There was an official Easter message from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and they were published for the whole world to see on the No10 website. But not this year (the screenshot above is as the site stands at 9.30am, Easter Monday bank holiday).
The omission must be to do with the election campaign, people speculated. Parliament was dissolved on 30th March, so perhaps Government websites reflect the fact that there are no longer any MPs and all parliamentary business has ceased. Except that, constitutionally, the Government does not resign when Parliament is dissolved: the Prime Minister is appointed by the Queen, and all Ministers of State are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. Ergo the Government remains in office until the result of the General Election is known and a new administration is formed.
Which is why the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published Nick Clegg’s Easter message (on 2nd April), in which, despite being an atheist, he affirmed: “What it celebrates is the moving and powerful story of Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection.” And it is also why the FCO published the Foreign Secretary’s Easter message (on 3rd April), in which he appealed: “My hope is that all those facing discrimination, persecution and violence because of their faith – particularly in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity – have a peaceful Easter.”
But throughout the Easter period (and at the time of writing), the Office of the Prime Minister displayed a few humdrum statements, namely about a phone call with President Obama and another with Sultan Qaboos of Oman.
And there is the Prime Minister’s Passover greeting to Britain’s Jews, which was issued on 2nd April (the same day as the Deputy Prime Minister’s Easter greeting).
Funny, isn’t it? The No10 website carries prominent and very prompt (if not advanced) greetings to Jews during Passover, Rosh Hashanah and other holy festivals. And the Prime Minister never fails to wish Muslims well during Ramadan and Eid (both of them). There are effusive announcements about Vaisakhi and fulsome statements about Diwali to embrace Sikhs and Hindus. But nothing this year for Christians about Easter.
It is all the more peculiar because it isn’t as if the Prime Minister hasn’t gone to the trouble of recording one, and it has been tweeted out by the official No10 Twitter account and published on YouTube. “My video message on the importance of Christianity in our national life,” he says..
But, unlike Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Eid (both of them), Vaisakhi and Diwali, the most important festival in the Christian calendar is not apparently so important as to merit publication and dissemination on the official 10 Downing Street website.
Why would David Cameron restrict his Easter greeting to Christians on Twitter? Only 12,490 have viewed that video (it will doubtless climb today). Judging by the Eid-al-Fitr video (currently on 33,994), this increases (at least) three-fold when promoted by the Office of the Prime Minister (ignoring the relative demographic variations in numerical faith adherence, which is obviously a key variable).
Why would David Cameron issue a (bizarre) Easter greeting via Premier Christianity magazine (which doesn’t mention Jesus or the Resurrection, and takes a gratuitous swipe at the Church of England); and another through the Conservative Christian Fellowship (which at least mentions Jesus [though not Resurrection] and is crafted in slightly more orthodox terms for its target audience [there is, after all, an election looming]), but fail to publish his official Easter greeting to all of Britain’s Christians (and, indeed, to all the world’s Christians, especially those throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa) on the official 10 Downing Street website?
It’s not because he doesn’t believe it all, is it? “Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever,” he observes rather prosaically in that Premier Christianity article. But the lack of belief in the Resurrection of Christ doesn’t stop Nick Clegg talking about it. These are politicians, after all. So why no timely Easter greeting on the Downing Street website? Sabbath adherence? A nod to the atheist/humanist/secularist vote? Mere oversight? It may be a mystery for the ages.