Church of England

Archbishop’s political adviser role advertised exclusively in Guardian and Economist

In the continuous stream of church life, things occasionally niggle. Some are easily shaken off with the passing of time, but others recur like an irritating charismatic leitmotif, keeping alive a misguided quest for new wineskins when you’re really much happier just knocking back the old wine.

Most people don’t care that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s social and public affairs (ie political) adviser has got a new job in Geneva. He’s done a good job and obviously has to be replaced. And most people won’t care how that replacement is found, but… well, when you advertise the job exclusively in the Guardian and the Economist, aren’t you sending out a certain message?

Bear in mind that this is a principal advisory role to the Archbishop of Canterbury on social and public (ie political) affairs. Is it to be deduced that the preferred candidate shares the essential social and political outlook of those two journals? Why otherwise would the Church of England limit advertising the vacancy to them? Is it to sustain a certain liberal status quo which is incapable of reform? The question was put to Jack Palmer-White, the current holder of the post, and here’s how the conversation went:

There appears to be no apprehension at all in the mind of the Archbishop’s current social and political adviser that there is any potential social or political consequence of advertising for his replacement exclusively in socially-left-liberal journals. Yes, of course non-socialists scour the jobs pages of the left-wing media, but we are concerned here with probability and perception. If you advertise a vacancy in the socially-left-liberal media, it is highly probable that the majority of applicants will share that worldview, not least because the congregation is more likely to be imbibing the daily socialist bubbly and happen to stumble upon the exciting new career possibility. Moreover, the medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan informed us. What message is the Church of England (and, indeed, Lambeth Palace) conveying to potential applicants when it advertises a vacancy through the lens of a particular media worldview? How might a Brexit-supporting Conservative perceive a job vacancy set in a context of liberal social biases and left-leaning political ideology?

The Guardian and Economist may not agree on matters of economics, but there’s not a hair’s breadth between them on social philosophy and preferred policy. Both are vehemently pro-EU, pro-free movement and in favour of high levels of immigration. Both also support same-sex marriage, a liberal abortion policy, the legalisation of drugs, assisted dying and the human rights agenda in general. They both share a belief in anthropogenic global warming and the need for mandatory coordinated intervention (with massive taxation). They also both disapprove of the Monarchy (and of monarchy in general). Essentially, they believe that there is nothing that should be socially restrictive; that people should be equal and free, and politics should be ‘progressive’.

All of which (with the exception of monarchy) pretty much coheres with the prevailing political orthodoxy in the Church of England, or with the preferred social gospel of the Bishops and most other clergy.

But this doesn’t seem to matter to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s current social and political adviser (who may very well be pro-EU, pro free movement, pro-same-sex marriage, etc., etc):

David Waddell works for BBC News, and obviously understands.

Perhaps the Church of England and Lambeth Palace have a penchant for a particular political disposition among its advisers?

We must hope (and pray) that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s next social and political adviser will understand probability and perception, and, indeed, grasp the practical reality that the broadest philosophical range of candidates is most likely to be drawn from a broad political range of media. The Church of England doesn’t need to go so far as advertising its future vacancies in the Daily Mail, of course, but if you balked at the very thought of Lambeth Palace being tarnished by Dacre, you grasp the point very well indeed.

  • Anton

    More evidence that Welby is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • IanCad

      I’ve always tried to be generous in my assessment of Welby. It’s getting harder day by day – or rather, post by post.

      • bluedog

        He’s Cameron’s boy.

        • Merchantman

          I thought it had just been determined whose he was.

  • This is the blindness who of eyes who will not see.

  • Shadrach Fire

    So disappointing that Welby should be so manifestly liberal and he is after all an ex HTB. But then we saw that at the Synod.

    • Martin

      Maybe it’s because he is ex HTB

  • Manfarang
  • Well done to HG for pointing out this rather sneaky little move.

    I think the advertisement should be in The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, then they might draw someone who could balance out all the leftie liberals who are leading the Church astray.

    • Manfarang

      I hardly think the Economist is a left wing publication.

      • More left leaning than not. I suspect JW had the ad placed there because he has a background in finance and is comfortable with these types.

        What has a “Social and Public Affairs Advisor” to the ABC got to do with running the Church economy? The role is more for a visionary creative type with a good grasp of the law than a bean counting economist.

        • Manfarang

          Have you ever read the Economist?
          It’s a political magazine which these days has half it circulation in the US.

          • Not for a while. So why is he looking in America for an Advisor?

          • Manfarang


          • RobinHMasters

            He’s welcome to them.

      • David

        Then you are wrong. It is distinctly left learning in its preferences. Read it and you’ll see !

        • Manfarang

          I sometimes do. It is pro-business.

      • Merchantman

        China owna.

  • Inspector General

    To be fair to Welby, this does have a stench of feminist minion about it. But then, he carries responsibility so can we expect a following vacancy in the palace of foolishness…for a minion….

  • oram

    The Guardian has special advertising for roles like”social and public affairs”. The Telegraph and the Times tend not to.

  • carl jacobs

    Ummm … So who actually uses newspapers to search for candidates anymore? Has the CoE figured out that it isn’t 1960?

  • John Waller

    If HG thinks that the Telegraph is socially conservative then he clearly hasn’t read it these many years.

    I doubt that the countering political and social viewpoints he seeks (admirable though they seem to me) exist anywhere in print journalism these days outside of a Pentecostal church’s newsletter.

  • Father David

    It is a strange phenomenon but Archbishop Welby gets much better and more favourable Press coverage than did any of his three immediate predecessors – Runcie, Carey and Rowan.

    • Anton

      What a shower!

      • Father David

        Anton, you aren’t by any chance related to the late great Terry Thomas are you?

        • Anton

          Wish I were!

  • jsampson45

    I don’t see the problem. The Archbishop won’t want someone out of sympathy with his politics, nor will an applicant want to work under an Archbishop out of sympathy with her/his politics. Advertising in the Telegraph or Spectator would merely be hypocrisy and anyone responding to ads in these would presumably not get the job.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Why would Welby need a social and public affairs adviser who has exactly the same sort of opinions that he does? Couldn’t he save the CoE money by simply asking himself what he thinks?

  • IrishNeanderthal

    This may be a change of subject, but since the present article does involve politics, here is a brilliant article in Mosaic Magazine:

    Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom

    Lege, Welby.

    • bluedog

      Exceptionally good analysis. Much appreciated.

  • David

    Like the BBC the C of E’s hierarchy know that their mission is to serve the whole nation. But just like the BBC they continue projecting their own leftists world view whilst pretending that they are serving the wider national constituency. There are none so blind as those that refuse to see !

  • Do applicants have to be practicing Christians or Anglicans?

    • carl jacobs

      No. I think Catholics would be allowed to apply just the same as Christians.

      [Skitters away and hides]

      • You were saying:

        “Surely it was not lost on you that “unusually sensible” implies “usually insensible”.”

    • Martin


      Judging by the bishops in the CoE, being a Christian would be a distinct disadvantage.

  • Martin

    One wonders why he doesn’t read the Bible to get his advice.

  • Chefofsinners

    My sources inside Lambeth Palace confirm there has been some concern that this advertisement might attract the wrong sort of candidate. However, fears have been calmed by the receipt of a high quality application from a Mr Bertram Elzebub:

    Dear Archbishop Worldly

    I have pleasure in applying for the post of social and political advisor as advertised on the Pink News website.

    I pride my self on many things, but particularly my understanding of human nature and my ability to influence people. I have honed my skills over many years, disputing over the body of Moses and working on a range of progressive political projects. Most recently I have been advising Justine Greening in an informal capacity.

    I have long harboured an ambition that I wood worm my way to the heart of Christendom, where I feel I could truly express myself. I can quote scripture extensively and will always find work for any idle hands on your team. I am a very loyal person, always looking after my own, and I feel I would be among friends at the General Synod.

    Employing me would demonstrate inclusivity ensure mutual flourishing. You will not surely die.

    Eternally yours,


    • Royinsouthwest

      Chiefofsinners, you had better do something about your Internet security settings. It seems that the Inspector General has hacked into your computer!

  • Off topic a bit, apologies but some positive news from Press TV reporting that mainly Christian Angola has banned Islam which they consider is a sect. With full governmental backing they are set to destroy about 80 mosques. At last someone taking some decisive action.

    • Manfarang

      Officials in the largely Catholic southern African nation insist that worldwide media reports of a “ban” on Islam are exaggerated and no places of worship are being targeted.
      Under Angolan law, a religious group needs more than 100,000 members and to be present in 12 of the 18 provinces to gain legal status, giving them the right to construct schools and places of worship. There are only an estimated 90,000 Muslims among Angola’s population of about 18 million.
      There are 78 mosques in the country, according to the ICA, and all have been closed except those in the capital, Luanda, because they are technically unlicensed.

    • Anton

      The report is nearly four years old and the truth, which is somewhat more nuanced, has now emerged:

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Well, it wasn’t advertised in The Jupiter.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Maybe they were distracted by NASA’s Juno satellite.

      If the legend of Europa has anything to do with those 27 countries that won’t (as yet) join us in Brexit, maybe the satellite keeps getting radio signals such as:

      “I keep on telling you, Juno, I did not have sex with that woman!”

  • What happened to good news Friday? That was short lived!

  • Murti Bing

    As far as I am aware, the Spectator does not have a jobs section. But the Church Times does. Is this not the correct place for such an ad? Or is it too ‘in house’?

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Of course His Grace has misunderstood. The reason why it doesn’t matter is that the role is actually filled by the old boy network? The advertising is just for show. Is that the reason?

  • Anna055

    Personally I think there should be both a conservative (small c) leaning and a leftish leaning advisor. I would have thought that it would be difficult for one person to be properly in touch with both ends of the spectrum. Given that that isn’t happening, I’d want to ask 2 sets of questions in addition to “Why not the spectator and the telegraph?”: 1. Why the secular press at all? 2. Who decided/okayed where the advertisements were placed, and who else knew?