Coffee House

Justin Welby and the Downing Street grid

21 October 2013

21 October 2013

One man who isn’t on message at the start of the government’s economy week is Justin Welby, who has been warning against excessive jubilation at the end of this week when the next tranche of GDP figures are released. He told the Telegraph:

‘A flourishing economy is necessary but not sufficient. A healthy society flourishes and distributes economic resources effectively, but also has a deep spiritual base which gives it its virtue.’

This sounds a little bit like pre-2010 David Cameron, but it doesn’t quite chime with the political offensive that the Tories want to go on this week, accusing Labour of making consistently bad predictions about the economy. The amusing thing for the Archbishop’s team is that Downing Street often sees Lambeth Palace as another government department, expecting to get pre-notification of Welby’s interventions just as it would expect to see announcements from the Energy Department on its media grid. I hear there have been times in the past when Downing Street has felt it necessary to ask for advanced warning of a Welby intervention, forgetting that he’s quite studiously on no-one’s team in the political game, no matter how keen politicians on both sides are to claim him as their own.


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  • 2trueblue

    Welby really should concentrate on his job, looking after the spiritual side of peoples lives to ensure that they can go forward and live good and just lives. Churches up and down the country are empty, his job is to endure that he can fill them with his flock. He should not be on or off message with the government, he should just stick to the path he has chosen, do his job, or go back to the business world.

  • RavenRandom

    People dressed as wizards should concentrate on their job, which is reversing the decline of the Church of England. Why is it every Archbishop thinks they’re some sort of pseudo politician rather than someone whose job it is to reinforce faith in practising Christians and to turn more people into Christians? Perhaps this lack of focus in their core job is why the C of E is going down the tubes.

  • David Lindsay

    The Church of England is now doctrinally closer to its 1950s, or even pre-War, self than at any time since. It is the Conservative Party that, as in the 1980s and at all times since, is completely different. The C of E is still the Tory Party at prayer. It is the Tory Party in politics that was abolished by Margaret Thatcher, the unquestionable idol of what has replaced it. (Blair tried to pull the same trick with Labour, but he never managed it, and Labour is now basically the party that it would have been in John Smith, with his commanding poll leads, had survived.)

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Oh go lie down.

      • David Lindsay

        It is only just after 4pm here. Of course, you cannot have been expected to know that.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Oh go lie down.

          • David Lindsay

            Nor would we form that sentence in that way here in the Motherland.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Oh go lie down.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Agreed, but you forgot to call him ‘lad’ which would have given me a better laugh.

  • perdix

    I can’t remember the last time the CoE implored the unthinking and the selfish to be more caring concerning their neighbours and their children. Welby, like many leftish thinkers, seems to believe it is only the state that can be caring. If individuals took greater responsibility for the wellbeing of themselves and of their families many of the problems which we face economically and socially would be reduced significantly.

  • Russell

    I think it is a toss up as to who is most hypocritical…The Church and their leaders or the National Socialist Labour Party and their ‘leaders’.
    I suppose the difference is that while the Church is obscenely rich and its leaders are relatively just wealthy, the Labour party are bankrupt and its leaders are filthy rich millionaires (at least 7 on their front bench).

  • Canbert

    “he’s quite studiously on no-one’s team”

    With unelected legislators in the HoL and effective public funding via tax breaks, Welby is clearly presiding over a wing of the state. I’d say making them accountable to the executive would be a welcome, if uncharacteristic, outburst of establishment honesty on the matter

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Isn’t he supposed to be signed up to the belief that people come to their own salvation through faith? Isn’t that supposed to be far more important than some quibble about GDP? Does he want us to be richer or poorer? Or does he want to save our souls?

    • David Lindsay

      Isn’t he supposed to be signed up to the belief that people come to their own salvation

      No.

      You are theologically illiterate.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        Maybe I am. But it would have helped if you had pointed out my error. If he was doing anything about saving my soul, maybe I’d understand his getting involved in issues that seem to me to be irrelevant, distracting and not really in his bailiwick.

        • David Lindsay

          He is a Member of Parliament and of the Privy Council. Of course this is his bailiwick.

          And even if he weren’t. “Irrelevant”? “Distracting”? More theological illiteracy. Not unconnected to the jaw-dropping statement that “people come to their own salvation”.

          As the dear old C of E has become more orthodox doctrinally over the last 15 to 20 years, so it has become more radical politically. That always happens. As does the reverse.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Oh go lie down.

  • HookesLaw

    Another Archbish more interested in the secular than the ecumenical.
    However he is right – it is individuals who are charitable; its individuals who he should be preaching to. The business of the government is the wider economic framework.

    I am sure that people who are spiritual have virtue but I think he his being disparaging to suggest that to be virtuous you have to be spiritual.

  • dalai guevara

    The man knows it makes no sense whatsoever to confalte inflation and growth.
    These are two entirely different things.

  • Hello

    You can always tell that it’s going to be a slow news day when Justin Welby starts popping up again. It’s interesting though that two of the most unifying politicians of the age are the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Together they could rule all the world.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Any metric that doesn’t take into consideration population size, the distribution of additional wealth and the nation’s indebtedness is meaningless. GDP might as well stand for:

    Government’s Delusional Premise

    As for Downing Street? Has it ever been as much of a parody as it has been since 2010?

    • Hello

      The most relevant expression of debt is as a percentage of GDP. So, in effect, GDP does take debt into consideration. In fact, it is one of the most relevant aspects of the GDP measure.

    • HookesLaw

      From this we can deduce that the economy is picking up against all your hopes and predictions.

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