Lost Leaders. Get me outta here!

I had hoped that Theresa May would be a “good” Prime Minister – she used to be my MP so have met her on a few occasions. But she fell under the same spell as her predecessor David Cameron, she did not listen to the voters, she gambled and lost. She said;

the Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the rich and powerful, but by the interests of ordinary, working class people

Yet she never followed through, never put forward a strategy for achieving this, she had many chances to do this, but nothing. The party manifesto was bland and the Conservatives rightly lost their majority. She had her chance, move on, she did not deliver on her promises.

Jeremy Corbyn surprised us all by not being blown to oblivion at the 2017 election but he stepped up with confidence. When he was elected leader he said things would change, and in the election he said “for the many not the few”. But there were still no real recommendations to achieve that, just piecemeal proposals that paper over the cracks. Plus, the Labour Party is not united and is in danger of being sucked into a ideological black hole to the detriment of the country. It does not have a clear strategy to tackle the urgent problems.

There is a ray of hope now as there is now a grown-up in the room in the form of Vince Cable. He is an experienced politician, a professional economist and former government minister, plus he wants to see an “Exit from Brexit”. Voters are disillusioned with the two establishment parties, so the Liberal Democrats have incredible opportunity to step up and lead, to be the new fresh party with the best ideas, the true radical centre. This means having a tight group of interlinked policies that will actually make peoples lives better, reduce extreme economic inequality, end the unnecessary financial hardship suffered by millions everyday and move us towards social justice.

There is a good three-point formula for effective leadership, which I refer to in my book “From Here To Prosperity”, but owe the ideas to Gavin Esler, the former BBC political commentator and interviewer of many world leaders, who said;

You cannot be a leader unless you have followers and you cannot have followers unless you communicate with them, leaders have been telling stories ever since Jesus.

He notes three particular “stories that any successful leader needs to tell” These are:

a. Who am I? upbringing, experience, so that followers relate to you
b. Who are we? values, what we stand for, together as a party
c. Where is my leadership going to take us: vision, strategy, policy platform, so feel hope, optimism and are engaged

Whether you are the leader of a party, a council, a business, organization or team, it is worth noting these points. We have to ensure that the Liberal Democrat message comes over loud and clear, to convince the electorate to reject these lost leaders and get behind Vince and his highly experienced leadership team who can lead us out of this jungle!

* om Burgess is Executive Director of the Progressive Policy Unit, a political advocacy group. He is the author of From Here to Prosperity, a practical policy agenda for a sustainable economy and greater social justice. Formerly CEO of an international communications firm, he has also worked as a journalist, editor, and lecturer as well in health service management. Tom Burgess is a long time political activist, a former full time student leader and founding member of the Social Democratic Party, editor of a political newspaper and has twice stood for public office.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Tony Dawson 4th Dec '17 - 7:29pm

    Either Ant or Dec would make a better Prime Minister. As, indeed, would virtually anyone plucked from your average bus queue. 🙁

  • This is a strange article. Members should not think that Vince is the answer. We should reject the idea of the cult of a leader.

    As far as I know Vince does not support a return to full employment – the only long term successful policy to reduce economic inequalities.

    I am not aware of Vince supporting the target of £9 per hour in 2020 for the National Living Wage.

    I am not aware of Vince calling for the restoration of the benefit cuts he supported when in government nor do the Liberal Democrats.

    It has been reported today that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has discovered that since 2013 300,000 extra pensioners and 400,000 extra children are living in relative poverty.

    To not live in relative poverty a single person needs more than £144 a week, a couple needs £248 and a couple with two children needs £401. So Liberal Democrat policy should be to increase Job Seekers Allowance for a single person to £144 a week (from £73.10), for a couple to £248 (from £114.85) for a couple with two children to £401 (I think it is currently Jobseekers Allowance £114.85, Child Tax Credit for 2 children £117.40, Child Benefit for 2 children £34.40 totally £266.65). If benefits should be 60% of median earning then the National Living Wage has to be more, perhaps 70% which I calculate as £10.50 per hour.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Dec '17 - 3:43am


    Your didactic style, and detailed content, which , in it’s application to my article, drove me nearly potty, as it felt my content was ignored, due to your emphasis on style, well, I must say, it does us well here, all of us.

    If your figures are correct, please understand, that a reason you did drive me thus, on a discussion, such as it was, is that, I am clearly in relative poverty , and it feels it ! I do not want to return to that disagreement, as the title said, it was too personal a subject. But I support your views and effort here.

    My situation at the bank is not , as I explained, due to my not presenting things , properly, or otherwise, but their refusal to even consider me for any loan, for any venture, however vital or vibrant, because , wait for it, I have an agreed overdraft , with them ! I barely scratched the surface in the article before, I have, in telephone calls to them , at great length communicated to them the aspects of their policy and practice that are absurd, to be told, they more or less agree, but machines and matrix alike make decisions !! I have a potential leading director of west end and broadway interested in my project, with a theatre considered if I can move the show to the next stage of development, but cannot get my hands on five hundred quid let alone five thousand ! My credit score , low, because, as , again, explained, we lost our house, and I rent, all mentioned in those circumstances I shared in the article.

    You raise important points, if Sir Vince does not support the living wage, he is living in cloud cuckoo land ! I do not believe he is radical enough , nor able to see the way things, now need ,more radicalism and, also, too, moderation. In my field of endeavour I have ideas I shall pursue, as I do not think politics or parties has a clue about it. As for Sir Vince , we cannot yet say. He has fine attributes , I back him, but his reputation from the coalition, makes the welcome comments from Tom here, yet to be seen ,to be anything ,to be sure of.

    We must have an answer on the living wage and his views. Answers …on a…post…ing…?

  • Laurence Cox 5th Dec '17 - 11:12am

    @Michael BG

    If you really want to take people out of relative poverty, you need to espouse Basic Income which would replace existing benefits, not fiddle around the edges by increasing JSA and child tax credit. None of what you propose does anything for pensioner poverty. Of course, it means higher taxes for all and that is what we have to sell to the voters.

    See my review of “The Joy of Tax” here on LDV: https://www.libdemvoice.org/review-of-the-joy-of-tax-by-richard-murphy-53361.html#comment-431938

  • @ Laurence Cox

    My initial reaction is that to set the Basic Income at £144 or even £124 (half of £248) would be expensive. However, it seems you agree as you linked to your February comments:

    “…and while I am unconvinced that the taxation consequences of Basic Income at the level he proposes can ever be sold to the voters …”

    “Murphy’s proposal (with Howard Reed) is for a £192/week basic income.”

    I support the introduction of a Basic Income and maybe I will try to get an article published on it here before Christmas, once the one I have already submitted has been published. I am not a great supporter of replacing all existing benefits with a basic income because not everyone receives the same amount at present as it has been decided that some groups need more than others, such as the disabled and those with long term health conditions. I think a Basic Income is a liberal policy as it increases liberty, freedom and choice.

    @ Lorenzo Cherin

    Thank you for the compliment and for explaining in further detail the reasons you couldn’t get bank investment. (In the past I think decisions on loans were made more rationally and flexibly than with as you say the current system of “machines and matrix” and credit scores. Perhaps there has been an increase in lots of areas of not being as flexible as in the past with more control from the centre.) It is sometimes hard to always take into consideration that people are different – you are poetic and I concentrate on facts and details. The figures I quoted for the amounts needed to have each week to not be living in relative poverty are from the BBC news article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42218682.

  • Sue Sutherland 5th Dec '17 - 1:15pm

    Teresa May said a lot of nice things but I’m afraid I was quite cynical because I suspected with the Tories’ housing policy it would be about people not being able to buy a home rather than the overwhelming need for social housing to rent. I can’t see that she’s done much for the increasing number of the empoverished.
    Lorenzo’s story rings so many bells for me because many businesses failed to get the support they needed when we were in various recessions and so they went to the wall. Instead they were taking risks with mortgage lending and we know how that worked out.
    I would like Vince to think seriously about nationalising the banks if we ever come into power so they would invest in projects the government thinks are important rather than closing down firms when they are in difficulties which are due to outside influences. I’m sure there are many Lib Dem’s who would throw up their hands in horror at this idea but I’m not an economist so have no idea of the ramifications if this were put into practice.

  • Laurence Cox 5th Dec '17 - 1:44pm

    @Michael BG

    My view is that we cannot afford a Basic Income at a level that allows people to live above the poverty line without working at all; what we can do is to introduce a Basic Income that allows those who are capable of working to live above the poverty line without having to work full-time and to provide them with a safety-net for periods of unemployment. This means that we still need some benefits for those who cannot work at all, for children, and to cover housing costs because the last varies by so much across the country. This is the range that the CIT and Green Party proposals are in.

    The Social Liberal Forum’s Chair, Helen Flynn, is currently leading a small group looking at Basic Income with the aim of bringing a motion on it to Party Conference.

  • Tory MP Heidi Allen in tears during universal credit debate – BBC News
    Video for heidi allen in tears▶ 2:08
    2 hours ago
    Conservative MP Heidi Allen was in tears after Labour’s Frank Field’s speech.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Dec '17 - 7:38pm


    Terrific comments . See my recent message to you.

    The policy suggestion is a very intriguing one. A national ,bank, rather than, all , nationalised banks, is a good idea. You couldn’t do many in my and many people’s view, for then, like the domino effect or actual house of cards, that was the recent crash in the downturn we experience yet, the travails of one would bring down more than all, but the governments coffers itself !

    A national bank, like the Green invesment bank, or the Ceative investment bank, I am proposing, is a good sound idea.

    Roosevelt did a lot of things getting the government involved in the economy, some mistakes, rather many succeses.

    David as in chum or pal RAW

    Your link to one of my favourite mps, Ms Allen, certainly one of the fine Tories who should join us along with Anna Soubrey, does not work, technical glitch.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Michael BG
    Natasha Chapman, At our spring Conference both Julia Goldsworthy and Lucy Nethsingha said that when the Fairer Society Policy Paper comes to Conference (expe...
  • Katharine Pindar
    My good friend David Raw's comments on this, yesterday and today, are apposite as ever. I was pleased that you gave the JRF quote, David, because they are indee...
  • Charley HastedCharley Hasted
    @Elizabeth We aren't tory-lite or labour-lite though. We're Liberals and it's past time we remembered that the way we're going to win seats AND keep them is ...
  • David Raw
    "Naturally eugenics takes things a little further and screens the prospective parents and permits only those with ‘desireable’ tracts to inter-breed". Wh...
  • Tristan Ward
    Meanwhile: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-61557064...