The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Two concepts of leadership
by Peter

As I did not attend the hustings yesterday, I have been greedily reading the opinions of those who did.

The general view seems to be that Huhne was rather heavy and humourless, and that Oaten was rather light. People seem to think that Campbell or Hughes had the better content. Views differ radically on how well they spoke.

John Hemming has the text of Ming's speech. As usual with Ming, it has some good soundbites (I particularly like "Our liberalism is not a struggle between those who wish to modernise and
those who do not. To be a Liberal Democrat is to be a moderniser. What were
Lloyd George, Beveridge and Grimond but modernisers?"). This ability to say something memorable will count for Ming - they will get him the press coverage he needs.

How did he say it?

James Graham thinks

Ming: good content, below par delivery.

Richard on Militant Moderate has a similar point of view
The second half saved Menzies, because he started out very poorly, probably because of the sound problems with his mike

Yet Edis Bevan sees it very differently

The revelation was Campbell. Ming was alive in every word of his speech, clear emotion backing up every position. I have never seen him like this before. Forget the careful buttoned down image of TV shorts interviews. Ming looked unchained, full of energy.

For Hughes the consensus is that it was a good stylish speech. But then everyone says they expected this. James Graham says:

Simon: if I didn’t have strong reservations about Simon’s positioning and his chaotic and autocratic style which I observed first hand while we were both on the Federal Executive, this speech would have really tempted me.

Edis says
Simon Hughes – well it was a Simon Hughes speech which means good and he knows exactly what to say to rally a LibDem audience.

And Richard has
Simon Hughes: Without a doubt, the most stylish performance... but he is already established as the slick and charming candidate. What we didn't see was any evidence of heavy-weight policy. A great showman, who will be in the final two, I am sure, but could, on this performance, once again be pipped to the post.

My view on Simon was that we all knew that if being Leader was just a matter of making speeches, then he would walk it. But it isn't.

Stephen Glenn has come up with a nice piece of textual analysis - from which I arrive at the opposite conclusion.

Here's Simon

The easiest thing for me to do now would be to run through all the policies I support, trying to mention everything that might appeal to every section of the party. But that isn’t what this leadership contest should be about. Because in our party, it’s not the leader that makes the policy, it’s the members – and I am determined that my leadership will be as consultative and participative as this process has been.

And here's Ming
I believe in leading not following; setting goals and objectives; shaping events not being shaped by them; taking responsibility and discharging it; being both candid and confident; neither dictatorial nor prescriptive, but consultative and committed.

Stephen is happy with Simon's formulation. Many will be. But I see it as a declaration that he intends to be a Chairman rather than a Leader. Ming's is an advocacy of Leadership.

Without wishing to be too Hegelian about it, I believe that parties like our own, which preach decentralisation, and involvement need strong leadership. Of course we should have particpation and debate, but we also need leadership. Princes to build the city, republics to defend it as some Italian had it.

The most thoughtful take on the election in the Sunday papers seems to be Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 10:33 am  
  • At 15 January, 2006 15:52, Blogger MatGB said…

    On leadership, much inclined to agree; there is a difference between taking charge and being prescriptive (as Cameron is doing) and giving direction and focus, ensuring that momentum is maintained and a sense of direction and purpose is self evident.

    That, essentially, was what was wrong with Charles; all I got was a sense of drift.

    Gong more and more off Hughes the more I here about him, it's between Huhne and Campbell for me now, unless Hughes pulls out an exceptional rabbit.

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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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