Cristina Odone unmasks the hot cross bun plotters

To counter the stories about hot cross buns, we need more brutes like Alastair Campbell

The latest victims of the war on terrorism: hot cross buns, Shrove Tuesday pancakes and the Three Little Pigs. They may look innocuous to the untrained eye but beware - the sweet dough and Disney-style, porcine caricatures could prove as dangerous as a Kalashnikov or a dose of Ricin. For those sugary concoctions and pink little animals could foment resentment among the Muslim, Jewish and Hindu communities: they are all uber-Christian symbols, aren't they? Quick, they must be banned from our schools.

Outraged at this political correctness run amok? Well, your outrage is being milked by the right-wing press, where reports of ridiculous bans by local authorities terrified of offending their paranoid minorities - as in Tower Hamlets, Liverpool and York - keep surfacing.

But a few phone calls to the councils in question reveal that the "news stories" are bogus. Tower Hamlets, where more than a third of the inhabitants are Bangladeshi, denied receiving complaints about Shrove Tuesday pancakes; Liverpool City Council (there are 5,945 Muslims out of 439,473 inhabitants) denied suspending hot cross buns from schools. Yes, a headmistress of a primary school in West Yorkshire (home to 148,681 Muslims) did write a letter saying that "Three Little Pigs" might offend Muslims - but she never banned the story from her classrooms.

Whose cause was served by these fantasies of rabid political correctness choking our councils? The same groups that for 18 years managed to paint the left as a loony sect led by people who believed the rights of any minority (Muslims, blacks, gays, you name it) ranked higher than yours, and should be protected - even if at your expense.

It was a right-wing plot and it worked: for years the left was tarred with the brush of mad political correctness. It wasn't until the advent of the spin-meisters that Labour could quash that image. After years of reading articles such as "The ban on hot cross buns" or "Nan bread replaces pancakes for Shrove Tuesday", is it any wonder that Alastair Campbell gnashed his teeth and grunted: "Let me have a go at them"? He was brutal and fierce and a bully; but heck, look at the disinformation that even a headmistress's letter generates, and you can see why he had no choice. Indeed, we need many more Alis - to help out in Tower Hamlets, Liverpool and York, for a start.

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