This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Ed Miliband is a great political leader

There has been much talk in the last few days about a 'crisis' overtaking Ed Miliband's leadership of the Labour Party and his prospects of becoming the next PM. I am not going to use this blog to list all the policy reasons why I sincerely hope that Ed will be this country's next Prime Minister. Nor indeed am I going to bother you with all the ways in which the media are seeking to undermine him. You can find all this stuff out for yourself. (Try following #WeBackEd hashtag on twitter for a start, which has been trending for the last couple of days now.)

Instead I want to spend some time looking at political leadership. Speaking for myself (I am not seeking to pretend this is some kind of objective academic list, even though I have I specialised in leadership, organisational transformation & social change for most of my career), I would say that great political leaders:
  • Provide hope 
  • Provide direction
  • Provide the ways by which all people can dream and realise those ambitions
  • Lead from the front but also...
  • Know when to step back and empower others
  • Provide evidence of their empathy & understanding
  • Make principled stands against powerful interests
  • Are unfailingly courteous, treating everyone with great respect
  • Listen twice as much as they talk
  • Risk unpopularity when pursuing what is right
  • Pay particular attention to those whose voices are quiet and often not heard
  • Know that glossy charisma is no substitute for deep integrity
  • Aim to become more like themselves
  • React to events but not be overwhelmed by them
  • Make people laugh and smile
  • Help people who don't, feel good about themselves
  • Make the political weather...

I could go on. 

Very few, if any, political leaders tick all these boxes. And even if they do, being in power, sometimes means a few boxes get 'un-ticked', as it were.

In my opinion, Ed is ticking the vast majority of these boxes at the moment. Therefore in my book he is a great political leader. But leadership is in the eyes in the beholder: it is a status earned not claimed. In part (since Ed is only part of the political package on offer), all this will be tested next May. 

I think the omens are still that not only will the existing PM and coalition government lose the next general election, but Ed and the Labour Party will win it too. 

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