Conservative leadership diversity
Society and Social Structures

Diversity: Conservative Party shows Church of England how to do it

The eight candidates in the Conservative leadership contest are the most diverse and inclusive group of contenders for Prime Minister in history. They have risen on merit, and won the affirmation of their colleagues on merit. There are white men and white women; there are Asian men and women, and there is a black woman. There is a Kurdish refugee who fled Saddam’s Iraq, a Nigerian who worked in McDonald’s to pay her way through university, and a child of immigrants from Kenya and Mauritius. They are Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and no faith. They are, in short, representative of modern Britain.

The Conservative Party is no longer the party of white male patriarchy. It is no longer the party of elite education and great wealth. It is the party of diversity and inclusion, and it is diversifying and including much more successfully than other parts of the establishment. It is the party of mobility and meritocracy, and that is a good thing because conservatism is organic and evolutionary: it morphs to each social context and adapts to each new era. When Conservatives do conservatism, they tend to win.

The Conservatives were the first party in Britain to elect a minority ethnic prime minister; Benjamin Disraeli in 1868. They were the first party in Britain to elect a woman prime minister; Margaret Thatcher in 1979. And they may well be on the verge of electing the first black or Asian prime minister, who may well also be their third woman leader.

The Labour Party – “the party of equality” (and the preferred party of Church of England bishops) – is still yet to elect its first woman leader. While Labour virtue-signals its commitment to equality and chants its mantra of diversity and inclusion, the Conservatives realise and reify them – not with quotas or ‘engineered’ lists, but by sponsored mobility, the recognition of ability, the nurturing of talent, and advancement on merit.

The Church of England have announced changes to the way future Archbishops of Canterbury will be chosen.

They have decided that the global Anglican Communion will be given a greater voice, because the Archbishop of Canterbury is not only principal leader of the Church of England, but primus inter pares of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

At the moment, the Worldwide Anglican Communion outside of England has been represented by just one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury. Henceforth there will be five representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion – one each from Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, Oceania and Europe.

The new rules also stipulate that there must be a balance of men and women, and at least half of the five will be of ‘Global Majority Heritage’ (ie minority ethnic).

In order to make room for the minority-ethnic members, the number of representatives from the Diocese of Canterbury will reduce from six to three.

The Archbishop of Canterbury hailed the changes:

“From the richest to the poorest nations, the Anglican Communion spans a hugely diverse tapestry of societies, cultures and human experience.

“Anglicans worldwide have a profound and historic relationship with the See of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has the great privilege of serving as a focus of unity for Anglican churches across the globe.

“It is only right that this international family of churches is given a voice in the process of selecting the ‘first among equals’ of the bishops of our global communion.

“That is why I am pleased that General Synod has voted to increase the representation of Anglicans from around the Communion in the process of choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury.

“This small but important step will ensure that the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Canterbury has balanced and diverse representation from the entire Anglican Communion.

“I also want to thank the Diocese of Canterbury for giving up three seats on the Canterbury CNC to enable this change.

“I pray that this significant step will bind us more closely together as disciples of Jesus Christ, called to share his good news with a world in need.”

This makes a degree of sense – or even quite a lot of sense – until one considers what would happen if this engineered selection panel of “balanced and diverse representation” decided to be ultra-inclusive, and recommend that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England appoint a black African bishop to the See of Canterbury who had no time for women priests, no truck with same-sex blessings, and no ontological entertainment of same-sex marriage.

Or would this engineered selection panel of sex/gender and ethnic diversity not be quite so diverse in its theology? Would its members be screened to ensure ‘right-thinking’ before they are appointed? Will their list of potential candidates for the See of Canterbury also be engineered to ensure a balance of men and woman and minority ethnic candidates? Or would they all be white men?

Would it not be better, not to say fairer and simpler, just to reverse Gordon Brown’s reforms and permit once again the diversity which is manifestly to be found in Conservative prime ministers (if not the alternating Conservative and Labour governments) to make the recommendation of future Archbishops of Canterbury to the Supreme Governor?

Why is the “balanced and diverse representation” of a socially-engineered CNC preferable to the organic diversity of those who occupy No.10 Downing Street? Isn’t one of the diverse and inclusive candidates for Conservative leader and Prime Minister more likely to recommend a future Archbishop of Canterbury (and, indeed, all diocesan bishops) who not only reflects the country they are serving, but recognises and respects that the worldwide Anglican fraternity cannot be sustained by an Anglican pope – even one selected by an engineered CNC of “balanced and diverse representation”?