Monday, 15 September 2008


Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting comments on the myriad leadership changes that have gone on of late, and wonders if Tory Leader Annabel Goldie is next.

For what it's worth, I'd say no, but the post does raise some interesting questions on leadership in modern Scottish politics.

As a former squaddie, I like and admire strong leadership. I admire a leader that can keep a group of people together, and make them relevant, ambitious and forward thinking, often in the face of adversity (whether in politics or not). It takes a personal touch that many people lack. Some people are natural leaders, others can be taught leadership skills to various degrees and some will always prefer to follow rather than lead, and this in itself is an important role.

Among the vast majority of people in Scotland, these political leadership contests have not raised any interest at all and this may be a reflection on Scottish politics today. When recent contests have been announced, commentators have struggled to identify a natural successor with very few standing out from the crowd, twenty or thirty years ago, I doubt this would have been the case.

Perhaps the media has played a role in dumbing down open party debate on policy or direction that we used to see, as an example, in Thatchers day. Anyone who sticks their head above the parapet with a different view on their party policy can expect to have it proverbially shot off very quickly, with the media (and other parties) seizing on it as some kind of major split.

History is littered with strong, remarkable leaders who are invariably strong orators too. In the past few years, passionate debate has too often been sacrificed at the altar of anodyne and pedestrian contribution or meaningless, snappy soundbites.

We rarely see the kind of leadership skills that single out an individual from the crowd. As an example, perhaps reports of some school sports days ditching competitive sports so that no one feels left out have contributed to this. One university I know of marks students exam results as 'A' for achieved or 'NA' for not achieved so that no one can be upset at having failed.

I'd like to see people who display natural leadership skills encouraged, whatever career they choose. We will all (including non leader types like me) benefit from it.


Fox In Detox said...

Well it's too bad that you don't live here in the US...where we are inundated with strong leaders who keep groups of people together, make them relevant, ambitious, and forward thinking... (I almost couldn't get that last part out without busting a gut.)

Jim said...

John McCain seems like a good guy, Fox?

(bearing in mind I know nothing about US politics!)

Fox In Detox said...

Yea, he's awesome. He's just like George Bush! And his running mate?...she's the best thing since sliced bread!

(Please note the dripping sarcasm)

In the US, the only thing we can do is figure out which one is the lesser of two evils, and hopefully vote for the one who will do the least amount of damage. It's sad really.

Jim said...

I think that's the same in politics the world over.

You might be surprised at just how much coverage the American election gets over here in the UK though.