Principles and Persuasion
What does the unexpected landslide Labour Leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn have to teach us about our political process and what we look for from those who lead? In a Forbes “Leadership” blog titled “Conviction Is King: Will the Winner Take It All?,” Richard Hytner, Worldwide Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, suggests the victory of the “rank outsider” reminds us “perhaps of the most important lesson about leadership: principles matter and conviction is king.”
The election, a dramatic move away from Labour’s centrist policies following the party’s worst performance in 30 years in May, signals to many a desire for a return to real politics. “Stand for everything and you stand for nothing,” suggests Hytner, who also serves as Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the London Business School. “Jeremy Corbyn was rewarded with victory perhaps for no reason greater than his conviction. It is now his credibility and competence as a leader that will be subjected to intense scrutiny.”
Indeed, defeated early favourite Andy Burnham—now Corbyn’s shadow home secretary—offered this insight following Saturday’s surprising election result: “What [the British people] want is politicians of conviction—people who say what they mean. People are sick to death of seeing people who look like they are reading off a script.”
Will the party find a way to embrace the unification promised by Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson, or will Corbyn be lip-synching Abba’s “Winner Takes It All”? Two things remain certain: “the new Tom & Jerry show will make for compulsive viewing.” And, the Labour Party leadership shake-up holds significant lessons for the upcoming U.S. presidential election, where blunt, outspoken Donald Trump has upended the Republican field, while rumpled, unpolished, avowed socialist Bernie Sanders—in some ways Corbyn’s U.S. counterpart—had been polling surprisingly well against Hillary Clinton.
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