Leading article: A Christmas confection

When it comes to Christmas, this newspaper has always been more of a Mr Fezziwig than a Jacob Marley. Imagine our horror, therefore, to learn last week from assorted bishops, home secretaries and swivel-eyed columnists that the abolition of Christmas is under way. Children forbidden to sing the right words to "The Twelve Days of Christmas", the Royal Mail refusing to put Christian symbols on stamps, Birmingham City Council once changing Christmas to "Winterval", the Red Cross scrapping decorations, Job Centres ditto, the Scottish Parliament banning Christmas cards, "Season's Greetings" replacing "Merry Christmas" on government cards and, says a survey by a law firm, three quarters of companies banning Christmas decorations. All, we are told, in the name of political correctness.

But lo! Blow us down with a plastic whistle from a cracker, not a single story seems to withstand scrutiny. Especially the nonsensical claim by that law firm that 74 per cent of all companies had banned decorations "for fear of offending other faiths". Asked to name a single example three days ago, the firm has yet to oblige.

So is this confected indignation a fuss about nothing? Or could it be that there is some other agenda at work? Have, perhaps, the urban legends of Christmas bans become a stick with which to beat religious minorities and local authorities? Whatever it is, this mean and slightly sinister hysteria doesn't seem very Christmasy to us.