There are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of books on Leadership, and a google search of the word will come up with some 121,000,000 entries on the web. It might be silly therefore to argue about what makes a good leader or mock someone for their lack of leadership qualities, when there are so many different definitions. You can get Phd's on the subject apparently and still not know what it is.
There is probably an idiot's guide to leadership suitable for everyone. Just about any self-deluded soul can find the guidance to say that they have exactly what it takes to be a good leader. Even Gordon Brown, one of the most unpopular leaders this country has had since, say, Tony Blair, no doubt has some pamphlet by his bedside from a guru or somesuch who lets him think he has the Right Stuff, if only one written by one of the sychophants and chancers who make up and support the modern Labour Party. (With some honourable exceptions, such as Frank Field MP, who once said of Gordon that his "premiership is inept and the party standing is pitiful.")
So in criticising someone's Leadership skills and potential, I think it is good to stay away from the big sweeping vision stuff which people legitimately argue about. Nor am I going to go on in this post about style, charisma or looks or about what it is the leader wants people to follow them to do (though it is important that it makes sense, will benefit the public and can stand up to the competition of ideas which are at the heart of democracy). Instead I think it best to concentrate on something more basic.
At a very fundamental level, leadership involves making it possible for people to follow, no matter what it is being asked of people. For instance, a leader must have basic skills of organisation and communication. A real leader needs to be able to clearly tell people where and when they want them to be in order to do what they want to ask them to do.
'Let's all meet up over there and save the world/tell each other how fine we are/decide what to do'
It's pretty basic stuff, as important as telling people what they will be doing if they decided to follow the great leader. Now, astute readers of my blog will be wondering what all this is leading up to. An analysis of the leadership abilities of Anjem Choudary maybe? He is the over media savvy man who told his followers to demonstrate in Westminster against the evil forces of the oppressive British state and non-Shariah legal system last Saturday and then meekly followed the police's advice that such a demonstration might not be a such good idea and they would be safer playing their silly games elsewhere. (A rational decision by the way, and one that suggests that the guy is not so loony as he appears - he is clearly capable of taking advice from someone other than his nutty supporters).
No. Sadly for the people of Walthamstow, whose hopes may come to rest on her as their Member of Parliament, it is Stella Creasy I find myself discussing. She is a professional spin doctor who until recently made her living trying to convince children and the world that her boss, Bear Gryllis, AKA Chief Scout was not a fraudulent show-off but rather a 'role model' and wonderous example of where it gets you if you would only 'be prepared' to join the scouts.
Stella Creasy is also an aspirant to replace the honest Neil Gerrard as MP for Walthamstow. As such she spends far less time than you would think communicating directly with ordinary locals but instead seems to rattle around in an echo chamber of her own tiny clique of surviving Labour supporters, she sometimes also tries to campaign via her website. This shows her as a champion of the cause of bats and the EMD Cinema. Unfortunately for the many local families affected she chose these causes over a lot of other more important issues. These include the disproportionately high numbers of local unemployed people or the local businesses, groups suffering as a result of Gordon Brown's recession.
However, she has now decided to meet the public and 'take on' the BNP, despite the poll evidence that their influence locally is negligable. This is an opportunity, after all to show what a Great Leader she is and follow up on the recent leaflet drops her party has been conducting locally. I shall quote her in full. This is not just because as an opponent of the BNP and all it stands for, I do not wish people to think in any way that I might not agree with her sentiments on this topic. Even if I think her way of tackling the extremists is a tad feeble (will they will not sleep soundly knowing she is eschewing the internet to personally set up a street stall?) I think I should be fair and let people know what she is actually saying to them. I would do this for her challengers, the LibDems, Independents like Paul Warburton, the Greens or even the Tories if they could be bothered to do any real politicking locally:
"Lest We Forget: Tackling the BNP through Hope Not Hate
By Stella Creasy on November 3, 2009 10:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
I'm organising a street stall on Saturday 7th November to tackle the threat the BNP pose to our society.
I recognise that there are many differing and complex reasons why people consider supporting the BNP. I feel it is beholden on all of us who are involved in mainstream politics to accept responsibility for addressing this and play our part in tackling them. I'm proud to live in a part of Britain that benefits from being so diverse. I don't want to see these people claim to speak for my country.
On the 7th, we'll be holding a leafleting session to gather support for action being taken by Hope not Hate. Organisations like Hope not Hate, and Unite Against Facism, are taking on the BNP and the politics of hate and fear that they stand for. They're bringing people together from a wide variety of backgrounds to say that this vile party has no place in modern Britain. If you feel the same, please come to this stall on Saturday between 11am and 2pm to take some leaflets to deliver to your neighbours. Together we can spread the message about what we can all do to help the fight against the BNP, both here in London and across England. Please email if you would also be able to help with staffing this stall during the day itself."
So why bring up the issue of leadership and question Stella's abilities? Simple. She doesn't say where the stall is going to be she wants people to meet her at. All it says is there will be 'this stall' and it will be at 'the street'. Doesn't she have any colleagues in her team who can proof-read?
I suspect she has many great qualities and no doubt would prove good at talking the Chief Scout up into a fine upstanding citizen, but where the demonstration of simple organisational skills and communicating the basics is concerned, all I can say is that for very basic reasons, Stella Creasy is currently falling short.
[Updated 14 April 2010]