Monday 30 October 2023

Identifying the right hero


Whether Christmas is the religious celebration as some wish to see it, or some sort of re-purposed celebration of the winter solstice as others choose to see it, is a matter of opinion, albeit often strongly-held. As a question of historical fact, since no-one really knows exactly when Christ was born, choosing an existing pre-Christian feast as the time to celebrate that birth was a shrewd piece of marketing for those seeking to convert the population to the new religion.

In practice, most of us are happy to adopt a ‘live and let live’ philosophy rather than demand that others must accept our definition of the nature of the event, whichever definition we choose. That said, for historical and cultural reasons, even in an increasingly secular society, most of us are also aware of, and tend to support, the seasonal concept of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all men’. It's an idea which is strongly associated with the Christian take on Christmas (although some of us might wish that the sentiment wasn’t confined to such a short period of the year). It’s also generally seen as a time for families to take a break and be together.

Unless, of course, we are talking about the Home Secretary. It has been revealed this week that she has cancelled all Border Force leave over Christmas, in the expectation that the Supreme Court judgement due in early December will give the green light to start flying people to Rwanda. If that is indeed the outcome, the staff will be needed to implement the decision before and during the Christmas break. It’s a strange sort of ‘goodwill to all men’ which doesn’t even apply to her staff, let alone those who they will be expected to strap forcibly into aircraft seats if her dream comes to pass.

Many of their previous statements have led me to wonder whether members of the current government really understand the ‘British’ values which they claim to espouse, because they have a curious way of showing it. In this case, I can’t help but wonder whether Braverman has read the traditional story of Christmas through her own distorted lens and somehow concluded that Herod was actually the hero.

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