Why Justin Webb gets the nod over Justin Welby

According to a YouGov poll, on the question of trust, respondents ranked a priest below a family doctor, a teacher, a judge and even a BBC news journalist

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Scottish comedian Fred Macaulay, a regular on Radio 4 panel shows, has a great routine in which he talks about his Labrador dog, and explains why Labradors, more so than most other breeds, have a neurotic attachment to food.

Somewhere back in time, a Labrador once missed his meal and, ever since, the anxiety that it should never happen again has been genetically hard-wired into all Labradors. On this, the second day of summer time (that's a laugh, isn't it?), I wonder whether we'll feel the same about that hour that's been taken away from us.

And it's not only the hour that disappeared while we were sleeping: it's the time we spent subsequently changing every digital clock in the house, not to mention all that wasted effort worrying whether the alarm on your smartphone is smart enough to work out that time has mysteriously leapt forward or whether it will wake you up an hour too early (or should be that be late?).

Either way, it has been easy to feel a little disoriented this holiday weekend.

It may be the fault of the men of God. One day it's the former Archbishop of Canterbury complaining about how David Cameron has caused Christians to be persecuted and marginalised - Dr George Carey seemingly oblivious to the paradox that his sermon occupied the front page of the less-than-marginal Daily Mail - and then 24 hours later (or is that 23?) the ex-Chancellor of St Paul's mounts the pulpit to give the Archbish a bashing. "To speak of Christians being persecuted in this country," wrote Dr Giles Fraser in the Mail's Sunday sister, "is an insult to those people in places such as Iran and Pakistan who really are".

Guys, guys. This is supposed to be a holy weekend. It is little wonder that, according to a YouGov poll, 69 per cent of people regard the Church of England as being out of touch, and a little more than one in three agree with the Church's stance on same-sex marriage.

Dr Fraser spoke of Dr Carey's "peculiar obsession with gay sex", and there is little doubt that the more fundamentalist leading Church figures become on this issue the more they are being marginalised by their own hand, without any help from the PM. (There is an echo here with the warnings from elements in the newspaper industry that the adoption of proposals from the Leveson Report will shatter the very foundations on which society is built: I'm afraid that it just doesn't wash with the public.)

It was particularly revealing that, on the question of trust, respondents to the YouGov poll ranked a priest below a family doctor, a teacher, a judge and even a BBC news journalist.

When two senior clergymen can't decide among themselves what's right and what's wrong, it's hardly surprising that Justin Webb gets the nod over Justin Welby. Nevertheless, I still don't hold the churchmen as guilty as whoever stole my hour from me.

And it's going to be worse next year when, as we all know, the clocks go forward two hours as part of an EU directive to bring us into line with mainland Europe.

God help us!