Diary: Tricky Bishop Dickie makes a bid for the thick ground


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The Independent Online

Mitres aloft, one and all, to Richard Chartres. The Bishop of London is quite the muscular Christian in demanding the Occupy movement vacate St Paul's forthwith, albeit that he offeres a couple of sops to the tent-dwellers if they heed unto him and go in peace. Apart from convening a panel to discuss the issues, his Grace pledgeth to continue his "ongoing discussion with City leaders about improving shareholder influence on excessive remuneration".

Well, ain't that just spiffing? Those I had hoped one day to call "my fellow professors of journalism" (see elsewhere for the death of that dream) will be reminded of the Skibbereen Eagle, the County Cork rag which in 1897 warned the Tsar of Russia that it was keeping a close eye on his expansionist ambitions towards China. Ordinarily one might dismiss the Bish as a laughable biddy for such vainglorious bleating, but with the Canterbury gig up for grabs we salute his electoral cunning.

The joint favourite to succeed Rowan Williams is well aware of the unspoken Anglican rule that alternates Canterbury between the intellectual lefty atheist (Robert Runcie, Dr Williams) and the dim right-wing believer (George Carey).

It being the right-wing thickie's turn, my lord bishop may wish to neutralise his chief rival Dr John Sentamu, God's guy in York, by invading his natural territory. For this classic if crude political manoeuvre we forgive Tricky Dickie, though he knows precisely what he does.


* If Chartres does get Canterbury, who will replace him? The great Richard Coles, erstwhile Communard turned radio-show presenting cleric, tweets a clarion cry for the equally magnificent and currently unemployed Giles Fraser to be made Bishop of London. And so say all of us to that.


* Returning to my long-cherished dream of a chair in journalism, it expired, alas, with Sir James Savile OBE, who alone could have made it come true. We wouldn't be so tasteless as to remark on the aptness of Sir Jim, who would have turned 85 today, being born on Hallowe'en. What we would say, after seeing Tony Blackburn pay tribute on breakfast TV yesterday, is that he needs an urgent word with his wigmaster. That silver creation is the sort of thing you'd buy for £4.99 in a Blackpool joke shop if you lacked the stomach for the Viking hat.

* Now then, now then, further claims seep out about Mr Tony Blair's dealings in the central Asian autocracy of Kazakhstan, where he has become a valued adviser to the lifetime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

One Sunday paper reports that the latter, despite an imperfect human rights record, is relying on Mr Tony to fix it for him to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Goodness gracious indeed.

Another posits that the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, a contributor of some £4m to New Labour and Kazakhstan's largest employer, brokered whatever deal the two have struck.

Since Mr Tony assures us that he has no more profited by a farthing in Kazakhstan than in Gaddafi's Libya, the interest is purely academic. Still, let's hope there is more studying to be done in the coming weeks.


* Unlike Mr Tony, some cleave more to Mammon than God when it comes to remuneration. Take (please; and don't bring him back) Alan Hansen, whose weekly fee for resting on the Match of the Day sofa is £40,000 (£1.5m per season). Quite a bargain for such an acute and fascinating pundit.

In more challenging budgetary times at the BBC, some might politely question such a stipend for a man who could tranquillise a stampeding herd of psychotic rhinos with two platitudinous sentences.

Thankfully, this hardly being an age of brutal assaults on jobs and staff benefits, no Jonathan Ross-style rancour need ensue.

Has Esther really run out of tears?

A delight to hear Esther Rantzen on Radio 5 Live plugging her book marking 25 years of ChildLine, Running Out Of Tears.

The very thought of it. The day Esther, right, whose only failing is that, if anything, she cares too much, runs out of tears will be the day hell quite literally freezes over.

Either that, or she'll want checking out for Lupus or some other tear-duct-affecting autoimmune disease.