Tuesday, December 09, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Boris Saves Christmas!

Boris has made yet another stride forward in his quest to drive political correctness from City Hall for good. He has decided that Christmas must remain Christmas and that all mentions of Winter Festivals or the like are to be banished. Today City Hall sent out a press release telling a grateful capital city of its Mayor's Christmas Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral.

Boris says: “It is truly an honour to have the first ever GLA Christmas Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral and I am pleased to be joined by such special guests... I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope this carol service will be a wonderful occasion.”

Well, that's not quite the whole story. Originally the City Hall wallahs (who still think they have Ken as mayor) didn't want to call it a carol service or even mention the dreaded word 'Christmas' for fear of offending minorities. This, despite the fact that all the songs were, er, carols. Boris put his foot down. He struck his pen through the original title of a 'Multi faith Concert' on the basis that no one celebrating Diwali or Jewish festivals would entertain the thought of a 'multi faith concert' so why should Christians at Christmas?

There then came the vexed question of the City Hall Christmas Tree. I have been in receipt of a leaked email (on rice paper, natch) which details the unbelievable mindset still operating among certain officials. The Christmas Tree is provided by the charity CRISIS, whose corporate colour is red. This is important to bear in mind when reading the following email from City Hall officials to CRISIS...

"Please find below our requirements as per previous years. We are looking for a Christmas tree from a sustainable source for the front lobby of City Hall, approx 15ft tall with decorations, bells, bows etc. We would like delivery and set up of the tree on 8th Dec 2008 and removed on 2nd Jan 2009. Usual rules, no Christian symbols, colours or fairies! We cannot have any political colours for the decorations e.g. red, blue, green, yellow, so white and silver is best. Any decorations must be from a recycled, eco friendly source. No star or fairy please."
CRISIS emailed back questioning the fact that "it has to be a Christmas tree with no connection to Christmas and [we] can't use red - even without the limits it puts on Christmas, as red is Crisis' main brand colour we are severely limited!" They go on to describe it all as "a severe case of political correctness gone mad". No kidding.

I think it is safe to say that the Mayor went ballistic when he heard about this and ordered all this PC stuff to be halted forthwith. Unfortunately by the time this had all proceeded the Christmas Tree had already been delivered, replete with silver decorations. But one suspects that things might be a little different next year.

Indeed, when I phone the Mayor's team to ask what form the Christmas Tree will take next year I am assured that next year the Christmas Tree will come with a fairy on the top, angels on the branches and God knows what else.


Bad Bunny said...

Hurrah for Boris! Common sense prevails, for once.

Just out of curiosity, why is a Chrismas fairy considered offensive? Who does it supposedly offend? Excuse me if I'm being dense, but I really don't know.

Jimmy said...

It doesn't offend anybody. Never has. It's just important for the right to invent some paranoid "War on Christmas" in order to use as a wedge issue. They look at the US and believe it is tactics like this which have led to the right's recent spectacular electoral successes there.

Jimmy said...

Name one

John Trenchard said...

for Jimmy, here is one example

Christmas Trees Absent From University of North Carolina Libraries This Year

Christmas trees that have graced the two main libraries at the University of North Carolina won't be displayed this year, after numerous complaints, The Charlotte Observer reported.

The trees have stood in the lobbies of Wilson and Davis libraries at the Chapel Hill campus during December. This year, they are being kept in storage.

Sarah Michalak, the associate provost for university libraries, told the newspaper that she made the decision after several years of complaints from employees and others.

“We strive in our collection to have a wide variety of ideas,” she said. “It doesn't seem right to celebrate one particular set of customs.”

Jimmy said...

North Carolina comes under which council John?

Dick the Prick said...

Jimmy - we've had happy winterval crap knocked over our town under a labour farce.

Hope the Bish is on top form - he's the bishop of Southwark don't you know - it's what he does.

John Trenchard said...

Iain - from reading your post it would appear that CRISIS, the charity, were adhering to GLA guidelines on the christmas tree? Or were these guidelines issued by the charity itself?

In my own local town, i was appalled when i went through the centre of town last weekend - in all the decorations and lights put up by the council there was not a single reference to Christianity. No angels, no nativity scene and certainly no cross.

And if you think i'm some christian crank - i'm not. i'm actually an atheist. It just saddens me seeing Christmas lose its meaning culturally to such an extent that it just turns into a frenzy of consumerism.

I certainly do believe that we need a bit more Christianity in it.

I was however heartened by the sight of the Salvation Army band on Waterloo station concourse last week. That was very nice - and more of it please!

John Trenchard said...

December 09, 2008 7:49 PM

i was merely replying to your asertion that the "war on christmas" is a fantasy, and you made reference to the U.S.

i merely provided a counter point to your argument, with one recent example from the U.S.

Patrick said...

PLease, please, please will PM Cameron learn from this and restore some common sense and common decency to the country as a whole when elected.

John Trenchard said...

December 09, 2008 7:55 PM

since the Winterval fiasco, its gotten more subtle than that.

have a look at your local towns christmas lights. are there any angels? is there a nativity scene? look at it dispassionately and try to find any christian angle in the display. i suspect you wont find any.

PhilC said...

What a manufactured load of tosh - talk about straw men.
Anybody would think another of Boris's advisors had just got into trouble and this dog whistle stuff was aimed at keeping the right wing pack on side.
Tell me you've not you've not fallen for some Tory PR spin, Iain

Raedwald said...

Brilliant! Boris beats the Grinch. And next year for my GLA council tax precept, I'd also like a breathtaking crib / nativity scene and Santa's grotto in City Hall; the magic of Christmas delights children of all faiths, enables us to come together as citizens, reminds us all of our common humanity and reinforces individual personal responsibility - traits anathema to the divisive Trots but values that we urgently need to rediscover.

Jimmy said...

Found this. Boris got there in the nick of time:

" December 6, 2006 ⋅

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has encouraged Londoners to join a week long season of free carol singing which will run each evening from Monday 11 to Saturday 23 December.

The season will help against the backdrop of the traditional Norwegian Christmas tree. The tree is a gift to the people of London from Norway, which has been given by the Norwegian capital Oslo as a token of gratitude for Britain’s support during World War II.

The carol-singing programme, which is backed by the Mayor of London, follows the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Thursday 7 December, which will see the 60th Norwegian Christmas tree lit by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. Also in attendance will be The Mayor of Oslo and HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.

The free event will begin at 5.45pm, with carols sung by the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields and renowned Norwegian boys choir SĂžlvguttene (Boys of Silver).

Speaking yesterday Ken Livingstone said that “for many Londoners the Christmas tree and carol-singing in Trafalgar Square signal the countdown to Christmas. All are welcome to come to the square to enjoy the carol-singing, which also raises money for good causes”

“This is the 60th Christmas tree to be placed in the square as a symbol of the friendship between London and Norway. The lighting ceremony and carol concert are a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit.”

The tree will remain in Trafalgar Square until Saturday 6 January 2007, after which it will be recycled."

Ah winterval, (b.1998 d.1999)

Mike Chubb, the originator of the word, in October 2008 stated:

Quite simply, as Head of events at that time, we needed a vehicle which could cover the marketing of a whole season of events…Diwali (festival of Lights), Christmas lights switch on, BBC Children in Need, Aston Hall by Candlelight, Chinese New year, New Years eve etc. Also a season that included theatre shows and open air ice rink, Frankfurt open air Christmas market and the Christmas seasonal retail offer. Christmas, called Christmas! and its celebration, lay at the heart of Winterval.

Political correctness was never the reasoning behind Winterval, but yes it was intended to be inclusive (which is no bad thing to my mind) and a brand to which other initiatives could be developed as part of The Winterval offer in order to sell the City at a time when all cities are competing against each other for the seasonal trade.

And Oliver, as you point out, the job centre story has nothing to do with the point you were trying to make. This is the sort of bogus controversy that nutjobs in the US on both sides like to get worked up about and presumably which Boris would like to import. He'll find, to his disappointment, that no-one is biting.

Anonymous said...

"15ft tall " FEET !! tut tut.

They're slipping.

John said...

Nice work Boris. Can someone please tell me why someone would be offended by fairies? I understand the bull about christian symbols, but haven't gotten the update on fairies.


Warsteiner said...

Boris is wasted as Mayor of London - get him back in the Commons - I want to hear more of his talk

Lorenzo said...

Mandelson is offended by fairies, he thinks he should be on top.

Bond007 said...

Good old Bozza!

ACB said...

Maybe I have missed something here...but why on earth is a charity donating a Christmas tree to the GLA??

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Have a Blue Christmas!

Jimmy said...

In tomorrow's exclusive, Boris takes a courageous stand in favour of motherhood and apple pie.

DespairingLiberal said...

Oh dear. Spot the managed pre-christmas PR stunt for the Mayor, complete with breathless build-up on Dalevision. This isn't news anywhere but the Standard and the Mail, but bizarrely it actually works amongst the Faithful, as can be seen from the on-queue moron comments here. Or are they part of the fluff?

I've got to hand it to you though Iain, this one is worthy of Max Clifford in full tilt.

DespairingLiberal said...


Boris Johnson declared today that he is against bad people and in favour of good people. He is also a jolly decent chap and likes talking about Romans on the tele.

Iain Dale is happy to headline this important news release for the good of Britain.

Anonymous said...

It is perhaps worth pointing out that a winter solstice festival exists in most cultures and Yuletide was vigorously celebrated in this country before the Christians muscled in. Christianity is itself a form of political correctness - ask any Pagan.

Jimmy said...

I don't think Clifford would wipe his shoes with it. Sounds more like someone got the new Bill O'Reilly book for Christmas. One of the many things to admire about Britain is the fact that crap like this simply will not fly, however much the Daily Hitler tries to push it.

Chris said...

Next year, maybe Boris could insert the sharp end of the tree in one of the trolls who are out in force today. They'd look lovely, I'm sure.

WV: scalmer (now Ken's gone.)

Sue said...

Sanity at last.. Merry Christmas Everyone!

DespairingLiberal said...

In all seriousness, one of the important subtexts of this debate is to what extent politicians should be seen to be supporting any given religion in public. Christianity is now the religion of a distinct minority in Britain. It is heavily outnumbered by non-believers for example. Even within Christianity there are groups who do not go big on Christmas and whole countries within the UK who do not. (Eg, Scotland).

Pandering to the Daily Mail on this doesn't really move us on much in this important issue. It deserves more thought and consideration.

strapworld said...

Why dont the Conservative Party wake and realise what Boris has done is doing and will do is LEADING the debate and taking the fight to the Labour Dominated Local Authorities and this incompetent Government.

Why cannot David Cameron realise that this is the sort of action many copnservatives would like to see him indulge in. WHY, for instance, can he not visit thos parts of this disUnited Kingdom where Christmas is a winter festival and make local speeches against this tyranny. We are a Christian Country that tolerates many peoples and many religions. They have to tolerate US!

It would be a very welcome departure for David Cameron to show he cares for OUR customs and christian festivals.

He has got to learn quickly.

When I learn from ConHome that he has had a 'secret' visit to Brussels the hair on the back of my, almost bald, head stand up!

He does himself absolutely no favours, does he?

But, Well done and hearty congratulations to BORIS!

CityUnslicker said...

despairing liberal.
zip it - you are not liberal at all. You actively want to deny the historic culture of the country to celebrate Christmas; that is not liberal, that is fascist AND mean spirited.

And I jewish before you go on about some religous conspriacy...

Anonymous said...

Judging by jimmy's post at 8 05 it looks like youve a whole labour research dept dedicated to your blog alone Iain.

Martin S said...

Despairing? Very likely.

Liberal? No.

You are the kind of 'liberal' who believe that everyone is fully entitled to their own opinion. Just so long as it is the same as yours.

Some people really can't stand Boris. Why? Well, the rotten thing is doing what he promised he would do before he was elected!

Ooh, ban that type of behaviour! That's not fair! It might raise the expectations of the public with regards to other elected persons. And that would never do.

Old BE said...

"no fairies" is a bit homophobic, isn't it?

Jimmy said...

"Judging by jimmy's post at 8 05 it looks like youve a whole labour research dept dedicated to your blog alone Iain."

More of a hollowed-out volcano really.

John Trenchard said...

"In all seriousness, one of the important subtexts of this debate is to what extent politicians should be seen to be supporting any given religion in public. Christianity is now the religion of a distinct minority in Britain"

so therefore ,the monarchy should be abolished.

if we dont believe in anything, why do we have a monarchy.

no longer anonymous said...

"Christianity is now the religion of a distinct minority in Britain. It is heavily outnumbered by non-believers for example. "

Let's cut to the chase shall we...

1. Christmas is celebrated by most people in this country. Go on, admit it.

2. Do you honestly think that these clowns who are paranoid about offending minorities are reperesentative of majority opinion? I bet they're not even representative of the minorities they claim to be standing up for.

3. Do you actually think that local councils or Boris supporting Christmas is offensive to minorities?

4. Are you just refusing to accept that what Boris did was right because a)it's Boris and b)it might mean that you're on the same side as the Mail?

5.Come on, do tell us whether you think it is acceptable or a good idea not to mention Christmas in these celebrations.

6.If these stories about local councils banning Christmas were true, would you think this a good thing?

Mrs Smallprint said...

Sock it to 'em Boris. My hero......

Mrs S.

Lady Finchley said...

Go Boris, go Boris!

DespairingLiberal said...

No longer, it's tripe to equate public political displays of support for one specific religion with the general acclaim of the population for the public commercial holiday of Christmas.

I'm quite certain that if the holiday were renamed "summerval" and relocated to mid-June for 2 weeks holiday, it would be similarly approved of by the public.

Johnson is just vote-cadging against the usual annual "local authorities want to ban [insert your hysterical xmas ban story here]" whipped up by certain sections of our beloved right-wing red tops.

Next week - Johnson comes out against peodophilia.

City Hall insider said...

This story is absolute b*llocks. I have worked at City Hall for the last 7 years and there has been a Christmas tree in the reception up each of those years. It has had decorations of various colours, and various symbols. I will admit however I can't recall seeing a fairy at the top!

And how come I have attended at least two carol services - I hate the things but have had to attend out of a sense "of duty" - in that time too?

Iain - you have been spun a Christmas fairy tale here methinks

DespairingLiberal said...

City Hall simply confirms what we already suspected - Boris's PRs concoct a story, Iain Dale is part of the planning. The release is timed to attempt to distract attention from the recent stories about Boris's poor judgement in appointing staff, his confusions and inability to do the job. Some of the attack squad here are Tory party or BJ employees in on it.

Pathetic and trust me folks, it will get you nowhere. Boris will be out before too long. He never should have been selected for such a big job in the first place, he is simply not up to it.

Twig said...

It's an angel that sits on top of a christmas tree, not a fairy.

...the angel of the Lord came down and glory shone around...

Well done Boris!

Happy Christmas.

Danivon said...

Bring back Yule!

None of this modern imported Christmas rubbish. It's time we honoured our ancient Anglo-Saxon roots!

mwx2 said...

At last a Politician with common sense. I find PC soo painful. It's just a charter for weak politicians with no spine or true convictions to score easy points with sections of the public.

James Marriott said...

Oh dear Despairing Liberal - your attacks on Boris are SOOO April 2008. Even the leftist of the left are now grudgingly supporting Boris.


Do catch up!


Bias of Priene said...

Apparently Oliver Cromwell preached against such "heathen" practices as carols and decorated trees (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree#Alleged_pagan_roots). The whole Christmas thing is a weird mix anyway, a classic mashup of this, that and the shopping mall. Most of us just get on with it: those in the public sector, of course, get to go on courses and spend their time agonising and second-guessing most of us who, frankly, don't give a damn. And those who do generally want a few familiar elements of their lives retained: Christmas carols, trees and decorations; driving in London without paying or being punished for failing to do so within 24 hours; smoking in pubs ("It was unsatisfying, like smoking a cigarette in the open air" Graham Greene); playing conkers... "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Ben Franklin)

TTGZ said...

This is absurd. I have never seen so many senseless tories chanting, "Rah Rah, Well Done Boris", for doing absolutely nothing - other than, of course, his usual brand of harumphing and snorting and stomping.

City Hall had a Christmas Tree last year, it has a Christmas Tree again this year. But NEXT YEAR, Boris assures us, it will be a non-politically-correct Christmas Tree: it will be a Common-Sense Christmas Tree.

Biggest load of hot air I ever heard.

................................. said...

It's a bit of a bloody cheek making such demands in the first place, when the charity is offering them a free Christmas tree (and a big one with bows and bells at that!).

flick said...

Christmas trees in themelves are resolutely pagan. Christmas is Christian. At some point the Christmas star (Christian star of Bethelem/Jewish star of David) on top of the tree became an angel with a star on her head (though Christian angels are traditionally male, not female),and subsequently, in some low church UK Christian families, the angel morphed into a fairy, with or without the star. As an emblem of multicultural, unspecific, dark-time-of-the-year cheerfulness, you could hardly get better than a Christmas tree. Sorry about that, Boris. Merry Yuletide to all.

Brummie Alice said...

This is deeply fascinating.

PaulD said...

I was at a kids' home in Nepal recently, run entirely by Hindus. They had their Christmas tree all ready - the children exchange presents and sing Christmas songs on the big day.

They don't have a problem with Jesus being born, unlike these nasty little creeps in town halls around our own country. Nor do they go around asserting "my god is better than yours".

Admittedly the Hindus do like a festival. Any excuse for marigolds and tikka (that's the coloured blob on your forehead, not a chicken dish).

DespairingLiberal said...

Cameron Brown, I can't see the specific story you link to (it just gives a general page) but I would suggest not taking the Standard as an objective source on right-wing politicians!

BJ is actually coming under heavy fire even from his own team and a number of them have already left.

PaulD said...

To DespairingLiberal, Transatlantic & co:

If you really do think this is irrelevant / hot air / PR stunt then it shows how hopelessly out of touch you are.

You must know that millions upon millions of people are angry about the way our cherished traditions, not least Christmas with a full quota of carols and cribs, are being junked by the "progressive" left.

The fact is, Boris has hit a hot spot and you don't like it.

Tapestry said...

Christmas is commerce, just as to left wing politicians, politics is a business. That's all Ken and his cronies care about - money in their pockets. All the PC crap is merely a cover story to fool the naive into thinking they care about something (or anything) else.

Ken likes money. That's about all we need to know about his left wing principles and his desire to drive Christianity from the lives of Londoners.

Boris should be sanctified for bringing heathenomics to an end.

Martin said...

So how will they get Peter Mandelson on the top of a tree next year?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"So how will they get Peter Mandelson on the top of a tree next year?"

I don't know but I bet he's exercising his sphincter on the off-chance.

DespairingLiberal said...

PaulD - "Boris" has not "hit" anything - his PRs dreamed up some tabloid fodder is all.

Incidentally, "winterval to replace Christmas" is a long-running urban myth - check it out on Wikipedia.

We have so many myths in this country. But the one that Labour or someone leftish is planning to abolish Christmas is more reminiscent of the anti-Jewish campaigns of the 1920s than anything else.

But even if it was true - which it isn't - have any of you Daily Mail pinheads on here given some time to consider if maybe this country isn't quite the Holy Anglican Communion any more that you think it ought to be? Even though none of you presumably actually attend a church, you like to know it's still there?

John Trenchard said...

Santa doesnt exist - says a primary school teacher to a class of 7 year olds.

John Trenchard said...

from Oxford:
Oxford council set to axe Christmas

A plan to axe the word Christmas from this year’s city centre festive celebrations has been criticised by religious leaders.

Council chiefs have confirmed there will be no traditional Christ-mas light switch-on in Oxford this year, but
instead revellers will be greeted with a 25-metre high mobile of lanterns in the shape of the solar system.

A city council spokesman confirmed this year’s event would be called the “Winter Light Festival” to include all religious denominations.

John Trenchard said...

DP -> how is it a "myth" , when the very wiki article you link to says:
Birmingham City Council in the United Kingdom used the term Winterval in 2 years – 1997/8 (20 November - 31 December [2]) and 1998/9 (mid-October - mid-January) – with the intention of driving business into Birmingham's newly rejuvenated town centre, as well as a way to be "inclusive"

the only way that is a myth is in your own woolly head socialist head. keep sticking those fingers in your ears, and keep up to "la la la , i cant hear you"...

Philipa said...

There's only one Boris Johnson!

Boris for PM :-)

John Trenchard said...

December 09, 2008 10:27 PM

damn good point on Boris LEADING and taking the fight to the P.C. brigade...

yes, its only a christmas tree. but by god is it a lodestone around which all freedom loving Britons can rally around.

we've had enough. and Boris has touched a nerve.

DespairingLiberal said...

Trenchard - perhaps you are aware that there are some other major religious groups in Birmingham? Who also celebrate their festivals in mid-winter?

The myth (as I suspect you well know) is that the tabloids said Birmingham were abolishing Christmas and calling it Winterval. This is not true. They called the whole sequence of festivals "winterval with Christmas in the heart of it".

DespairingLiberal said...

Oh gosh. Crumbs. Er. My fans are out in force tonight. The floppy haired one is proud of you all!

But if any of you are at all even slightly interested in facts, what do we have here?

Er. Iain alleges he has an email which says something about not having carols next year from an unnamed official.

Er. Boris is then allegedly in a fine old lather about it.

Er. That's it.

Is there anything concrete to support this "story" at all?

Is it even reported anywhere else??

You guys should get out more.

Jimmy said...


You're wasting your time. Just as the child believing in s
Santa they want to believe this is true, therefore it is. So don't spoil it for them, just let them grow up and work it out in their own time.

Unknown said...

I am happy to confirm that as of this morning Boris's Christmas tree was adorned with several silver stars

DespairingLiberal said...

What was annoying about this "story" (ha ha) was not the obvious London Evening Hitler-feed, or the braying of the over-60s non-church attending auto-reaction heads praising the Spectator's expense account blondie here, but the trails Iain gave it in his twitters - "big story on Boris breaking soon" etc, etc.

Iain, if you're going to use Twitter to build up anticipation, at least give us something real at the end of it.

Chris Paul said...

Isn't the Boris story this week that he's lost his 5th or 6th henchman since June? One a month or thereabouts?

Boris is another DO NOTHING conservative, like Cameron. DO NOTHING except make unsustainable appointments.

chorale said...

from Bad Bunny -"Hurrah for Boris! Common sense prevails, for once.

Just out of curiosity, why is a Chrismas fairy considered offensive? Who does it supposedly offend? Excuse me if I'm being dense, but I really don't know."

Actually, it's the fairy who is offended. How would you feel having a fifteen foot fir tree shoved up your jacksie?