What makes a Leader?


by Rhys Jolley previously published here

“Jeremy Corbyn is not a leader”, the cry goes out, “he’ll destroy the Labour Party. Replace him!” Media pundits and plants repeat this mantra daily. Even the left leaning Mirror blasted out its front page demand “for the sake of your party and for the sake of your country, Go now!” It is one thing to have to face up to your opposition, but another level of challenge altogether when your supposed friends turn on you so viciously.

There are many qualities a leader needs: intelligence, toughness, determination, clear objectives and vision. But a leader with responsibility for the lives and welfare of an entire nation must also demonstrate exceptional moral fibre, standing up for clearly stated principles, even when under sustained attack from opponents, with dignity. That rather sounds like Jeremy to me.

Owen Smith, says all the things expected of a challenger, but little is new. An end to austerity and the Tory nationalisation of private debt. “That’s the kind of revolution I’ll deliver,“ he passionately declares. Fine words, but will he have the guts to do what is necessary to achieve it should he be given the chance? Such courage doesn’t come easily.

The great leaders of the past had to go through decades of preparation. Mahatma Ghandi underwent an extended initiation in South Africa where he first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer involved in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. He was imprisoned many times. On returning home, he was called to stand up to the full force of the British Raj. He and his small army of ordinary people were able to face them down because he had honed the necessary moral stature and did not budge from his objective.

The Labour Party faces an enemy with an incredible determination to destroy what is left of the socialist structure in this country for its own ends. Already the multi-national corporate agenda has reached deeply into the fabric of our society with its network of CEO’s quietly strengthening their hold on the levers of power by employing devious and complex tactics while claiming the best of intentions. They enable the notorious 1% to profit from these hard times, promoting austerity, though not for themselves, of course, while herding the sick and the disabled to their deaths from neglect. Over 50% of the wealth of this country is seemingly not enough for them. They want it all and are willing to engineer the destruction of the much loved NHS and bring the profit motive into our education system by economic sleight of hand. The Tory party and many of its elected politicians are firmly in their pocket.

David Cameron’s “Big Society” followed Tony Blair’s “Third Way” into oblivion. The country is more unequal then when they began. Theresa May recently said that she will bring about “a fairer society”, but unless she is willing to stand up to this hidden enemy, her efforts will be largely cosmetic. Equal rights for women is certainly a passion of hers, but there will be no fundamental change to the other basic inequalities. Her corporate paymasters won’t allow it.

The right wing press did direct some moral outrage at the bankers, but it was short-lived and little changed. They are still raking in their millions. The current scapegoat, Philip Green, is only one very visible and especially greedy example of his ilk. He broke no laws, so why have the laws not been changed? Something very easy to do, I would have thought. Many big multi-nationals pay little tax. Is Mrs May racing to close the loopholes. I don’t see it.

So, it is up to Labour to push for the changes that will bring about Owen Smith’s equally lofty vision of a ‘more equal society’. But does he actually know what it will require? A cleansing of the corporate lobbyists who have such a hold behind the scenes on the philosophy and actions of so many in Westminster, for one thing.

Donnachadh McCarthy’s excellent book, “The Prostitute State” clearly shows the extent to which many in the Labour Party have also been corrupted, through their directorships and other links to the companies they are there to regulate, gradually watering down the principles that Labour was set up to promote.

A true leader cannot be bought. That’s Jeremy Corbyn again. His earnest challenger has not yet shown any resilience and courageous action in exposing the mechanisms behind the corruption embedded deep within our political and financial systems. You can’t change what you don’t entirely understand.

To become a true leader, Owen needs to go through his personal baptism of fire, requiring him to withstand ridicule and the inevitable personal attacks that will start when the establishment bigwigs see that he is a serious threat to their power base. Until then, he will cave in to the very first challenge from those ruthless corporates and water down his resolve in crucial ways.

So, Owen, I implore you, ‘for the sake of your party and for the sake of your country, withdraw now!’ and do your advanced moral endurance training. Generalities are not enough. Ideas are two a penny. Go onto the front line of the revolution you say you want to lead, and forensically expose the neoliberal agenda with redistributive policies that will be gunned down by the right wing press. Show them that you cannot be swayed by their threats or their bribery. Earn your stripes and then we may embrace you as our leader.

Jeremy has already proven he has what it takes to shepherd the Labour party into the next phase of its mission to achieve a much more balanced and integrated society. He should be wholeheartedly supported.





2 thoughts on “What makes a Leader?

  1. On the Subject of the nature of Leadership , this was my 3 Min speech supporting Jeremy Corbyn at our CLP Nomination for Leader meeting.

    Sheffield has always been proud of its vital and vibrant political heritage
    “What we are trying to do is something that can be picked up by the next Labour Government – getting away from the concept of the socialism of vast corporations and producing something which starts from Ground level”
    Quote from David Blunkett Leader of our Council in 1981 – no irony here

    “The City has moved towards a socialist direction – what people don’t understand is that it did so in struggle – there was no gradualism about it “
    The Late Martin Flannery then MP for Hillsborough again1981

    Today we are once again living out a struggle and Jeremy Corbyn has been the catalyst that has brought life, strength and energy to that struggle.

    To those of you here who say Jeremy is Kind and Decent Man – but he hasn’t the qualities to be a leader I would like to ask – WHAT are those qualities that you feel are lacking?

    Tessa Jowell said when asked this question recently replied – Charisma – Big Political Vision, and A Good Communicator – huge nods of approval and agreement all round –
    MY thinking ? OH That will be Boris then

    There is another style of Leadership – the style that describes Jeremy – and its Transformational

    “Transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good of the organisation.

    They pay attention to the concerns and needs of individual followers, promote intelligence, provide vision and a sense of mission, and can change our awareness of issues by showing us how to look at old issues in new ways.

    They are also able to excite, arouse, and encourage followers to put extra effort into achieving group goals. They encourage their followers to be more innovative and creative.”

    This is what I, and thousands of others in the party and in the wider community, see in Jeremy Corbyn . We feel real again – we know we are thinking active party members, not just widgets in an election machine controlled by someone above pulling our levers

    I can’t finish without mentioning the recent Shenanigans in the High Courts.

    It matters NOT what the Court decided or what the NEC did – we have 130,000 new members and more to come – They ARE members – and they WILL have their day Because the Leader of the party – Jeremy Corbyn – and he will prevail – as ever demonstrate that he inspires people to believe in themselves and in The Labour Party once again.

    For Sheffield Central to nominate ANYONE but Jeremy would be surrendering the struggle and maybe for the first time Sheffield, not leading, but being out of step with the party nationally

    Oh yes and as a footnote, I prefer my Socialism as I prefer my coffee ,
    Fresh Grounded Beans – Fair Trade of course – rather than the Instant Variety

    Sheffield Central decided NOT to Nominate, which was interesting as we were reasonably convinced , because it was a ‘Delegate Vote’ the vote would go the way of all Sheffield MPs and most of the City Council – i.e. NOT Jeremy;


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