Author Archives: Matthew Gibson

Opinion: What is leadership and how to choose the next leader

With a leadership contest now underway we may want to ask ourselves what it is that we are looking for in a leader for us to be able to decide who to vote for. We cannot underestimate how important the next leader is for the development of the party and the defence and promotion of liberal values.

We may have all joined the party at different times for different reasons but there are many things which bind us as a social group – we all have a common identity as members of the party. This identity is crucial for both ourselves (as commitment to the identity leads to greater involvement in the party and rejection of the identity means people leave) and others (if non-members identify with it they may vote for or even join the party while if they do not they will reject or even ridicule us). Our next leader is inherently linked to our shared identity and for them – and therefore us – to be successful they would do well to follow these principles as set out by Alexander Haslem, an Australian professor in psychology:

Leaders are one of ‘us’: To lead us, leaders must represent us

We must listen carefully to what and how they say things to decide if they represent one of us. It is easy to know if they are not. Miliband talked about the ordinary working people making a distinction between us and them (or more precisely him and them). He did not say ‘we’ work hard and ‘we’ are struggling. That was the other people – the country – which he wanted to help out. He was not ‘one of us’. Great leaders talk about ‘we’ because they are ‘of the people’ as much as they are ‘for the people’. We should look for someone who clearly shows they are one of us.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 20 Comments
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