Monday, 26 September 2011
What is a 'strong leader'?
Now that the Labour party conference is underway we keep hearing about Ed Milliband's leadership qualities - as if this was all that mattered as far as Labour is concerned. Is Ed a strong leader? We hear that question repeatedly asked by the media. It seems that it has now become axiomatic that 'leadership' is the most important thing about any political party. After all, if you don't like the leader of a party how could you possibly vote for that party? And nobody could like a leader who isn't 'strong' could they?
Of course in a media age its important that party leaders are media savvy. They are bound to be in the spotlight. But isn't there something else going on here? What matters about a party is its policies and what it intends to do in government - that is the bottom line. So why the media obsession with 'strong' leaders which, over the past 30 years or so, has created a presidential style of government in the UK? Could it be that what the capitalist media really want is 'strong' leaders who are actually weak, who they can exert pressure on to act against the wishes of other ministers, MPs and the party membership, thus making it easier for the media to set the political agenda in their owners interests?
I don't want 'strong' leadership. Hitler and Stalin were 'strong' leaders. I believe the benefits of 'strong' leadership, and leadership in general, are greatly exaggerated. I would question whether we need leadership at all. But given the current set up, what I want is leaders who are team players, and listen, and respond to the party membership. I want a good party team elected into government. A team who work together and are are going to do their damnedest to implement policies which have been democratically decided upon at a party conference, whether the Daily Mail likes it or not.