Spiritual Guidance

22 September 2022

Spiritual Guidance

Archbishop embattled

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

The Archbishop of Canterbury moves in a mysterious way.  In Westminster Abbey his comments were interpreted by many as a criticism of Johnson the recently deposed Prime Minister.  Here’s the London Economic Forum report:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has contrasted the outpouring of emotion for the Queen with how leaders who “cling to power and privileges” will be regarded.

In an address to a congregation packed with world statesmen, current British politicians and former prime ministers, the archbishop said “leaders of loving service” would be remembered when others are “long forgotten”.

The archbishop has had an occasionally frosty relationship with occupants of No 10, particularly Boris Johnson, who was one of the former prime ministers in Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s state funeral.

In his sermon, the archbishop said: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer.

“But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”

Mr Welby clashed with Mr Johnson on issues such as the policy of sending asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda and his concern about the collapse in standards in public life, illustrated by the PartyGate scandal.

The Twitterati were soon at his throat for his support of the Tories in the 2019 General Election.  He had backed up the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in his castigation of the “anti-Semitic” Labour Party as reported by the BBC:

The chief rabbi has strongly criticised Labour, claiming the party is not doing enough to root out anti-Jewish racism – and asked people to “vote with their conscience” in the general election.

In the Times, Ephraim Mirvis said “a new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root” in the party.

Labour’s claim it had investigated all cases of anti-Semitism in its ranks was a “mendacious fiction”, he added.

The Archbishop felt obliged to chip in as The Guardian reported:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has in effect backed the chief rabbi’s comments on the Labour leadership’s record on anti-Semitism with a tweet highlighting the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”.

Justin Welby does not explicitly refer to the Labour party, but his intervention a few hours after the chief rabbi’s excoriating public criticism of Jeremy Corbyn is significant.

In 2020 Starmer used anti-Semitism as his pretext for denying the party whip to his predecessor. He continues to move to the right, trying to appeal to Tory voters and losing Socialist members, apparently by design.

So when the Bolton Rumworth council election delivered a massive swing from Labour to the Conservatives I was quite pleased, assuming that Starmer was being decisively rejected there. 

Rumworth (Bolton) council by-election result:

CON: 55.0% (+44.1)

LAB: 37.6% (-35.2)

GRN: 5.3% (-2.6)

LDEM: 1.2% (-0.8)

REF: 0.8% (+0.8)

No UKIP (-6.3)

Votes cast: 2,928

Conservative GAIN from Labour.

Four times this ward had an election under Corbyn’s leadership, Labour got: 72%, 77%, 76% & 73% of the vote.

People were claiming that it was due to Islamophobic  issues in the Party but that did not seem to ring true given the Tories’ much worse record in that respect.  Then a councillor who had recently switched from Labour to Conservative had done so, so she said, because Labour council members were not being adequately consulted, and she quoted the Haslam Park project, a scheme to build on a nature reserve.  The elected member had switched from Labour to Conservative and the consensus seems to be that he was popular and took the vote with him.  The local Labour Party has it that the Tories played down any connection with the Westminster mob.

The more you dig into it the more it looks like an election decided on the basis of local people and local issues.

I would have loved to report on a significant blow to Starmer’s chances but this is not it.

My favourite Twitter tactic is to ask Starmer, Rayner, Bryant and the like:

Have you apologised to Corbyn yet?

Starmer’s supporters come at me with little videos of people yawning or telling me to shut up, usually in an insulting way.

I am told on Twitter and by friends that the priority is to get the Tories out so I should get behind Starmer but I tediously remind them that if you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil.

I wonder which evil the Archbishop of Canterbury will urge us to vote for in 2024.

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