Diary: Archbishop's sermon may cost him a place in The Sun


I hear from someone in a position to know that Lambeth Palace is not pleased with the unusual “Sunday Service” delivered by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, in a column in The Sun on Sunday.

Normally, the Church of England is glad to get its message to as wide an audience as it can, and the newspaper's circulation is way bigger than the biggest congregation that ever packed York Cathedral. And the Archbishop will make no material gain from the column, because all money received is pledged to go straight to charity.

What has not gone down well, apparently, is the peculiar mix of faith and product placement. "Ours is a God of second opportunities," the Archbishop wrote. "With that in mind, live in hope, free from fear, and embrace every day God puts before you in confidence. And if you can buy The Sun seven days a week, even better!"

Dr Sentamu was out of reach on retreat, so until he emerges tomorrow, it is not certain whether this Sun column will be followed by others. The offer is open to him if he wants to write another, but with his chances of ever becoming Archbishop of Canterbury heading the way of the News of the World he might be well advised to say no.

So that explains the long faces...

On the very morning that it was revealed at the Leveson Inquiry that the Metropolitan Police loaned one of its retired horses to The Sun's former editor Rebekah Brooks, the main headline on that newspaper was: "Taking us for a ride."

Unhealthy support for Lansley

There was a notable shortage of cabinet support for Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, as he stood up in the Commons yet again yesterday to defend his tattered health-reform bill. The most senior Tory on the benches beside him was Sir George Young, the Leader of the Commons. "If it had happened to one of ours," a former Labour minister remarked, "it would have been either a sign they are hanging him out to dry or he is in the departure lounge – or they can't get their act together."

Tories not party to revealing findings

The Conservative hierarchy say they have completed their internal investigation into Aidan Burley, the MP who was photographed at a Nazi-themed stag party, but are not going to tell us their conclusions just yet. "It would be inappropriate to release the report's findings while French police are conducting their own investigation," a spokesman said.

H'Angus fires 'cabinet'

When people are asked in local referendums whether they want a directly elected mayor, they usually say no. An exception was the town of Hartlepool, where they voted to have a mayor, then elected a monkey. Actually, it was a man in a monkey outfit, who acted as the Hartlepool FC mascot and got himself on the ballot paper as H'Angus the Monkey.

What started as a joke has become serious. Bereft of his monkey suit, Stuart Drummond is still Mayor of Hartlepool, the first elected mayor to win a third full term, and this week he has sacked six Labour councillors from the "cabinet" that runs the local council because they failed to vote for a plan to privatise the council's IT services. It's a far cry from the days when he entertained Hartlepool FC supporters by cavorting with a blow-up doll.

* Congratulations to Today presenter Jim Naughtie for getting through the entire programme yesterday without once mispronouncing his guest, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

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