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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Welsh Medium Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Primary Tutors needed in Chester

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Tutoring in Cheshire West &amp...

IT Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits