Friday, 31 December 2010

A reply from Eric Pickles (well, one of his minions)

Back at the end of last month I wrote to Eric Pickles after he claimed that "politically correct grinches" at local authorities were trying to airbrush Christianity out of Christmas. The claim was initially made in a Conservative Party press release, with a slightly watered-down version appearing on the Department of Communities and Local Government website shortly afterwards.

Anyway, I've finally had a reply from Eric's department:
Thank you for your email of 29 November 2010 to our Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP regarding recent newspaper articles and comments referring to a “war on Christmas”. As I am sure you will understand the Secretary of State receives a vast amount of correspondence and cannot answer it all personally. Consequently, your letter has been forwarded to me to reply.

The Government very much recognises that Christianity has had an immense historic influence in shaping society. Churches make significant contributions in a wide range of areas, such as community development, education, social inclusion and our heritage.

Britain has a proud tradition of religious tolerance within the law. A key part of this tolerance is respect for others beliefs and religious practices and an understanding of how our own practices impact on others. The Government, therefore, takes great pride in recognising differing religious festivals throughout the year.

However, Christmas is a special time for reflection and celebration in this country, and we therefore wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Which is all very interesting, but of course doesn't in any way address the main point of my letter - namely that there is no "War on Christmas" and that the three examples cited by Eric were just tabloid scare-stories that have been rebutted many, many times.

I've replied to DCLG with a Freedom of Information request asking to see any evidence that was collated or studied by the department prior to the press release being issued. A response on that is due by late January, so I'll update you all on any progress in a few weeks.


Sam said...

What is particularly interesting about this response is the resorting to the "but what about x" argument.

You would think any form of discourse would address a point fully before moving onto the next. It is as if your original point (which has nothing to do with the contribution of Christian communities) has no reasonable comeback other than "yeah, he was being a reactionary bigot to gain short-term support"; and so it is brushed under the rug.

So much for any form of reasonable correspondence with our elected representatives then.

Anonymous said...


Derek Tickles said...

We seek to be on the same crusade. I have also submitted various Freedom of Information requests relating to Eric Pickles campaign against Winterval.

My blog

Keep up the good work

Derek Tickles

valdemar said...

Well done, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. Be interesting to see what crap they throw at the FOI request. My experience with writing to my MP is to never ever expect a response to a straightforward question; to always have it answered by a minion who avoids like the plague addressing the question.

Derek Tickles said...

Pesky Uncle Eric has declared my related FoI request vexatious. The sheer cheek of the man!

I will request an internal review as there is obviously zero evidence to support his baseless rants.