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23 December 2016

The MPs who dare to speak about Christmas

The Staggers wishes everyone a happy festival-that-must-not-be-named. 

By Julia Rampen

Something’s looming. What it is, we dare not say, but it involves presents, cake, old movies, and singing. Perhaps even a – whisper it – church. 

And before you bellow: “DO YOU MEAN IT’S CHRISTMAS?” remember these Tory MPs. For months they have been warning of the consequences of daring to hang baubles on a pine tree you have erected in your living room. 

First there was Shailesh Vara, the Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire. His constituency must be something of a totalitarian atheist state, because it is with some passion that he decried how “British laws, cultures, values and traditions, such as Christmas, being threatened by political correctness from council officials”.

He asked the Prime Minister “to send a loud and clear message” to such council officials that “Christmas is not ‘Winterval’ and that Christmas trees are not ‘festive’ trees”. 

Perhaps Vara was concerned by how few of his colleagues dared to mention Christmas – but then it was September. 

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Luckily, a few weeks later, Fiona Bruce, the Tory MP for Congleton, took up the cause.  “Comments this week by the equalities commissioner about not being worried about talking about Christmas at work were important,” she declared, because many Christians are “worried, even fearful” about doing so. 

While clearly Christmas is still a dangerous subject, the Tories have in their leader a truly courageous woman.

In September, the Prime Minister announced she would “stand up” for Christmas, and as the controversial date approached, she declared: “We are now in the season of Advent.” She even wished everyone in the House of Commons “a happy Christmas”. 

But we must not forget, of course, the earlier champions of Christmas, such as Andrew Turner, Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, who warned in March 2003 that “Winterval is introduced in Birmingham”. Or Reverend Martin Smyth of Belfast South, who prophetically noted in 1998 that the same city wanted to “camouflage Christmas”, while in Northern Ireland Christmas cards with scriptural messages needed to be hidden.

Without these Christmas crusaders, The Staggers would probably never have realised such an event could be looming, and it might be OK to slip away in late December, and devote its working hours to demolishing mince pies without anyone noticing.

Merry Christmas and a wonderful Winterval to all.