Cameron's hit-back at Archbishop could trouble the shires, says consultant

The Prime Minister's response to criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury has been judged as a high-risk strategy that could cause him problems regionally.

Archbishop of Canterbury: critical of government policies
Archbishop of Canterbury: critical of government policies
Last night, David Cameron said he ‘profoundly disagreed’ with Dr Rowan Williams’ claim, while guest-editing New Statesman, that the Government is forcing through ‘radical policies for which no one voted’.

Cameron's response was backed by further attacks from Business Secretary Vince Cable and Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Weber Shandwick corporate and public affairs chairman Jon MacLeod said: ‘It's a high risk strategy for both coalition parties to try to see off the Archbishop. We have to remember the Church of England is the Tory party at prayer – the row will cause concern in the shires, away from the metropolitan elites.

‘Whatever we think of his remarks, they serve to undermine Cameron's detoxification project and create unhelpful noises in the week that he is trying to fix health and justice policy.’

However, Portland partner George Pascoe-Watson said Cameron is in a perfect position to answer back.

‘David Cameron is at the peak of his political power,’ said Pascoe-Watson. ‘He has no opposition in Ed Miliband. He won local elections he was meant to lose.

‘His personal ratings in the Conservative Party are at 88 per cent. If he can't put the Archbishop in his place now, when can he do it? It's important to use moments like this to put your own message out.’

Pascoe-Watson added that Cameron, through Craig Oliver, is ‘taking advantage of the chance to communicate what the Government has been doing – most of the rest of the time the press wouldn't be interested'.

Freelance public affairs consultant Lionel Zetter said that Williams ‘might be better off concentrating on putting his own house in order’.

‘The coalition Government is making tough decisions in the national interest. In the meantime the Church of England is losing congregations and clergy to other denominations which have a much clearer message and a much more coherent strategy.’

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