Sam Leith

The forever ‘war on Christmas’

And the paranoid style in British politics

The forever ‘war on Christmas’
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It seems to get earlier each year, doesn’t it? It's not yet even December, and the Mail on Sunday has splashed on 'NOW THE WOKE ‘BLOB’ TRIES TO BAN CHRISTMAS'. Lordy be. I say this every year and every year my woke comrades fail to learn. We have a leak, a chatty flake, I say. Someone’s feeding our plans to the Mail on Sunday, I say. We need a major overhaul of woke blob op-sec if we’re ever going to get this whole Christmas-banning thing done, I say. And do they listen?

To be honest, I thought we were onto a good one this time. It was subtle. As the paper reports, our attempt to ban Christmas came in an innocuous guise. Comrades in the Cabinet Office vetoed a proposed public safety slogan – 'Don’t take Covid home for Christmas' – on the grounds that the campaign 'needs to be inclusive and some religions don't celebrate Christmas'. They suggested 'holidays' or 'festive season' instead.   

I guess the MoS has a few wise heads who understand how totalitarianism takes hold. They weren’t fooled. You start with something that looks like a milquetoast attempt to show good manners and consideration to others – wearing facemasks, using inclusive language, that sort of thing. You start with that – the sort of thing it’s hard to object to – so anyone who opposes you is made to look either stupid or insane. Then, bam, it’s re-education camps, expropriation, killing dissidents, the whole nine yards. Lessons from history, baby.

Since the secret’s out, though, real talk: the word 'now' was doing a lot of work in that headline. I mean: 'now'? 'Now'? I’m hurt. We at woke blob central were trying to ban Christmas decades ago. We were trying to ban it before this generation of our enemies even thought of using words like 'woke' or 'blob', way back when cis-men were cis-men and woke blobsters were 'loony lefties' and 'political correctness gone mad'.

Remember our colleagues in the Woke Blob International, for instance, with their early 90s 'War on Christmas'? Remember when Birmingham City Council used the word 'Winterval' in some sort of press release and the tabloid media completely lost their shizzle? That’s to say nothing of our woke ancestors in early modern England. They really did ban Christmas. And revolutionary France! Not content with murdering tens of thousands of their countrymen, they made everyone eat 'Equality Cake' over the holidays. Way to go.

The thing about our modern-day attempts to ban Christmas, it grieves me to say, is not that they keep being exposed in the popular papers. It’s that they’re so bloody unsuccessful. You should see the veins standing out on my neck, and the awful grinding of my teeth, as I make my way down East Finchley high street in my facemask, vaccination certificate pinned to my chest like a good citizen and pronouns stitched onto my beanie hat. Every other shop is already festooned with tinsel. Everywhere, they’re selling cards with... that phrase on them, advertising hoardings are full of reindeers and they're pushing C****mas trees outside the tube station, bold as you like.

At this rate we’re never going to destroy the traditional fabric of English life, I think to myself gloomily as I go; we're never going to get rid of its robust tradition of free speech or its timeless values of tolerance and fair play. I used to try to put a brave face on this: don’t let them know they’re winning, I thought. But just lately, I’ve come to the opposite view. Anti-woke warriors aren’t, after all, truly happy unless they imagine that they’re losing.

Look at all that World War Two nonsense, the passionate identification with a heroic Few battling to save this island’s freedoms from a foreign enemy; all that stuff about standing up to tyranny by getting a blue passport or refusing a vaccine; that sense that letting academics research imperial history will somehow 'erase' the past. Look at the fear that a 'woke blob' is going to somehow abolish hundreds of years of tradition by sending mildly worded memos. This is the paranoid style in British politics.

So here you go. No more secret plots. I can reveal that top four on the woke blob hit-list, once we’ve seen off Christmas, are: The Vicar of Dibley (white feminism), cricket (Asian people who like it are victims of false consciousness), straight men finding naked ladies appealing, and mashed potato (because someone told us you like it). Fight us, if you will, in the full soul-shrivelling knowledge that we haven’t a hope in hell of banning any of them.