The Archbishop-elect shows no fear of demons in pinstripe suits

Experience negotiating with fearsome warlords in Nigeria makes parliament a doddle

Share
Related Topics

It would be premature as well as irreverent to invoke the eviction of money changers from the Temple But to judge by yesterday’s showing, bankers would be highly unwise to mess with His Grace.

Having decided to remain on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards despite being named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Welby not only turned up at yesterday’s session. He made a difference.   

You couldn’t help wonder if the financiers might have preferred him to confine himself to his enlarged pastoral duties.  It’s not just that his theological dissertation was ominously entitled “Can business sin?” Or that he recently told a conference that before 2008 “the industry was referred to as financial services, but in fact it served nothing”.

Or that having worked  in the oil business  he knows  what high finance is all about. As a man who by all accounts repeatedly risked his life negotiating with –and at times being kidnapped by– fearsome warlords in Nigeria, he is unlikely to be intimidated by men in pinstripe suits, however expensive.

Whether or not  in deference to his new job, he was yesterday promoted to a seat  between former Chancellor Lord Lawson and  the Commission’s chairman Andrew Tyrie who simply referred to him – so grand is this august and erudite body – as “Justin Welby”, despite his cross, the unobtrusive dog collar and  the imposing  nameplate proclaiming him “The Lord Bishop of Durham”.

His Lordship is the polar opposite of Gerald Ford who, according to LBJ, couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Indeed he is such a multi-tasker that he managed to tap regularly on his iPad, write – with pen and paper – copious notes and ask some of the more intelligible questions of yesterday’s witness, Sir John Vickers, the man appointed after the crash to recommend reforms of the stricken banking industry.

Asking about  “cultural contamination” across the “ring fence” that Vickers proposed will henceforth  separate the investment and retail arms of banks, he suggested that an investor-banker chairman would be able to influence the retail side of the business, not by “subtle osmosis” but by simply declaring “we’ve got to push these dozy people in retail to be more aggressive”.

He gave a dry and pregnant  laugh when a heavily  sceptical Tyrie asked whether  Vickers’ view  that bank directors would be entrusted with enforcing the “spirit as well as the letter” of new regulations, meant  that “we have got to rely on bankers to deliver this [because]…their hearts are in it.”

And the Bishop  asked Sir John, with just the faintest hint of incredulous distaste, whether it would still be possible for a bank’s retail operation  to sell derivatives “manufactured” –the term used by his Liberal Democrat fellow Commissioner John Thurso – by the investment arm.

His Lordship knows better than most that you cannot serve two masters. And it doesn’t look as if he’ll be choosing Mammon.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
It's not only the British who haven't been behaving well abroad; pictured here are German fans celebrating their team's latest victory  

Holiday snaps that bite back: What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays in Shagaluf

Ellen E Jones
Simon Laird (left) and Sister Simon Laird, featured in the BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets  

Estates of the nation: Let's hear it for the man in the street

Simmy Richman
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?