Report to the People
8th December 2003

The MSPs who Stole Christmas

Right, that’s it.  Get that tinsel down, put those mince pies back in the box and take Bing Crosby off the stereo.  Christmas, as everyone knows by now, has been cancelled.

As the resident expert in any pub, hairdresser’s or bus queue will tell you, the Scottish Parliament has decided, in the interests of political correctness, to make Christmas less, well, Christmassy.  Nativity plays will be replaced with “mid-winter festival pageants.”  Christmas trees will be renamed “the unsound fruits of ecological vandalism.”  And the lyrics of festive favourites such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” are to be changed.  (Although one wonders what to.  “Black Christmas” might also be seen as offensive.  And orange (sectarian), red (anti-communist), pink (homophobic), green (sectarian again) and grey (ageist) all have their own problems.)

This, I am told, is an outrage, a disgrace and an attack on the fundamental principles of our community.

It’s also complete nonsense.

The wild gossip about MSPs “stealing Christmas” which has been doing the rounds over the last few weeks stems from press reports that, for fear of offending non-Christians, we had been banned from using the phrase “Merry Christmas” in our official Christmas cards.

And even that isn’t true.

At no stage has the Scottish Parliament censored the phrase “Merry Christmas.”  The fact is that the Parliament has a choice of official cards which MSPs can send.  One has a scenic view of Edinburgh and bears the inscription “Seasons Greetings” in English and a Gaelic message which translates, I’m told by my good friend and MSP for the Western Isles, Alasdair Morrison, as “Merry Christmas.”  The second card shows the Scottish Parliament logo and wishes the recipient “a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” both in English and Gaelic.

Furthermore, as a member of the Parliament's Corporate Body, which ultimately oversees such grave matters, I know first hand that there was never any discussion of making our Christmas cards more “politically correct.”  Indeed, had there been any such move, I would have objected strongly.

None of this, of course, stopped certain politicians and certain sections of the press making a good story out of it.  But I suppose they need to make a living and, as we’re about to the enter the season of goodwill, I shouldn’t hold it against them.

Nevertheless, I won’t run the risk of offending them by sending them a Christmas card.

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