Devolution has been a thing in the UK since the 1990s. The Scottish and Welsh parliaments were launched in 1999 and the Northern Ireland Assembly the year before. These legislative bodies have control over a substantial number of subjects, meaning they can implement different policies to England or even each other.
One example of this is prescription charges. England continues to charge for medical prescriptions, whereas the other three UK nations scrapped them between 2007 and 2011. And there are numerous other areas where the rules vary across the UK’s internal borders – Covid regulations, for example. This isn’t difficult to grasp, yet many in the media frequently do.
The same bug appears to have affected the Night Time Industries Association. Yesterday, they sent out an email at 8am with news, embargoed until 10am, of a campaign to encourage people to lobby members of the Welsh Parliament to change the current Covid regulations in place – such as social distancing, table service and nightclubs closing.
Obviously, no one is saying the Night Time Industries Association cannot lobby on these matters. Their Welsh members would undoubtedly have a right to be annoyed if they didn’t. Yet the standard email provided to send to your area’s local representative is, to use that modern terminology, somewhat problematic.
For example, their identikit email says “The financial support provided to Welsh nightlife venues has hardly scratched the surface of what is needed to sustain businesses, not least without a furlough scheme in place. That the First Minister can resort to such severe measures, out of sync with England and without the needs of industry in mind, is deeply worrying for our sector”.
Hang on a minute. England have resorted – mostly thanks to Boris Johnson’s credibility being shredded with lockdown breaking party revelations over the past few weeks – to doing almost nothing in response to the contagious Omicron wave. Nightclubs are open with vaccine passports in place, and they only got through thanks to Johnson relying on opposition MPs.
Whilst asking questions about the Welsh approach is fair – and this blog has certainly done so – who on earth is the Night Time Industries Association to say England has got it right? Frankly, this kind of attitude borders dangerously close to colonialism – and the NTIA hurts its own cause with such thinking.
Besides, try using the line “we should do what the English are doing” in Scotland and see how far you’ll get…