In the Labour leadership election, who will get the Catholic vote? Ignatius examines the two front runners and asks what kind of priests they would make.
Andy Burnham, of course, is a catholic. But his Catholicism, like his northern accent, is largely a convenient, cultivated cultural survival. Burnham is a classic, post-Blair metrosexual, and like David Cameron’s Anglicanism, his religion fades in and out according to context.
Everyone knows priests like Burnham. They come from secure lower middle-class homes and are fast-tracked from their grammar schools to the English College. They return with a trousseau courtesy of Annibale Gammarelli, and a determination to claw their way up the diocesan hierarchy. They make excellent ecumenical officers. They look younger than they are and will stay that way for some time yet, if they do not put on weight.
Jeremy Corbyn is an atheist. But he reminds one irresistibly of a certain kind of ex-priest. A scholarly type, he entered the Dominican Order early in life, where he agonised a lot and went on CND marches. A mid-life crisis resulted in his leaving to get married. The relationship proved not entirely successful (perhaps he discovered that he was not the marrying type after all). He has for many years been a field worker for the Save the Children Fund. The history of a troubled life is written on his face.
Who will Joe Catholic vote for?
It’s a no brainer. Ex-Father Corbyn, I would say.