Cameron and Clegg have managed to find an Eton educated posh boy millionaire with a background in oil for top job in the Church of England. PETER FROST reads the lesson.
If you blinked you may have missed the Right Reverend Justin Welby’s meteoric rise to become Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a quick ride to the top.
The 56 year old Welby has only been a bishop since June last year.
Less than 18 months later he has been parachuted into the top job in the Church of England – commonly known as the Tory Party at Prayer.
Cameron and Clegg stage managed the appointment despite the views of more progressive sections of the Church itself.
Appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury is in the gift of the Prime Minister and David Cameron knows exactly the kind of person who gets a place in his Tory team.
So its no surprise that’s God’s new man in Canterbury has a similar background to most of Cameron’s Cabinet.
Welby was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history and law.
He worked in the international oil industry – a great place to learn Christian ethics – and became a millionaire, thus ticking another box on Cameron’s list.
Welby’s father had a colourful history – both as a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate twice and as a booze runner with the Mafia in prohibition America. The new archbishop doesn’t talk much about dad.
His mother’s family included several clergymen.
When Cameron wanted a tame clergyman for his Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards Welby was chosen as the man for the job.
Cameron and Clegg had a bigger problem with the top church job and some of the other candidates for the position, ones that the church itself would have liked to see installed as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Top favourite was Dr Sentamu, Archbishop of York.
Cameron didn’t think his Tory backwoodsmen would be keen on a black archbishop particularly one who has been so outspoken.
Sentamu, for instance, had acted as an adviser to the Macpherson Inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. Black mark there.
Another leading candidate was Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres,
Chartres recently hit the headlines after he took the side of the Occupy London Camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral. He is also too much of a militant environmentalist for Cameron and Clegg.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens. Leader of Church of England bishops in the House of Lords, recently criticised the government over the proposed benefits cap.
He said he feared it would discriminate against children from poorer families and wants to see Child Benefit removed from the calculation.
Whoops, another candidate out of the running.
The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, ruled himself out when he came down firmly in favour of keeping our forests in public ownership d after chairing an independant commission for Defra minister Caroline Spelman – she lost her job and James Jones lost his chance of promotion.
It was clear to Cameron and Clegg that the church couldn’t be trusted to find a nice Tory boy to do the job so they parachuted in Justin Welby.
The new Archbishop has inherited the job in exiting times. The Church has made a complete fool of itself voting against women Bishops which Welby supports.
It is also in schism about same sex marriages and gay bishops both of which don’t get the new man’s vote.
Meanwhile most Anglican vicars are preaching to tiny shrinking congregations.
It sometimes seems the most important ways the church is serving local communities is as locations for pretty weddings or providing local villains with a source of income nicking the lead from the Church roof.
When the new Archbishop of Canterbury takes up is new job early next year I doubt that that will change much.
But that isn’t why David Cameron gave him the job.
This article first published in the Morning Star, 2013