You always get it at this time of year.
“Christmas is banned, you know. They call it Winterval now. Political correctness gone mad! Well, I will wish you a merry Christmas, and I don’t care who doesn’t like it. Take THAT, society! “
The story goes that a council was so scared of offending any group that they decided not to celebrate Christmas any more. They would instead celebrate a made up festival called “Winterval” and ban all mention of any kind of connection to Christianity or British traditions.
The predictable quarters, led of course by The Daily Mail, were outraged. They were so outraged that they were still quoting this as fact as recently as September of this year in the Mail, and government minister Eric Pickles attempted to stir things up last year.
It is, and always has been, an urban myth.
Birmingham council did have a promotional concept that they called “Winterval” in 1997 and 1998. This was simply a catch all term to cover the various events over the winter period – the switching on of the lights, new years eve, Diwali, Halloween and so on. Winterval did not replace Christmas in any way – it was just a marketing concept to make promotion of all these separate events easier. Christmas was still called Christmas, there were still Christmas trees, carol services and Christmas cards. Nobody was banning anything.
In fact, Winterval was printed in much smaller type on the promotional literature than the word “Christmas”, and the entire focus of the marketing was on Christmas, its symbols and events.
And, you know what, including other events, even being more inclusive in general – is that a bad thing? I would have thought it was good actually. Really good. I’m all for recognising people of other faiths and none – it makes life more interesting, and there are more parties to go to.
But pretending that Christmas is somehow under threat lets people of a…less tolerant persuasion (OK, closet racists) claim that “we” (as in, white British born people) need to somehow defend “our” traditions against this apparently huge influx of political correctness and inclusion.
So the more we point out that the whole Winterval thing is a myth, the more they splutter and point at shops daring to sell Eid cards, or bans on outright discrimination in employment, as evidence that we are living in a police state where we are somehow not allowed to say anything in case we offend any minority group.
OK, so… racist twats are a minority group, thankfully. I can offend them – watch.
FUCK OFF RACIST TWATS.
There. Happy now?
Living in France I know all about strikes. We get them regularly. Now I work in Luxembourg the only effect of strikes I notice is when the cross border commuters can’t get the train so they make the traffic jams even worse.
During my many years in Paris and its surrounding area my life was very regularly disrupted by strikes. Paris isn’t Paris without some protest going on somewhere. Strikes are a nuisance and yes, they are expensive to the local economy.
But we are very lucky to be in a position to complain about strikes. We are very lucky that trade unions are there to protect workers. Can you imagine if there was no way of workers getting their voice heard? If they had no representatives? You don’t have to dig very far back into British history to see what life was like before workers had reps and rights.
Reading the Daily Mail and listening to people rant on the radio you would think that most Brits believe that workers shouldn’t have the right to strike. Which is a very frightening mindset, and if the Tories get wind of that mindset you can expect more attacks on workers’ rights. Remember how Thatcher is best remembered for, other than being a milk snatcher, breaking the unions? Was that a good thing? Read articles like this one by Simon Heffer, and note how in point five he wants to do is abolish the minimum wage for young people. Look at point eight.
Now we are lucky enough that Simon Heffer is not a policy maker in the UK, but there are people in government who think like him. They think that those of us who do the underling work are worthless, and shouldn’t have rights. We have got above our station. Especially those who, God forbid, educate our children and care for our sick..
I am not sure if I agree with the civil service striking over pensions yesterday. I haven’t read enough about it. But before you complain about how your life is being affected by those strikes, please stop and think about what life would be like if we didn’t have the right to strike, and if we didn’t have trade unions. Working hours, maternity leave, the right to paid leave, various equality laws…
Yes strikes are a nuisance. But life without them would be unthinkable.
I have always refrained from writing about Richard Littlejohn basically because I don’t know where to start. I tend to try and avoid his awful column because for one thing, I like to look after my blood pressure, and for another thing I am never quite sure if he is real. I mean, is he not some sick parody the Daily Mail have concocted for us to make us froth at the mouth?
But there comes a point when even sticking both fingers in my ears and shouting “la la la” isn’t enough to help me switch off from something he has written.
Will just go back a step.
-pretty much anything that a woman does;
-socialists and communists and anything else that can be construed as being slightly left wing;
-people who make use of the welfare state and claim benefits of almost any kind;
…should I go on?
The Express is similar – I smiled to see that they believe themselves to be leading a “crusade” against the EU. I wonder if they would be so willing to use this word so lightly if they revised their history.
The Daily Mail hates France, unless they are talking about the parts the middle class expats enjoy. Its columnists like to refer to Sarkozy as a dwarf like Napoleon and they like to go on, and on, about how the French surrendered during the war. No, not the recent wars. We’re talking about the one which finished well over 60 years ago. They have recently taken up German bashing too.
But on the 18th November Richard Littlejohn surpassed himself, writing a very bad rhyme about both the French and Germans, but mainly the Germans. Here it is if you can stomach it. It is accompanied by a shocking cartoon, depicting Merkel among others goose-stepping. Basically inferring, under a veil of humour, that the Germans and EU are akin to the Nazis.
I have had to re-read it several times, which has been so painful on very many levels. I don’t understand how people can agree with him, and I don’t understand how he got paid to write such inflammatory crap. Although it’s supposed to be humour there is a very nasty undertone. Glee at economic worries? Veiled references to the war? Incitement of hatred, and fear of our neighbours? Tick tick tick.
I am actually full of admiration for Germany. Not at all for what happened during the war, of course, but how they have rebuilt themselves since. I was in Frankfurt recently – stayed overnight, had dinner at a restaurant and used the airport. I was so impressed, once again, with the people and the efficiency. They are so welcoming, so kind. One bloke on the bus appointed himself our tourist guide, although he didn’t speak brilliant English – he just wanted to point out the things he was proud of. Isn’t that great?
Another guy struck up conversation in the restaurant – he was stuck overnight with his tour group as his flight was cancelled. Did he complain? No, he just took it in his stride. No-one else in the group was heard to complain either. They just raised their eyebrows and laughed it off. It was refreshing. Can you imagine the grumps in a British airport hotel if a large group of people were stuck there when they wanted to be in Cuba?
So why is the press so anxious to stir up not so recent history and encourage its readers to hate, or be fearful, of our nearest neighbours? What is the point? Who does it help? And why oh why are they allowed to print such inflammatory stuff? Free press yes. Racist press, no thanks. The same article adapted to be about a minority group would be quite rightly slammed across the board.
So why is it still acceptable to be racist against the Germans and French? Covering up racism with a light sheen of humour (though if anyone really finds it funny then I will despair of my mother country) is wrong.
Living in France as I do, it is when articles like this come out that I am ashamed to be British, because thanks to the world wide web these types of articles are picked up on and translated, and even in France when journalists mention the Daily Mail they do so with a sneer. The fact that it is such a popular website does nothing for our already pretty tarnished reputation abroad – they are starting to believe that we are all like that, but last time I looked Britain and its people are tolerant and welcoming.
The Daily Mail likes to huff and puff about ‘political correctness gone mad’. Their recent articles on Europe show that they believe that vile rants about our allies are acceptable and to be encouraged. I hope the rest of the country isn’t listening to them, because articles such as this one by Richard Littlejohn aren’t politically incorrect (said with a smile and a wink). They are inflammatory, racist and bigoted.
We have a lot to learn from our European neighbours. It appears that tolerance is one thing. And, if this is considered humour, I would say that Richard Littlejohn could learn something about sense of humour from the Germans.