Church, State, and the Media

I have never been one of those who think the clergy should keep out of politics, even when I disagree with what they say.

So, like both the Prime Minsiter and Vince Cable, I welcome debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury, even though there are a fair number of things in his "New Statesman" article which I strongly disagree with.

But that is not what struck me most when I looked up the article before writing this post - because I happen to think it is a bad idea to comment on something one has not read.

What struck me most was how ludicrously one-sided the reports of Archbishop Rowan Williams' article in the media, and particlarly the BBC, had been.

Listening to the Today programme, you would have got the impression that the Williams article had been an undiluted left-wing tirade about how terrible the government is.

Well, the article did include a few fairly openly left-wing comments, and some criticisms of the government. However, there were also some criticisms of the left and the opposition - for example Williams says that

"we are still waiting for a full and robust account of what the left would do differently and what a left-inspired version of localism might look like."

Similarly, Williams clearly sees some of the problems about which he is expressing concern as having begun well before the present government, for example he refers to "several decades of cultural fragmentation."

His article also sets down some positive challenges for both left and right concerning how we might improve the functioning of British democracy and education, e.g.

"a long-term education policy at every level that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy."

I get very tired with the way too many lazy journalists will take a speech or an article and go for the lowest common denominator political point which can be extracted from it instead of seeing what we can all learn from it. And it's particularly irritating when the offender is the BBC which we are all effectively forced to pay for.


Jim said…
Im not one who thinks anyone should be excluded from a debate.

The thing that strikes me is other matters of the person that allow us to judge just how credible the person is.

I dont think that it would be wise to seek advise on a nuclear safety matter from a convicted fraudster for example.

In the same way i dont think it's clever to take too seriously political advise from a self proclaimed expert in the unknowable.
Quentin Langley said…
My problem with the media coverage of the Archbishop's views is one of news values. To be newsworthy something needs to be interesting, new, or important.Preferably all three.

The views reported in the media were not interesting. They were standard soft-left thinking. They were not new. All sorts of people, including the BBC and much of the leadership in the Church of England, regard such thinking as standard, indeed almost universal. They were not important. The Archbishop is the head of a large voluntary organisation with a great many members. However, the members, almost unanimously, joined for reasons other than their agreement with the Archbishop's views on political questions. He does not speak for them, or even (as far as I know) claim to do so.

The Chairman of the FA also heads a voluntary organisation with millions of followers, and so does Simon Cowell. But the views of these people on questions outside their area of expertise are not considered front page news.

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020