What Sort of Political Leadership Do We Want?

By McLennan, Neil | The Scotsman, June 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

What Sort of Political Leadership Do We Want?


McLennan, Neil, The Scotsman


P re-election media attention always focusses on that much used word leadership. A number of post-election discussions are now open: May's leadership scrutinised, 'Corbyn bounce' entering popular memory for some and a focus on Sturgeon's leadership of any IndyRef2.

However, politics aside, what leadership lessons can be drawn from it all? 'Strong and stable' was much bandied about before the election. This offers something telling about the British system. The system, and it seems our needs, demand outright winners.

There is something closely aligned in our psyche about politics and command and control styles and approaches. We have an obsession with the largest party in our electoral system and the strong and steep hierarchy where the leader is central.

Meanwhile, European parliaments have shown that coalitions can form and work. The Scottish parliament has been based on such a model, albeit majority rule currently sits within Holyrood. One might do a further analysis of the Westminster system, whereby even the hall in which parliamentary business takes place lends itself to a conflict style of jousting and red lines remain on carpets to keep swords from meeting.

The history books might suggest that, out of that system, 'strong and stable' came best when one party's period of government was followed by another from the opposition. However, one might point out that, even during those periods, a right-leaning ratchet effect has taken place, especially in recent times, the 'age of extremes' perhaps seeing an overall winner in the longitudinal tug of war. …

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