Michael Williams: Readers' editor

Ban Christmas? Bah, humbug. Castro tried... and failed

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Got the tree up yet? Still haven't bought the prezzies? Then you might enjoy this, from reader Caroline Dobbie, who writes from Norwich: "You claim to be an ethically-minded newspaper, yet you sign up like all the others to this meaningless Christmas orgy of greed and waste. You couldn't move for it in 'The New Review' last week, what with 'Santa Clause' dominating the books pages and Skye Gyngell urging us to 'Eat, drink, be merry'... Why don't you be daring and drop all mention of Christmas? I bet it would be a hit with many."

A "Bah, humbug!" edition? It might work. Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans banished the festive season in 1647 on the grounds that it was a Catholic anachronism that encouraged drunkenness and gluttony, and we'd have some backing from Lenin, who, according to George Orwell, read Dickens's 'Christmas Carol' on his deathbed and told his wife he found its "bourgeois sentimentality" completely repugnant. But we'd face a pummelling from pundits such as Jeff Randall, the "shock-jock" at 'The Daily Telegraph' who condemns white middle-class do-gooders who try to "crucify Christmas" as "demons" whose "assumption of a superior morality is as disgraceful as it is disgusting".

I did some market research and the results weren't promising. Channel 4's plans for an "alternative Christmas message" last year backfired sensationally when the veiled Muslim woman due to deliver it pulled out. And many of the other attempts to "ban Christmas" turn out to be urban myths or inventions of the red-top press. Contrary to popular belief, neither Luton nor Lambeth councils ever barred their citizens from celebrating Christmas. And Birmingham council never renamed it "Winterval", despite hundreds of newspaper cuttings that state the contrary.

What about the British Humanist Association surely it must take a stand against Christmas? Nope. Official policy is that "humanist families choose for themselves what to do at Christmas". Maybe we could invoke Cuba, which banned Christmas for decades believing it diverted the workers from the sugar cane harvest? "Fidel brought it back 10 years ago," explains the consulate. "We're not thinking of banning it again."

Corrections and clarifications

In a column last Sunday, 9 December, it was suggested that accusations made by Janet Alexander that Dr David Southall had harmed her son by conducting research on him had been dismissed by the GMC. To clarify, the recent GMC hearing did not consider these allegations, since the GMC's preliminary proceedings committee had decided some years previously that they should not be included in the heads of charge against Dr Southall. Heads of charge considered by the GMC at the recent hearing against Dr Southall regarded Special Case files.

t Geography corner: Leeds United vs Huddersfield could hardly be a "South Yorkshire Derby", as we said last week, since both are in West Yorkshire, and the HMRC disks did not go missing from Gateshead, but from Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Email readerseditor@independent.co.uk

Wind power: energy of the future or a fantasy?

Offshore turbines could supply electricity for every home in the UK by 2020, it was revealed last week. Bloggers blew hot and cold on the merits of the scheme. To have your say visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

Peter

This is just a colossal waste of money and effort on feelgoodery. Even if the problem is correctly diagnosed, which is a big if, this is a way of not doing anything serious about it, but spending enormous sums in the process.

Stephen Bird

Peter's 'feelgoodery' is right. Also the wishful thinking behind the idea that Britain could lead on wind-generated power generation is laughably misplaced. If Britain wants to lead on energy, it could harness the tides.

David Jefferis

Wind power certainly has a place. Denmark already gets 4 per cent of its energy this way. But it's only part of the solution, and local generation has to be a more efficient answer.

Geomac

This government has once again completely lost the plot on energy. Windmills are far from the answer in themselves. What happens when the wind drops? Do we sit in the dark and shiver?

The Engineer

Geomac, I am an engineer so listen to me. Wind can power England when it blows, and your beloved coal plants can pick up the slack on the rare days when the wind does not blow.

Energetic

There is an old saying: 'No one ever built a windmill if he could build a watermill.' The wind is an unreliable source of power. And infrastructure costs on a huge turbine programme will be met from our pockets.

Geomac

To build some 7,000 windmills would require about 11 to be built every week until 2020 even if they could build for 12 months a year, which is not possible in the North Sea!

Geoff M

While I think there are better ways to build efficient green energy generation, at least it's a move in the right direction. Massive spending in this area is definitely warranted.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

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