Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rowan Williams the racketeer

As if this BA cross farce wasn't nauseating enough, Rowan Williams waded in and managed to sort it out. As usual I'm picking up on things long after the dust has apparently settled but this really hacked me off.

Williams has succeeded in 'persuading' BA to rethink its uniform policy. You might be wondering how the old fella pulled it off. Through cogent argument and a few bon mots from a tongue as silvery as his scraggly beard, you might think. Given he's barely capable of exhorting his congregation to acquiesce on which china to serve the tea in, you'd be wide of the mark. No, instead he stared BA chief Willie Walsh in the eye and, in a move more suited to the boardrooms of the Square Mile than the vestry, applied his spindly digits to his adversary's bollocks and gripped hard.

Williams let slip in Rome last Friday that consultations had begun on a possible disinvestment of BA shares. Then low and behold only later that day, faced with losing £10.25m, BA decided the time was right for a review of its uniform policy.

Apparently, the church has what's called an Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The people at the EIAG wrote to Mr Walsh and requested a meeting. Subsequently, John Reynolds, the EIAG chairman, said: "I think this [shows] that the church does have a voice."

Nice. It's probably right that an organisation that trumpets its ethical credentials and is the self-proclaimed moral compass of the nation has an EIAG to ensure its followers hard-donated dough doesn't fall into the wrong hands. But can someone tell me what on earth BA's uniform policy has to do with ethics? The group should be concerned about what BA does with its money. Like whether it's used for gun-running, or paying for prostitutes for its executives, or flying Guantanamo Bay prisoners around the world for the Americans. I'm not interested in getting into the rights and wrongs of BA's policy. But if the best retort Williams and his henchmen can come up with is the fiscal equivalent of taking their ball home because they can't be Wayne Rooney, then they are no better than crooks and should be called by the name.

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