The archbishop of Canterbury has dismissed his spin doctor after just nine months following Tory protests over a controversial magazine article condemning the coalition. George Pitcher, an Anglican priest and former journalist, was hired last October as public affairs secretary at Lambeth Palace and engineered Rowan Williams's stint as guest editor for the New Statesman last month which saw the archbishop launch a sustained attack on the coalition. His criticism pitted him against the state and left Lambeth Palace officials scrambling to minimise the damage as Conservative politicians and peers berated the archbishop either through the media or through channels at the Church of England.

When approached by the Guardian about his departure Pitcher said: "I am returning to journalism, a culture to which I am better suited."



  1. Come on!
    Rowan is supposed to have a brilliant intellect – I can’t believe he needs someone else to tell him the effect of guest editing the New Statesman, for which I rather admired him.
    Now the organ grinder is attempting to foist the blame on monkey! This is outrageous.

  2. This just grieves me. It really does.

    And don’t I understand Fr. Pitcher’s parting shot! I have also returned to a culture to which I’m better suited. (That is to say, anything OUTSIDE the Church.)


  3. Pitcher was on a short term contract that would have run out in a couple of months anyway.

    And he was pretty disastrous for Rowan. He did not seem to have a grasp on how news is made, spun and spread and he delivered Rowan to the lions after the New Statesman interview.
    How can a communications expert fail so spectacularly to get across what everyone reading the original interview could understand that Rowan made very measured and true comments that applied equally to everyone, but anyone who only read the Daily Telegraph smear article could not discover?

    And who could have failed to anticipate that it would be the Telegraph diatribe that would be reported again and again and that people would base their “analysis” on the Telegraph article rather than on the original?

    The man isn’t going a minute too soon.

  4. Yes, with you too, very frequently.
    But I must admit that I am getting very tired of this “shooting Rowan” game where people seemingly no longer analyse what’s actually happening but just blame him because they have started to hate him.

    It’s not just you, there’s a huge number of people, on the liberal and on the conservative spectrum, who are turning him into a scapegoat for everything that’s wrong. I don’t like it.

  5. He’s just taken responsibility for one of the things that went wrong recently and removed the man who was responsible. And we still don’t like it!!

  6. You read the New Statesman article and you read the Daily Telegraph stuff – come on, you can tell a hatchet job when you see one!

    If you haven’t read them both, do it now and tell me where I’m wrong.

  7. He wasn’t wrong about the New Statesman stuff. In fact it’s one of the few good things he’s ever done. Then he went and ruined it by backing down.

    Runcie never did!!!

  8. Runcie didn’t have a press advisor who delivered him to the lions because he didn’t know how to handle the press.

    The New Statesman stuff was brilliant, old and true Rowan. And then it gets twisted by the press and the politicians – who are only doing their miserable job – and the expert at Lambeth Palace does nothing to sort it out.
    And now it looks as if Rowan accepted the Tory criticism, for crying out loud! How could that happen!
    Because the man who was supposed to have led the LP media campaign messed up badly.
    Of course he had to go.

    Best and most decisive thing Rowan has done in ages.

  9. I think I’m with Erica on this one. I’m not a great fan of the ABC and think he’s disastrously wrong with the whole Covenant idea, but in this case he might well have got it right.

    You ask Erica is she’s ever agreed with anyone. In my few years of following your travails MP I’ve yet to come across an example of where you admit that you might be wrong about something. Maybe I blinked and missed it. You can correct me, and no doubt will.

    Personally I find admitting I’m wrong to be a very healthy exercise, and the older I get the easier it is to do.

  10. The point I was trying to make is that it does not take a genius to realise that if you are ABC and you guest-edit The Statesman, you will irritate those on the right (who happen to be in government). Had he edited The Spectator, he would have irritated those on the left. I cannot believe that ++Rowan needed Pitcher to tell him this, when I bet a class of 14-year olds could have worked it out for themselves. So it really can’t have been a case of Pitcher landing Rowan in it; surely he would simply have made the introductions and administrative arrangements?

    I admired Rowan’s courage in what I assumed was deliberately taking on the government, but find it impossible to believe that the resulting hostility from the Tories took the archbishop by surprise.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you have no political antennae since you spend your time in prayer, in which case why do you presume to take on the editing of a political journal? Or you do regard yourself as a political animal (and have done so since your university days), in which case by what right do you attempt to shift the blame for what you now seem to regard as an error of judgement on to your hired hack (sorry, Mr Pitcher, nothing personal)?

  11. I thought it had as much to do with a dodgy joke he published about the ABC, a babelicous RC journalista and some canapes? OCICBW

  12. a dodgy joke he published about the ABC

    Yes, I fear that may have been what led to me ending up on Skid Row and I didn’t even have the consolation of a babelicous RC journalista or canapes.

  13. How ARE your attempts at not being a parasite on your wife going, then, old bean?

  14. On our site, my colleagues and I are offering a free day of headlining for the best pro-Covenant poster. So far no takers alas. But I wonder if you could not consider the model for the best troll? Clearly there has to be someone better out there!


  15. You’re trying to impress someone with your xtian forbearance and so get a new “cure”?
    Or you want a pitiful chance at snark? Or both?

  16. Dear Troll.

    If you’d been shat upon as much as MP you might also be somewhat jaded in your appreciation of the organised church. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but at least I acknowledge his integrity, which is something you seem not to take into consideration.

    And no, I’m not going to enter into dialogue with you beyond this response to your comments.

  17. Rambligs, well posted.

    I know why you leave him visible MP. It is sort of funny that he does not.


  18. Perhaps evaluating ++Rowan’s performance should have a handicap like a golf score. It is almost impossible to imagine how it must feel to be charged with keeping the disparate bits and pieces of the Communion together and being part of a very sophisticated government where there is an opponent around every corner. Yuck!
    Re: Trolls and Trollism, I think Trolls are people who demand the attention they need, but don’t know how to get it in a healthy way. Sort of like that obnoxious kid in the classroom who gets peer attention by annoying or imitating the teacher when her/his back is turned.
    Peace, nij