The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, angered government officials yesterday by comparing City bankers to furious rioters who ruined Britain’s cities this past summer.
“Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today’s financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark,” Dr. Williams said in his Christmas sermon, according to the dailymail.co.uk.
Coalition trade and investment minister and a former Chairman of HSBC, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, said yesterday it is wrong to signal out the financial services industry.
“It is important not to treat banking like some special mysterious art, banking is a business and all businesses face this question – what is your contribution to human welfare and to the common good,” Lord Green said, according to the dailymail.co.uk.
Lord Green, also an ordained minister in the Church of England, added that the British government has to remain “watchful” to stop the city from “backsliding.”
“I think a lot has changed since 2008 actually, and I think there has been a lot of soul-searching in the financial services industry, quite rightly too,” Lord Green said, according to the dailymail.co.uk.
“There are clearly a lot of current challenges but at the level we are talking about has there been an attitudinal change? Yes, I think there has,” Lord Green said.
According to figures from the independent Centre for Economics and Business Research, the city bonus pool has been cut by 40 percent since 2008, reiterating Lord Green’s sentiment on financial industry change.
The Archbishop is outspoken about the Coalition’s austerity program, claiming the government pushes “radical policies for which no one voted,” although some polls show public support for cuts.
Lord Green’s contradiction of the Archbishop comes just a few days after Prime Minister David Cameron criticized Dr. Williams on his political commentary in a speech on religion, causing further friction between the Coalition and the Church of England.