Pointy bishop hats for everyone! Photo: Getty
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I'm a big Jesus fan! Make me the first lesbian bishop, Church of England

All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom

Yay for the Church of England, I suppose. The slightly liberal parents of the Christian world (the kind who might let you stay up to watch something on the telly that contains adult situations) have just granted women the right to wear big, pointy hats.

From my entirely non-Christian perspective, the issue of female bishops in the C of E has, for aeons, been going a bit like this:

General Synod: “I don’t know… God gets really smitey when we let women do stuff.”

Desmond Tutu (the voice of reason): “Let women be bishops. Also, let people be gay and stuff.”

General Synod: “No.”

As of this week though, a consensus has finally been reached within the Church that bishops can and will have vaginas. Meanwhile, in another longstanding dispute over modernisation, the Archbishop of Canterbury “continues to struggle” with the idea of gay marriage. As it stands, the C of E still officially defines marriage as something between a man and a woman. PR-wise, it occurs to me that the self-identified Church of liberalism, puppies and rainbows should move forward on this issue pretty sharpish. And if they’d like to align themselves with The Gays in one decisive action, I suggest that they make me, Eleanor M Margolis (BA), the first ever lesbian bishop.

Since I’m also Jewish, this move would give the Church double “look how chill we are” points. All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom. Oh, I’m also agnostic.

So what, you may well ask, are my credentials? For starters, I’m a big Jesus fan. I went to primary school before teaching from the Bible became unfashionable in state education. As a strong believer in the separation of church and state, I’m not saying it’s a shame that this practice is dying out. On the other hand, I remember hearing Bible stories about Jesus helping the poor and generally being a sweet, beardy socialist and thinking he seemed cool. This is something that’s stuck with me, and I often find myself quoting Jesus at right wing Christians, while wondering how it’s even possible to be right wing and Christian, when Jesus was such an obvious lefty.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.” – John 34:35. If you take issue with that, you’re a dick.

Aside from being a Jesus freak, I’m excellent at moving diagonally across chequered floors. You should see me – I swoop. And while I struggle to see how religion isn’t messing up the world in countless ways (I’m a non-practising Jew, by the way) a big part of me is desperate for it to be used as a force for good.

So, General Synod (who I’ve probably grossly offended) hear me out. I suspect that the kind of women you have in mind for bishopdom are, you know, massive Christians. But was Jesus Christian? Make this Sapphic Semite a bishop and kill two doves with one stone. Except don’t actually kill them, because that would be a bit violent for the C of E. Wing them, maybe.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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