Local Political Leadership

Local Political Leadership

Local Political Leadership

Local Political Leadership


Local political leadership examines the complexities of the concept of leadership, focusing on the intrinsic tension between leadership behaviour and leadership position. It also discusses the key leadership tasks, such as maintaining cohesiveness, developing strategic policy direction, and external relations and task accomplishment.


The nature of local political leadership in Britain is likely to be transformed over the next few years by the introduction of ‘elected mayors’ and ‘cabinet government’ into local authorities. Although there is a good deal of resistance to change, it is now widely acknowledged that change is on the way. But this will inevitably be strongly influenced by current views within local authorities about political leadership and the relationship between leadership and party groups. Though the nature of political leadership will change, the strength of existing political culture is certain to influence the way in which the new structures are developed and integrated.

In these circumstances a book on local political leadership is timely. There has been no text that provides an overview of local political leadership in Britain since the book edited by George Jones and Alan Norton in 1978. There have, however, since that date been many changes in local politics that have impinged upon local political leadership. the aim therefore is to provide both a comprehensive picture of the current situation and an informed analysis of the likely impact of the government’s legislative programme for the political management of local authorities.

We would like to acknowledge our indebtedness to a number of people who have helped us in the preparation of this book. First, we are grateful to all the local political leaders who were prepared to be interviewed by one or both of us in the various research projects that have been drawn upon in this book. in particular, we acknowledge the time and help willingly provided by Sir Peter Soulsby, to whose leadership career in Leicester the whole of Chapter Seven is devoted. Various academic colleagues have influenced our thinking, in particular John Stewart, Chris Game and Peter John. We are indebted to Melvin Wingfield for allowing us to use some of his interview material about Rutland in Chapter Eight. Thanks go to Dawn Louise Rushen at the Policy Press for her efficient and approachable management of the publisher–author interface. We are also grateful for the constructive comments of the two anonymous academic referees used by the publisher. Last but by no means least, we acknowledge the space and support provided by our respective families, Karen and Callum, and Sue, Chris, Andrew and Jamie, without which this project could never have come to fruition.

Steve Leach and David Wilson

De Montfort University, Leicester

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