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Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Sunday, 13 February 2011

Transcript of Dr John Sentamu interview

PLEASE NOTE "THE ANDREW MARR SHOW" MUST BE CREDITED IF ANY PART OF THIS TRANSCRIPT IS USED

On Sunday 13th February Andrew Marr interviewed the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu

Please note, the charity Centrepoint has asked us to clarify that it will not be 'closing its doors', as was stated by Dr Sentamu during this interview. Centrepoint is "continuing to support homeless young people".

ANDREW MARR:

It's exactly two years since Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the MDC and its leader Morgan Changarai joined a power sharing government with President Robert Mugabe. It brought some stability and economic improvement, but political violence and intimidation still go on. Now you might remember how the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, rather dramatically cut up his dog collar in protest right here in our studio, and he's vowed not to put it back on again until Mugabe leaves the stage and full democracy is restored to Zimbabwe. Well Dr Sentamu, dog-collarless, is back with me. Welcome Archbishop.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR:

Good morning. We've been all engrossed by what's been going on in Egypt. Do you think there's any chance that the sort of democracy wave might start to rumble further down through Africa?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Well I hope it will, but in terms of Zimbabwe I think that's more difficult simply because a lot of people are refugees in South Africa, huge numbers, and he's actually what he calls "softened" the people by the brutality of the regime. So I don't think that … You know it really feels like a broken nation in heart and mind, so I can't see the same thing which happened in Tahrir Square happening in Zimbabwe, no.

ANDREW MARR:

No, no. And Mugabe is now talking about another election coming shortly …

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yeah.

ANDREW MARR:

… and there is an atmosphere, one reads, of growing intimidation again.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

(over) Oh yes, it is.

ANDREW MARR:

Are you worried?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

I'm very worried. But you see there's going to be an agreed new Constitution that's going to be put in place because that's part of the power sharing, and SADC has got to actually work hard to make sure that all those promises are carried out …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) This is the South African Development …

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Development Group … go to work. And particularly President Zuma has actually got to assist people, so that if there is an election and it takes place, you probably need some observers for nearly six months before the election and then six months afterwards because the brutality will just increase.

ANDREW MARR:

We're going to be hearing at the end of the programme a wonderful choir from Harare who are fantastic. I think you've heard them already.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yes.

ANDREW MARR:

But it's difficult to keep people focused on something like Zimbabwe when it's such a long-running, sort of slow crisis as it were. There hasn't been that explosive moment when Mugabe goes and it looks like it may not happen.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

I think he will go. I mean I want to get my dog collar back. (laughs) I think he will definitely go. But you're absolutely right because it is so slow, almost like watching a slow death which takes a very, very long time, and you say to yourself is it today, is it tomorrow, does it happen? But I'm sure it will actually happen, Mugabe will definitely go. But what he is going to leave behind is a legacy of a country that has been pillaged now that new diamonds have been discovered.

ANDREW MARR:

Yes.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

He is trying to help himself, the army and the police.

ANDREW MARR:

It's a terrible thing for a country when they discover diamonds or gold.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yeah, terrible. Same with oil. It all just goes through some very strange places. But I'm absolutely certain the people of Zimbabwe will get their country back.

ANDREW MARR:

Can I ask about matters nearer to home?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yes.

ANDREW MARR:

You famously said of the 'big society', the church has been doing the big society for a couple of thousand years now.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yes, yes.

ANDREW MARR:

But are you concerned about the level of cuts that have to be imposed or are being imposed and the speed of it and its effect on voluntary organisations and the third sector, whatever we call it?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

I mean I think everybody has got to be concerned and I don't think that Kenneth Clarke was just speaking out of turn; that once these cuts begin to come, they will be very deep and they'll cause quite a lot of difficulty. I mean for example the building programme of restoring some terrible houses in Liverpool, which was a fifteen year programme, has now been halted, so it means people are still going to live in squalor. And those voluntary groups that depend - for example Centrepoint, which is Prince William's charity for taking in people that are homeless and doing work - is you know going to close its doors. So there are many, many other areas of real concern. And the big society, if it is right, has got to build capacity and investment has got to go into it. You just can't simply say we're going to have a wonderful volunteering group of people doing this. And for me, actually we need a body of principle which will allow us to motivate us and to judge us properly. And for me they are this, very very quickly - that every man and woman are made in God's image and each is of equal worth. And society is definitely built around to be both enterprising and creative, but also allowing an individual to flourish. And then fourthly the purpose of work is not just making money as an end in itself, but to build cohesion in society, loving one another. And then probably finally that really in the end we are to build relationships with God and with each other, and that requires a lot of effort.

ANDREW MARR:

Why do you think in this country we have been so slow and so poor perhaps on the voluntary side and actually you know the big society, something everybody says that they're in favour of, and yet we're not very good at it?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

I mean I suspect one of the beauty of the welfare state was to make sure that nobody actually falls between two stools. It had a fantastic safety net. What should have actually happened, hand in hand with that - people who are being helped should have also been told, put something back in society, and the volunteering would have actually happened more easily. But now as we're going through all this great difficulty of economic downturn and the recession is still I don't think gone, the banks are still not lending, they're still very wobbly and everything is still very wobbly - while it is happening, may we all please, people in Britain, we're in this together and let us try and help one another.

ANDREW MARR:

Because it doesn't feel like we're all in it together to a lot of people who'll read all these bonuses out next week.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Yes, yes.

ANDREW MARR:

Vince Cable said that they were "inappropriately large". Would you go further than that?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

I mean I would say they're obscene. They are not just … Remember some of these banks were bailed out by the taxpayer. They still owe the taxpayer a lot of money and these bonuses are happening. For heaven's sake, the government ought to do something more tougher about it than simply say well we don't want to overtax taxes. You know one of the things which …

ANDREW MARR:

Do you think they just lack guts a bit?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Well I think they need a bit more guts. The trouble we've got is this unbelievable self-belief that if you tax people more, they will leave this country and go somewhere else. Just like we had a cry when the minimum wage came in. People said, "Oh once minimum wage comes in, people will take …" They never did! So somebody has got to have a little bit of conviction that these banks can't simply luxuriate themselves on the backs of the poor and other people while the rest of us are having a tough time.

ANDREW MARR:

Archbishop, for now thank you very much indeed. I hope we'll see you a little later on in in the programme, but for now thank you very much indeed.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:

Thank you, thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS

Andrew Marr also asked the Archbishop of York about reports that the government wants to allow civil partnership ceremonies to take place in churches, and other religious buildings:

ARCHBISHOP SENTAMU:

Well I was in the House of Lords when the Human Rights Act was being debated, and at the end Lord Hardy actually moved an amendment which gave permission to those organisational churches that wanted to bless civil partnerships. At the end there were the Quakers, the you know …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So is this an area where actually the government should allow institutions like churches to be able to do this but shouldn't be telling them what to do?

ARCHBISHOP SENTAMU:

Well I think one thing … I think the amendment itself does not to that. It simply talks about churches, not the individual bits and pieces. And I, who believes in a liberal democracy and actually want equality with everybody, cannot say the Quakers shouldn't do it. Nor do I want somebody to tell me but the Church of England must do it, but the Roman Catholic Church must do it because actually that's not what equality is about. You mustn't have rights that trump other rights.




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