Political Debaters: Watch the Throne
Is it better to be the champion or the challenger, the leader or the upstart, the person in power or with one’s eyes on the throne? In a Forbes “Leadership” blog titled “Election Warning: Incumbents Have the Tougher Job,” Richard Hytner reflects on lessons from the UK’s recent election debate. Watching all of Britain’s seven party political leaders go head-to-head on telly April 2, the author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the London Business School suggests that “it is far easier to be the challenger than the incumbent.” Indeed, a YouGov poll conducted after the debate suggested that the main party leaders were overshadowed by the minority parties.
In the article Hytner offers keen observations about each candidate’s particular debating style. Highlighting the tricky spot Nick Clegg finds himself in, Hytner draws out the dilemma of the Deputy Prime Minister’s inability to distance himself completely from David Cameron, his collaborator of the last five years, knowing that partnership might continue. Hytner similarly pulls no punches critiquing Ed Miliband, who “under what seemed like the excessive influence of media training” kept turning directly to the camera and imploring those watching at home to make up their own minds, looking “at times more like a game show host than a PM in waiting.” The author reminds the debaters of some prophetic words from poet Maya Angelo: “people will forget what you say, forget what you do, but will never forget how you made them feel.”
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