Ian Burrell: How the 'Statesman' got the headlines out of Williams

Share
Related Topics

The Archbishop of Canterbury's guest-edited edition of the New Statesman was a triumph for the left-leaning periodical but less so for Rowan Williams himself.

His criticisms of the Coalition government provoked an angry and prompt response from the Prime Minister. A great result for the Statesman.

The strength of Downing Street's reaction may have been related to a striking cover, which showed the Archbishop portrayed in black and white by Scottish photographer Muir Vidler, accompanied only by two wordsm, the title of the magazine. It appeared the Primate of All England was stepping consciously and decisively on to the political stage. In fact, he had originally intended to write his leader about aid to Africa but was persuaded to change his mind and write about the Government.

The Archbishop is the fifth guest editor of the magazine and the most serious. But although the cover portrait gave this production a more personal feel than the previous guest editions (by Alastair Campbell, Ken Livingstone, Melvyn Bragg and Jemima Khan), the Archbishop was actually the only one of the five not to visit the magazine's office. He was represented by spokesman George Pitcher, an Anglican priest who is a former PR man and former industrial editor and religion editor of The Daily Telegraph.

The Archbishop was keen to include reportage from the socially deprived Kent mining communities which he experienced after moving from his native Wales. His cultural leanings are also reflected in the commissioning of a short story from AS Byatt.

His personal interview was with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague (though he would rather have played safe and questioned Ed Miliband). The discussion isn't newsworthy, unlike Ms Khan's lively encounter with Nick Clegg. Campbell generated publicity by interviewing Sir Alex Ferguson and Lord Bragg turned up a world exclusive with the last Ted Hughes poem and helped the New Statesman to its greatest-ever sale.

Lambeth Palace played its part in securing the interview with Mr Hague and in acquiring a piece from film director Richard Curtis (even though the Blackadder creator apparently thought he was being hired by his old partner Rowan Atkinson).

Ultimately, the story in Rowan Williams's guest edition of the New Statesman was – as regular editor Jason Cowley will have quickly realised – the clergyman's own sermon, by turns spiky and woolly. Like any good editor, the Archbishop managed to get his title talked about. Only he knows if he planned it that way.

React Now

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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Ellen E Jones
Scientists have discovered the perfect cheese for pizzas (it's mozzarella)  

Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics

Simmy Richman
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution