Fraser Nelson

Wanted: Leadership

Wanted: Leadership
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A new motto - "uncertain times call for uncertain leadership" - could apply right now to the Church of England, the government and parliament. In my News of the World column today, I say that the Williams fiasco fits a depressing trend.

1. The Church of England is in crisis. Its own figures show a fall in attendance which, if left unabated, would leave it empty within about 25 years. Williams’s response to this seems to be embracing what he wrongly sees as modernity.

2. Governments weather global economic downturns with low debt, building up surpluses in the fat years. Brown already had an outrageous deficit and has stumbled into the Northern Rock fiasco which left another £100bn more on the nation's credit card. This is the equivalent of a month of black Wednesdays.

3. Labour rebels have a powerful critique, which Charles Clarke vented yesterday. But without a leader, this will come to nothing.

4. The expenses row is critical, the House of Commons needs someone to take radical drastic action or Britain will view its political class as Italy views its. Instead of a leader we have Michael Martin, an establishment crony who loves expenses as much as the next man. In all the above, the hour has cometh but not the man. David Cameron has yet to strike a sufficiently clear contrast to all this. He has the skill, character and opportunity but lacks strategy. His radical schools programme, for example, remains unexplained. He is swinging from one initiative to another, and needs more focus.

We have been here before. In the late 1970 a liberal morass afflicted the (Catholic) church and the British and American governments. Then came John Paul II, Thatcher and Reagan. John O’Sullivan’s brilliant book about this trio starts with a vivid picture of the scene that preceded them, and it has much resonance with today's problems. The C of E has its john Paul II in John Sentamu. But first, it needs to recognise the extent of its problem. This is more than just a gaffe. It is about the church's very survival.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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