“So stick to the day job, archbishop, I’d say”

Before spending too much time contemplating the political musings of the supernaturalist archbishop [or, indeed, those of the publicity-hungry former Prime Minister – Ed], read Michael White’s post.

Rowan Williams is guest-editing this week’s New Statesman (will he do for the Spectator next week? Don’t be silly) and used the occasion to gain exclusive access into the political views of – yes – himself !

Williams thinks the coalition lacks a democratic mandate for its radical package of austerity measures -“long term policies for which no one voted” he claims — underpinned by what he calls “anxiety and anguish” and the “quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the deserving and the undeserving poor”.

Well, it’s certainly a point of view, one expressed by angry bloggers 24/7. Blair puts it rather better (after all it’s his line of work, God’s only his hobby) when he tells the Times that Nick Clegg (“he seems a perfectly nice guy”) has got himself into a mess.

“It’s very hard to fight three elections to the left of Labour and then end up in a Tory government. You can slice and dice that any way you want it, but you have a bit of a problem with it, and I don’t really have an answer.”

He prefers to call this a Conservative government, not a coalition. Good point. He declares 100% loyalty to Ed Miliband as Labour leader but hints that he might be drawn into a “nostalgic” Old Labour stance. It has caused no waves, Blair positions himself carefully as a progressive.

Like Williams, Blair says he is most concerned about society’s poorest. I believe them both but the question is: what do you do about it in the real world?

What options did the country have after it denied a majority to any of the three competing parties in May 2010?

Read the whole thing.  Meanwhile, a “blood-crazed ferret” comments

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s highly politicised and biased criticisms of the Coalition lessen the dignity of his office. But here’s the key point. This is displacement therapy, designed to take Dr Williams’s mind off the shocking crisis of morale in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

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  • andnowwhat

    I saw the opinion that is noted at the latter part of this blog all over the Daily Telegraph’s comment section.

    Is the inference that Williams should be so consumed with t

  • andnowwhat

    I saw the opinion that is noted at the latter part of this blog all over the Daily Telegraph’s comment section.

    Is the inference that Williams should be so consumed with the machinations of his church that they consume him to such a point that he has no time for anything else or is it an exercise in avoidance?

  • At ordination, any priest, minister or bishop will confess their primary responsibility to be the ‘cure of souls’ within their given ‘parish’. As Rowan Williams’s ‘parish’ is Great Britain, could be in any way possible that he is speaking with genuine concern for the welfare of his ‘parishioners’?

    It’s easy to sneer, but perhaps the Archbishop is attempting to make use of the platform he’s been granted by the New Statesman.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Fantastic intervention by Rowan Williams and a useful perspective. Do Tories write him off as just a bit of a pinko liberal? Maybe he is. But it should trouble them that a reasonable and highly intelligent man, tasked with watching out for the moral and spiritual welfare of the people, is deeply concerned about the government’s programme.

    His points on the problems with the democratic legitimacy of some measures is well made. It’s just not on to go into an election planning a major shake-up of the NHS but without telling the public; or as the Lib Dems have done, to go into the election prescribing cuts over a longer term then switching to the opposite policy a few days after the election. Yes the parties can form a coalition and change their policies to find a compromise – I have no problem with that. But they should also have kept a respectful eye throughout on how Britain voted.

    Parties favouring a slower approach to the cuts rather than faster, when we voted, got about 60 per cent of the vote. All polls indicate speed of cuts was THE No1 issue of the election. Yet a government with the other approach gets in and has no embarrassment about implementing this aspect of its policy. Brazen.

    The electorate did not deliver the Tories a mandate to push through a radical conservative agenda. The Lib Dems have basically enabled a minority Tory government to act like one with a sweeping majority. They should have been more willing to threaten letting the Tories go it alone. I think the Tory programme then might have been somewhat less radical then and would have reflected better what people actually voted for. They wouldn’t have tried the NHS reforms then and they might even have had to work a bit harder to come up with a consensus approach to the economy, to get the budget through.

  • andnowwhat

    Well said MU.

    Furthermore; the coalition (lets be honest, the unchallenged tories) are implementing long lasting policies such as on pensions, that they have a questionable authority/mandate to implement.

    Cameron has gone for the divide and conquer tactic of setting the population against those on benefits (whether they receive them legitimately or not. Yes, I know they deny this) and private sector employees against the private sector ones.

    The tactics were blatant (they would point out a top line employee with massive responsibilities in health or defence, for example and delude the unthinking that they were somehow representative) and yet few in the MSM challenged them.

  • Turgon

    Some of what Rowan Williams says is very fair. Although he is short on alternative plans it is maybe too easy to dismiss him as an ineffectual though intellectual fool.

    That is the problem: it is just too easy to dismiss Williams. As is noted in the articles the CoE has begun to disintegrate whilst the Anglican Communion is in absolute chaos. Not all of this is his fault but he is making absolutely no progress on stopping it precisely because he says different things to different groups.

    Furthermore his previous outbursts make him too easy to dismiss. Although his speech on Sharia Law was more nuanced than it weas presented again it was too easy to suggest that he wanted hand amputators and women stoners given at least some credibility in the UK.

    Even Williams’ appearence (sorry to man play) is a problem: he looks like a beardy excessively clever wierdo liberal with no common sense: a hang over from the worst excesses of the early 1970s.

    As such even when Williams makes fair points they can easily be shot down. The fact that he does not propose alternatives is not even needed as a criticism from the right: Williams has accidentally discredited himself even before he speaks. That this happens to him is unfair and is man playing. However, the fact that Williams either does not understand or does not care that this happens is a major failing in one who is supposed to have a major public role.

  • qwerty12345

    Turgon wrote: “he looks like a beardy excessively clever wierdo liberal with no common sense”

    yeah thats what they said about Jesus too.

  • ThomasMourne

    Good on ye, Rowan!

    The Labour ‘opposition’ is hopeless at standing up to Tory policies.

    Blair cares as much about society’s poorest as he does about the goose that provides his foie gras.

  • otto

    Is it a church endorsement of “blue labour” (can we start calling it christian socialism yet?) – security in the profession/guild, mutualism, respect for personal dignity, especially the dignity of work. All good things and all undermined by the endless upsucking of bureaucratic capitalism.

    “For someone like myself, there is an ironic satisfaction in the way several political thinkers today are quarrying theological traditions for ways forward. True, religious perspectives on these issues have often got bogged down in varieties of paternalism. But there is another theological strand to be retrieved that is not about “the poor” as objects of kindness but about the nature of sustainable community, seeing it as one in which what circulates – like the flow of blood – is the mutual creation of capacity, building the ability of the other person or group to become, in turn, a giver of life and responsibility. Perhaps surprisingly, this is what is at the heart of St Paul’s ideas about community at its fullest; community, in his terms, as God wants to see it.”

  • rhys

    Archbishop Williams did well (his ‘parish’, by the way, is the Province of Canterbury, not Britain). I was struck by the cartoon in the Guardian today, which seemed to be senselessly hostile. Steve Bell’s senile, I suppose, and those liberal buggers would prefer Hitler to any hint of religion. So it goes!

  • Jimmy

    I think everyone Including the Archbishop has the moral duty to call to account the Policies of the Political class. Most people disagree with Government policy and are ignored, when a high profile critic does it we see the usual securalist rabble come out of the woodwork to scream interferance.
    Of course religous interferance by Mad clerics has played such a negative part in this country its difficult to not see the same perceptions, Nevertheless Nationally I would say the comments are healthy critisms and a form of checks and balances.

  • abucs
  • fordprefect

    I think what Rowan Williams said was spot on! As Mediatree said, he used the New Statesman as a political platform, good! It’s a platform we plebs haven’t got as this “government” doesn’t give a shit about what we think or say!

  • andnowwhat

    Considering that the tories (like all parties) have no botherusing Kirstie Allsop, Carol Vorderman etc. it’s a bit rich for Cameron or others to lambast Williams

  • andnowwhat. Yes, Cameron has taken his cue from GW Bush and acted as if he had a crushing majority[he might as well exploit the good luck he had. Clegg has about as much clout in this pseudo-coalition as his predecessor during the second term of Thatcher. Cameron will do a lot of damage to the country’s welfare system before he’s finished.