Leader of the Month is Mark Drakeford, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly

November 2, 2020
Mark Drakeford MS
Mark Drakeford



I have searched for new leaders for LWD leader of the Month, for October, although earlier winners could have made strong cases again. The winner for October 2020 is Mark Drakeford, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly

Earlier winners

As the month ends, Dr Fauci continues to make courageous statements urging more attention to be paid to medical opinion for public safety during America’s increasing Coronavirus crisis. He continues to receive cystic dismissal for his remarks by President Trump.

Then there is Marcus Rashford who adds to his remarkable year influencing political change by scoring a hat trick coming on as a second half substitute in a Premier League game for Manchester United.

The winner

However, for his cool and courageous efforts leading Wales into its ‘firewall’ against the virus, the award for October 2020 goes to Mark Drakeford, Leader of the Welsh Assembly. His patient daily presentations have contrasted with the the hyperbolic efforts of the Prime Minister and his media spokespersons (or surrogates, to use the North American term). 

Writing in the Guardian, Welsh exile Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett describes the impact of his leadership: 


‘On Friday [October 23, 2020] Wales began a two-week national “firebreak” Covid lockdown in an attempt to give some breathing space to its health service, which risks being overwhelmed by the rise in cases. It has not been without controversy – a ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items was criticised over the weekend. In the English press, the first minister, Mark Drakeford, and the Welsh government have been labelled as “clowns” who are trying to turn Wales “into a wartime, command economy: East Germany, except not as efficient, and with more sheep” (note the tedious xenophobia).

‘The criticism over the essential items rule is less about lockdown and more about what individuals consider “essential” during times of crisis (the government has now indicated that supermarkets will be allowed flexibility – hardly the actions of a Soviet dictatorship)’

In concluding,  Coslett notes

‘Covid-19 has given Wales a glimpse of what self-determination and autonomy could look like, and it’s inspiring. In times of great fear and uncertainty, having politicians that you feel you can trust is no small thing, and is not easily forgotten’.

Llongyfarchiadau. Da iawn, Mark Drakeford. [Congratulations, Well done, Mark Drayford]


Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

July 10, 2020

Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain, Fintan O’Toole, Head of Zeus press, 2018
Reviewed by TR

O’Toole provides an Irish perspective of Brexit. He brings to it an ironic style and viewpoint comparable with that of The Guardian’s John Crace. His central theme is an explanation of Brexit as a heroic failure, shaped in the English collective consciousness as failure dramatised as heroic, and implicitly through post-imperial exceptionalism, as heroic triumph.

Another Dunkirk moment

Brexit, he points out, is seen as another Dunkirk moment. Failure elevated to success, often associated with the Dunkirk spirit. He might well have added, associated with the will of the people. He compares Boris Johnson with Enoch Powell. I found that a bit of a stretch. I do not consider Johnson a racist any more than I consider Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitic. (Powell I considered a deeply anguished racist at the time, and still do.)

Ironic distancing

However, O’Toole deepens my understanding of Johnson’s distasteful vocabulary by his argument that Powell and Johnson both cultivate a public persona of ironic distancing themselves from an era whose vocabulary they espouse. Johnson wrote of ‘the Queen being greeted by ‘flag-waving piccaninnies’. Powell wrote of a mythical old lady followed to the shops by ‘charming wide-grinning piccaninnies’. The measured archaic style is ‘something knowingly impish or unexpectedly camp, in his presentation of self’ (pp 100-101).’
Johnson’s language, O’Toole suggests, can be deconstructed as conforming to [Susan] Sontag’s definition of camp as ‘the love of the exaggerated…’ Just as Enoch Powell’s ‘weirdly arch manner ..gave a strange knowing theatricality even to his inflammatory racism’.
It seems the vivid vocabulary still deployed at times in BJ’s speeches is a reworking of a theme and style which included the invention of ‘the Brussels war on prawn cocktail flavour crisp. When the story is revealed as false, the schoolboy Boris is able to survive and profit from its exposure. A convincing explanation of how the child as father of the man escapes punishment.

History as nostalgic psychology

The demographics of the referendum vote show that a high proportion of older men with fewer educational qualifications voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU. Successive chapters build up an explanation  in what has become known as the psychodramatic approach.
It is a view contested by another Irish commentator Brian Hughes. In The Psychology of Brexit, Hughes considers the psychodrama approach as over-claiming the significance of England’s Imperial past and risking a treatment of ‘history as nostalgic psychology.

Overview

The debate continues. Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain is an enjoyable and thought-provoking contribution to the Brexit debate. I read it with pleasure for its fiercely expressed argument as well as its enviable style, which is as smooth as a well-known dark Irish beverage.

 


A long night in Paris by Dov Alfon

June 20, 2020

IMG_0363

Book Review. Dov Alfon (trans Daniella Zamir), A long night in Paris, Maclehose Quercus: London, 2018

Reviewed by Tudor Rickards

We thriller addicts are easy to please. All we want is a puzzle to be solved by interesting characters, told in way which moves on rapidly with a modicum of the unfamiliar amid the obligations of the genre.
On most counts, A long night in Paris works adequately. The main characters, Colonel Zeev Abadi, and sidekick Oriana Talmore are engaging superspies in Israeli intelligence. The plot is more than puzzling enough with assorted villains, supervillains, hit men and hit women connected together through a flight from TelAviv which arrives in Paris with a whirlwind of abductions and killings for no immediately obvious reason.
The translation feels smooth (to this reviewer ignorant of its original language). The spycraft is convincing. Minor characters have a chance to shine if they do not reach a premature end; and the violence is of the non-gratuitous kind. The puzzles are eventually resolved in a satisfactory way.
One minor distraction is the presence of one or two sub-plots which could have been left out by a little more editorial bullying.

Overall, worth a browse.

Rating ****


Marcus Rashford is LWD leader of the month for June 2020

June 16, 2020

 

Marcus Radford is LWD leader of the month for June 2020. He was figurehead of a campaign to persuade the government to change its policy towards free meals for schoolchildren during the summer break when schools were not open

A range of leaders were considered as candidates for Leader of the Month in our recent post. Their actions were to be overshadowed by the achievement and leadership style shown by Rashford subsequently over a period of days.

My notes below, from June 16, summarise the story

1.00pm

Breaking news. A government U-turn on vouchers for school meals. A triumph for Marcus Rashford’s campaign. I stop searching for the LWD leader of the month. The rapid closure of the story makes it easier to trace its key features.

Rashford has become a high-profile figure almost overnight. He presents himself as an articulate, dignified young man, with a convincing story which is easy to understand, backed up by his own experiences.

The PR pressure left the government with a classical dilemma, resist or accept the emotional potency of the case. Whatever prospect of succeeding vanished after a tweet from Therese Coffey:
‘Hi @MarcusRashford, I welcome your passion for supporting children and the most vulnerable in society – a passion we share. We are working to the same aim. I & this Govt will continue to actively help and support families and businesses through this emergency and beyond’
A tweet storm followed. Three hours later, the U-turn in advance of a debate on school meals scheduled for later this afternoon.


Leadership thoughts

Rashford’s rocketing celebrity helps counter-balance the virtues of the charismatic leader which increase at times of crisis. No one previously singled out the soft-spoken Rashford as a potential leader, even for a football team.
Searching for explanations in the numerous theories of leadership , I can glimpse explanations in the Level five leadership of Jim Collins. The leader who is ‘modest but with fierce resolve’. This was discussed for football leaders in an earlier post
The other theory is of the authentic leader. While many politicians seek to claim their humble backgrounds, they too often seem inauthentic. Rashford exhumes a genuine belief for the cause he has so successfully espoused.

A refreshing discovery that we need not disregard leaders who do not fit the contentious stereotype of a charismatic personality.


Leader of the month award: BLM candidates dominate

June 14, 2020

One figure dominated headlines and transcends any monthly award. George Floyd, for the impact his death had on the anti-racist moment around the world.  It was to lead to its own heroic figures of the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement

Candidates

Superintendent Andy Bennett, for his crowd-control decisions during the Edward Colston demonstration in Bristol.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, partly for his soft-touch in the demonstration and his earlier leadership initiatives

Tennis player Coco Gauff, who spoke out over the George Floyd killing.

General Mattis, for his outspoken condemnation of his Commander in chief reported in a Sky Atlantic article

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia, for popular leadership without merging into its more frequent undesirable popularist Aspects.

Other candidates

The list is still open for additional candidates.

Update: June 16 2020

Two more names added to the LWD Leader of the Month award.
Marcus Rashford lobbying for retention of school meals over the summer break
Patrick Hutchingson for rescuing a racist under attack during the weekend protests.

Will Burnham Busses and Electric Bikes be the future for Manchester?

June 5, 2020

 

Manchester is facing an uncertain future as it attempts another transformation, perhaps the greatest since Cottonopolis sprung to life in the roaring days of the Industrial revolution

One initiative has been launched from the office of the Mayor Andy Burnham and his team, in conjunction with The Growth Company and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

Undeterred by the label, I signed up for one of its introductory webinars [June 5 2020]. I was pleased to discover that it was to be no more that an hour, a few minutes longer that the daily press conferences from the Government.

It turned out to be more interesting. For example, viewers were spared the PowerPoint slides.  The presentations were mercifully brief, and the presence of a facilitator obviously helped.

‘Build Back better’

The strap line for the initiative is Build Back better. But what does better look like? Its
Key themes are daunting but familiar ones:
Procurement
Strategy/Purpose
Working differently
People/Talent
Green
W/L balance

The mayor outlined existing and potential projects (the following from my notes)
Return to work: Adapting provisional changes. Returning to office v Working at home
Opportunities: Change Heath Care system. Integrated system for 2.8m people
Housing crisis:The high street will change. Implications?
New industries: Digital
Self Employment: challenges through existing and new support schemes
With Gvnt. Support for levelling-up initiatives: Retrofitting for construction opportunities to achieve zero-carbon housing

Questions

Questions from the distant audience (my notes again)
BAME help? 5% companies with BAME leaders. Working to encourage and improve.
Cycling importance? Work locations for more cycling walking components on work day. Newer modes like electric scooters.
Enhancing innovative actions? Recognising ‘front line staff initiatives’ taking place
Young people’s involvement? Already working towards a large-scale initiative including career progression.
Business start ups? Revive business apprenticeships and other entrepreneurial training
Next steps? To strengthen recovery strategy. To keep in touch with those becoming involved

Overview

A well-managed introduction to plans to support the challenge of regional reconstruction In the year of the virus. More posts as the project develops.


LWD leader of the month is Nichola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

June 2, 2020

 

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/uploads/projects/36220.jpg?1448272407

LWD leader for May 2020 was chosen from four political leaders currently in a political struggle over autonomy, while dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. The winner was Nichola Sturgeon, for her performances in the daily press conferences reporting on the Coronavirus news.

The four nations championship

The differences in policy reminds me in some ways of a battle such as the rugby union championship (known as the four nations championship before their numbers swelled to today’s six.
The original four nations championship contenders were England, Scotland, Ireland (combined NI and Republic) and Wales. This month’s political battles can be seen a struggle between the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, the last represented by the Leader of the Government in Westminster.

The Candidates

The candidates for LWD leader of the month are therefore
Nichola Sturgeon, Scotland
Arlene Foster, N. Ireland
Mark Drakeford, Wales
Boris Johnson , Prime Minister of the Parliament representing the four nations.

The West Lothian question

At the start of of the month [May 2020] tensions are building up between the leaders representing the devolved political administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on one hand, and the leader of the Westminster Government.
There is no Parliament of England (although it has its advocates). The Westminster Parliament has representatives from England, but also from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is what one commentator likened to a re-run of the West Lothian question.

Border complications

The complications implied in the West Lothian question around borders continued, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland administrations decided to exercise their rights by departing from the Westminster policy over easing the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The first impact was border complications, with people from England free to cross the border but then having to accept different rules once across. Later, the opening up of schools became another dilemma.
Polite efforts were made to indicate shared values and goals, but tensions were to remain. Boris Johnson had the more difficult task of speaking as Prime Minister of all four nations, and sometimes for England in this current divergence of views.

The Daily press conferences

All four countries held daily press conferences. Sturgeon, Foster, and Drakeford choose to lead the meetings every day. Johnson took to team approach, with various cabinet ministers who became daily celebrities among the political commentators in MSD and internet communities.This kept him largely out of the limelight.

Towards the end of the month he gained publicity of an unwelcome kind in what became known as the Cummingsgate affair. (More in future posts).

The Sturgeon challenge

Nichola Sturgeon took on the challenge in exemplary fashion. Although facing inevitable distractors from political opponents, there has been wide consensus that her daily performances have been successful. In comparison, with one exception, the Boris substitutes have ranged from adequate to abysmal. (The exception, The Chancellor, Ricci Sunakwho had fewer opportunities to shine. However, he seems to have been favoured as a future leader of the Conservative party  by the supportive MSM papers. A future candidate for the LWD award?)

Sturgeon’s meetings took place in the early afternoon, and were covered more intensively than those of the other leaders, which did not attract the same attention outside their national news outlets.The challenge for all the leaders facing the press was communicating bad news including daily new deaths, with clarity and empathy.
Sturgeon was a convincing communicator. The train wrecks involving others were the right words came out, but increasingly appearing that they were being spoken uncomfortably from a script provided them.

In all, Nichola Sturgeon is a worthy winner of the LWD Leader of the Month award


The Four Nations Championship. Who will be LWD leader of the month?

May 9, 2020

 

LWD leader for May 2020, will be chosen from leaders currently engaged in a political struggle over autonomy while dealing with the Coronavirus crisis.

The dispute reminds me in some ways of the Home Nations rugby union championship.  At first this known as The Four Nations championship, before their numbers swelled to include first France, and then Italy. Finally its name changed and it became the Six Nations championship.

The original four nations championship contenders were England, Scotland Ireland (combined NI and Republic) and Wales. In politics, the matter is more complicated.

This month’s political battles can be seen a struggle between the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, the last represented by the Leader of the Government in Westminster.

The Candidates

The candidates for LWD leader of the month are
Nichola Sturgeon
Arlene Foster
Mark Drakeford
Boris Johnson

The West Lothian question

At the time of writing [8 May 2020] tensions are building up between the leaders representing the devolved political administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on one hand, and the leader of the Westminster Government.
There is no Parliament of England (although that has its advocates). The Westminster Parliament has representatives from England, but also from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is what one commentator likened to a re-run of the West Lothian question.
The original West Lothian question was about dual representation. The on-going political discussions about the Northern Ireland border have a similar core dilemma.

The leader of the month is the candidate deemed to have best managed the challenges facing them.

To be continued …


A simple lifesaving approach for social distancing

May 1, 2020

 

 

 

How to save lives

 
Here’s a way to save lives during the virus crisis, Use this simple signalling process to ensure good social distancing when passing another pedestrian. At least it avoids that left-right dance. It protects both those passing from possible infection.

The basic moves are for you to identify the way you intend to move, and signal, then indicate where to advancing passer-by should move.

Particularly useful where joggers, dog-walkers, or parents with baby buggies are approaching.

Try it out. It works. You can also make up versions of the actions you may feel more comfortable with.

The clip was shot without cruelty to the volunteers in view. 


Will Boris Johnson’s return win him the LWD Leader of the Month award?

April 26, 2020

Boris Johnson’s plucky return to take control of the Government’s anti-virus battle may not be enough to win him the Leaders We Deserve coveted award (Update)

From time to time, LWD examines leadership behaviours and awards a leadership of the month award. This month there are several strong candidates to choose from. Some argue such awards are pointless and misleading. However, the chronicling of the leaders draws attention to their actions.

The award would add further credibility to the PM’s reputation as a dynamic and charismatic leader. However, he faces tough challenges from others on the short-list.

Boris Johnson will take back control from his deputy Dominic Raab tomorrow [Monday 27 April, 2020]. Mr Raab nearly made the shortlist for his convincing ability to stick to a pre-agreed script in answer to journalists’ questions in press conferences this month. However, his answers sometimes were to different questions to those asked, which resulted in his eventual exclusion from the short-list.

The Short-listed leaders

Jacinda Arherne
Angela Merkel
Anthony Fauci
Andrew Cuomo

The results will be announced later this week.

Don’t miss it …

Update: Several new candidates have appeared on the list. But their claims are being checked.  In the meanwhile, here is more information about the shortlisted candidates

Jacinda Arherne, Prime Minister of New Zealand gained widespread approval for her leadership. following the massacre in a Christchurch mosque, and a volcanic eruption. Now she is leading a highly successful campaign dealing with the Coronavirus with similar sure-footedness.

Angela Merkel led from the front in her explanations to the German people. Her scientific background gives her an edge, she understands and explains lucidly. Unfortunately for wannabe leaders her communications are grounded in deep technical knowledge and authentic belief in her message.

“Merkel painted a picture of the greatest challenge since the Second World War, but she did not speak of war,” the influential Sueddeutsche Zeitungnewspaper wrote. “She did not rely on martial words or gestures, but on people’s reason. Nobody knows if that will be enough, but her tone will at least not lead the people to sink into uncertainty and fear.”Merkel’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is still very much a work in progress, but a poll released Friday by ZDF television showed 89 per cent of Germans thought the government was handling it well. The poll saw Merkel strengthen her lead as the country’s most important politician and a strong 7 per cent rise for her centre-right Union bloc after months in which it was weighed down by questions over its future leadership. The poll, done by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage

Trump’s medical advisor Anthony Fauci is hardly a well-known figure but he has an impressive reputation as a scientific leader in times of crisis.
A recent article illustrates his contributions and his current leadership skills.
‘Fauci was one of the first scientists to document “severe opportunistic infections among apparently previously healthy homosexual men”. His lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) led the charge for a cure, and he became the public face of the government’s fight to stop the virus.
Fauci has continued his life’s work, leading the effort to contain infectious diseases from Sars to Ebola to swine flu.
Working with the current president, Fauci appears to sense that keeping his job depends on keeping Trump happy. When he has contradicted Trump, he has usually done so gently. When Trump pushed the lupus drug hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure, Fauci said: “In terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works”

New York’s Mayor Cuomo is currently also dealing with America’s mercurial President as he grapples with the State facing the gravest Coronavirus crisis. He appears to be resilient, with his own press conferences models of clarity and empathy.
He impresses me each time he addresses the scared citizens of New York

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of HM’s Government got off to a poor start when he announced himself having to self-isolate due the symptoms of Covid-19. With his ministers claiming he was in good health, things took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed as testing positive, admitted to hospital and then into intensive care.
Then his brave battle turned round, he recovered, and until recently was recuperating at Chequers. He is returning to full control of the country’ s fight against the virus. However, this late return to form may be too late for him to secure the LWD Leader of the Month award

Update

Leader of the Month is:

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacinda_Ardern

In 2019, she was shortlisted for Times Person of the year and was spoken of as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings.

As her citation states, she gained widespread approval for her leadership following the massacre in a Christchurch mosque. Her empathy was matched with her firm actions.

Earlier this year, a volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand was dealt with again with effective measures combined with concern for those most closely involved.
Now she is leading a highly successful campaign dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis with similar sure-footedness.

Runners up

Runners up, but both worthy winners , were President Trump’s medical advisor Anthony Fauci, and New York’s Mayor Cuomo, both of whom showed a grasp of reality and were able to communicate it under hostile conditions.

Boris Johnson had a good month after a bad start. He fell in to the Covid-19 virus, and was hospitalised. Concerns were reported of his condition as he entered a High Dependency unit. Then the recovery to take back control of his cabinet. To add to his turbulent month, his fiancee Carrie Simonds gave birth to a baby boy. Supporters are pressing for the faithful to clap not only for the front-line heroes but the rescued Prime Minister.