He Doesn’t Feel Like A Leader
“He doesn’t feel like a leader.”
This refrain has been uttered many times during the last few days, but who does it refer to? Cameron? The clown prince Johnson? (a man deemed to be a celebrity if the regular use of just ‘Boris’ when referring to him is anything to go by). Actually the comment is about Jeremy Corbyn, and it has been said countless times in front of media cameras, in vox pops, by commentators and by MPs.
But why doesn’t Jeremy Corbyn feel like a leader? His record of opposition to iniquity is lengthy and outstanding. He goes on demonstrations, he makes passionate speeches, his ethics are about as mature and humane as could be wished for, and many Labour voters and politicians deem him above all “a decent man.” Maybe there is something wrong with him… or, maybe he is fine, but he doesn’t match the role of leader.
What then is generally accepted these days as leadership qualities? A leader must be ‘strong,’ competitive, must support the current economic system without question, because business is very important – growth! growth! growth! – and must be seen by the right wing media as a suitable person. Oh, and a leader must wear the right sort of clothes; absolutely vital, that. Interestingly, this rule appears to apply only to male leaders – the symbolic uniform that is the suit’n’tie.
Jeremy Corbyn’s attributes – compassionate, thoughtful, humane, with a strong sense of injustice – are not welcome, it seems. Perhaps he is decades, even centuries ahead of his time – as was Michael Foot. Perhaps our model of leadership is designed for those who have not yet acquired such attributes as compassion and humanity. The irony of this of course is that those few conviction politicians who go to Westminster to do humanity some good are 99.9% left of centre.
It is not difficult to argue that the present political system was designed by boys for the use of boys. By ‘boy,’ I mean an emotionally stunted standard man, whose ethical outlook matches that of a boy anywhere between the ages of eight and eighteen. You only have to glance at the hierarchical, woman-rejecting, vengeful, self-regarding (‘the Westminster bubble’), dysfunctional system of Parliament to see a group of boys in a schoolyard. I’m sure Douglas Adams wasn’t the first person to observe that those attracted to power in a hierarchical system are those least suited to wielding it. And I think it is highly significant that today Teresa May made a barbed comment, presumably aimed at Boris Johnson, about “government not being a game.”
But boys do think it’s a game. That’s the problem.