Monday, 11 July 2016

A Leader – of whom?

If I had a pound for every time leader or leadership has been mentioned in the last couple of weeks I would be rich.

I used to be Chief Executive of a medical research charity with over 50 staff and several hundred volunteers around the country. Imagine a situation where, for some reason (or more than one) over half my senior management team had stepped down because they didn’t have confidence in my running of the organisation. Additionally the majority of the staff doubted my leadership and suggested that I leave – but – all the volunteers thought I was wonderful. This is a ridiculous and untenable situation – there would be no way I could stay in post.

I know that many of my readers live abroad so will set out the background.

The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party, took a gamble on a referendum and lost.  He immediately resigned – however foolhardy his behaviour may or may not have been in calling the referendum, that was the correct thing to do.

This triggered a leadership contest, which followed strict rules – a vote amongst MPs, bottom one drops out, another vote and so on until there are only two left.  Those two were Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. Today, Leadsom has withdrawn leaving Theresa May as the Leader and therefore Prime Minister. Leadsom only had the support of a quarter of Conservative Members of Parliament and felt that even if the members of the Party around the country had supported her she would not have sufficient support within the House of Commons.  I won’t go into the debacle of her press interview over the weekend and the poor handling of it, etc.

The reality check was that she was self aware enough to know that she wasn’t going to make it – let’s see in a few years’ time. So that’s the Conservative Party done.  Theresa May goes off to the Palace to see the Queen on Wednesday and moves into Number 10 Downing Street. Done by the book, following the rules and efficient (and no doubt some covert behind the scenes action). Leadsom also put the party before her own ambition – the leadership contest would have dragged on for nine weeks, very destabilising for the country.

The Labour Party is something else (in more ways than one). Their Leader was elected by the party membership with an overwhelming majority last year. He has failed to lead his party, to mount a successful Opposition to the Government and despite 172 MPs voting to support a vote of no confidence with only 40 against, repeats his mantra that he has a mandate from the members of the Party who are apparently signing up by the tens of thousands.  

Over half his Shadow Cabinet resigned and he has had to bring in inexperienced MPs, some to hold two briefs in order to act as the Opposition. Many people have asked him to step aside, he has refused and even though there is now a formal challenge, he no doubt will receive a mandate again from the party members who seem, as does he, keener on ideological campaigning than winning an election.  If you feel so strongly about bringing about change – you need to be in government – how is that so difficult to understand?

I find it depressing beyond belief – even if I were a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, every Government needs challenge and this is not going to happen in any efficient way.

This brings me back to the beginning of this blog – it can’t work in a charity, even less in a business – unless you have the confidence of your colleagues you cannot go on.  They don’t have to like you but do have to think you are up to the job.

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