09 November, 2012
A breath of fresh air
The information you will glean from the press is that he is an old Etonian, inexperienced, in favour of women bishops and against homosexual marriage.
I suppose we must expect that public figures are pigeonholed like this, but I think it a shame. Strangely enough, although I could reel off quite a few facts about the new primate, I never knew he was an old Etonian. People imagine businessmen talk about their schooldays all the time whereas they are of course completely irrelevant. As to inexperience, he is 56, born within a few months of me, which makes him ten years older than the Prime Minister.
I wasn't surprised when Justin threw it all up to study for the priesthood; he is capable of profound thought and able to be decisive. He was an enthusiastic member of an evangelical congregation.
What the public and the establishment will learn about this man is first, of course, that he understands business. We shall no longer suffer the 'all business is wrong, all capitalists are horrid' drivel which came out of Lambeth Palace under Rowan Williams. However, as those grilled by the House of Lords Select Committee on the LIBOR scam found, he is capable of directing a torrent of informed criticism. I don't think he would support the 'Occupy' movement which camped on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, because it was unfocused. He is however just what they need: someone articulate and influential who understands the case against banks and the governments who regulate them, and isn't scared to put his views across.
Welby is a good debater and negotiator for the simple but rare reason that he takes a lot of trouble to understand where the other side is coming from. He will need this skill as schism raises its head in the Anglican communion.
I think it is an imaginative and perspicacious appointment and I wish him all the best.