The time has come to select a new Most Reverend Father in God, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan. The CVs have been sifted, references requested, candidates shortlisted, and Google consulted (just in case.. skeletons.. cupboard..).
The betting shops display the usual array of odds, with the favourites presently enthroned in the cathedrals of York, Liverpool, Durham, Norwich and Coventry. You can even get 200/1 on Richard Dawkins succeeding Dr Rowan Williams, of which there’s about as much chance as the Pope beatifying Martin Luther.
It is to the eternal credit of the Church of England that the Reformation was not marked by the imposition of a ‘Year Zero’ in the historical episcopacy. Thomas Cranmer was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have been appointed by the Pope – the 69th in a line going back to 597 when Augustine of Canterbury became the first Apostle to the English. But Cranmer was also the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be appointed by the King, which was a logical corollary of the Monarch having become ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England’. Continue reading →
This might seem like a very small victory, or a relatively insignificant retraction from the onward progression of the EU’s ‘ever closer union’ which has (until very recently) seemed inexorably one-way. But Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has firmly rebuffed the pompous Europhile academics and statisticians who demand unquestioning compliance to EUniformity.
From the end of October, the Department of Communities and Local Government will no longer collate or publish data based on the EU’s regions, which form part of the administrative landscape in all member states. Instead, data will be gathered along distinctly UK business and council-led Local Enterprise Partnership boundaries, to complement existing statistics gathered by local authorities. Continue reading →
The name of Adonis will go down in the history of education in England as one of the most reforming and far-reaching ever – right up there with Forster, Balfour, Butler and Boyle; names which have become synonymous over the years with their respective legislative acts. This achievement is all the more astonishing since Andrew Adonis was only an advisor, then head of policy, and then a minister: he was never Secretary of State, and yet his name eclipses dozens of those who have carried that brief.
While Tony Blair and Gordon Brown steadily gnawed their way through six education secretaries who issued 14 separate acts of parliament, along with a seemingly endless stream of white papers, green papers and flowery reports, Adonis was quietly beavering away in the background to forge the academies programme – a new breed of quasi-independent state schools, designed to replace the failing, mediocre, inadequate ‘bog standard’ comprehensives, with the sole objective of raising student attainment in areas of high social deprivation. Continue reading →
There really couldn’t have been a more fitting climax to the 2012 BBC Proms season. The past eight weeks of world-class music have spanned everything from Beethoven to Broadway; following hard upon the patriotic fervour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; running concurrently with the agonies and ecstasies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been a summer unlike any other – and Roger Wright, BBC Proms Director, knew he had to pull something special out of the bag to complement the national mood rather than try to top the bill.
And he did it. The programme was eclectic, patriotic, at times quite exhilarating, and (very wisely) significantly pulled back from last year’s rambling and tacky ‘Down-at-the-Old-Bull-and-Bush’ feel, which had us all singing about pappadums to the tune of ‘Nessun Dorma’, and gave us a pantomime Britannia dressed up like a Christmas tree, but outrageously deprived us of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Songs. No, this year was perfectly pitched and much better balanced between the classical and the ‘red, white and blue’. It was also broadcast live in 3D at Odeon cinemas across Britain, in addition to the open-air gigs in Belfast, Caerphilly, Glasgow, and the London ‘over-spill’ in Hyde Park. This was great access to a great British institution: the BBC does more every year to expand Henry Wood’s vision of making classical music accessible to the masses. Continue reading →
Much has been said and many column inches have been written on David Cameron’s first Cabinet reshuffle. The questions are profound: did it represent a tilt to the right? How many bright young things were promoted? How many women now sit around the table? How many gays? How many black or brown faces? It is as though quotas have supplanted ideas, and power-play were more important than policy.
David Cameron has only 2½ years of his premiership remaining: the reality has dawned that he might be a single-term prime minister, so by this reshuffle he had to send out a few strong messages. When you appoint a climate-sceptic to Environment, a Euro-sceptic to Justice, and an anti-equality homo-sceptic to Equalities, you’re drawing some future battle lines in terms of political direction and the tone of debate, doubtless with an eye on the fractious backbenches. But Owen Paterson, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller will soon find that their hands are tied and briefs meticulously prescribed by our overlords in Brussels: there’s little room for manoeuvre, however it’s spun. Continue reading →