it takes their fancy. Corbyn might as well put in his manifesto that the government buy us all a free beer. It is no more blatant a bribe, but it would be a lot better for the economy and it would suit me better.