I don’t know what persuaded the Rev Paul Flowers it was a good idea to be interviewed this week by Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman, but he’s not had a great decision-making track record recently.
Under the circumstances, Paxman was disappointingly passive - I guess he allowed Flowers to hang himself. But what a mealy-mouthed performance it was by the reverend and former Co-op Bank chair. The “I HAVE SINNED” headlines the next day suggested Flowers had offered up a full confessional. Not at all. His smarmy and squirming performance was laden with self-pity. He was “more sinned against than sinning.”
It “wasn’t his job to make a judgement about whether he was qualified for the job of chairman”. “It’s not for me to make a judgement about whether I was qualified, a range of other people at the time said I was.”
“I’m taking full responsibility for decisions that we took… albeit that all the decisions taken were not by me personally, but by the board as a whole.”
At the Select Committee inquiry he was “ill prepared” and “in particular “put off a tad by the aggression of some of the members of that committee and the clear attempts some of them were making to try and trip me up and engage in political point scoring.”
“Flowers came across with Paxman as mealy mouthed, self-pitying, deluded”
Adam Leyland, Editor
The Mail on Sunday article, revealing his use of crack cocaine and rent boys? “I would much rather treat the whole thing with the utter contempt it deserves,” he said.
Have you sinned? “Of course I have sinned in that old fashioned term, that I would rarely use, I have to say. But I’m like everybody else.”
No, Paul, you’re not. As the chairman of a bank, and a vicar, you should be expected to show good judgement and to behave with dignity and restraint. And you should be held to account should you fail to do so. But no.
A vicar getting involved in drugs and rent boys? “They have not had to live in my skin. I had been caring for my mother at home who was dying.”
Any regrets? “Not taking more advice when I should have done. And I think in some ways I’ve been set up to fail in certain areas: because of the structure of the co-operative and the way in which they encourage democrats to move into particular roles and then, to be frank, they suck you dry and spit you out at the end of it.”
Poor, poor me, was the message. Not a word of regret in terms of The Co-op Bank’s customers. Or Co-op Group colleagues. Or the wider Co-operative movement, on to which he has brought shame and disrepute. when it least needed it. Not even to the Church.
Some of the Mail’s politicking is invidious. But there’s only one person that should be held in utter contempt in this whole sordid affair - and that’s the Rev Paul Flowers.