The Queens’s speech, and how we get The Leaders We Deserve

June 29, 2017
 I have written often about leaders and their actions in Leaders we deserve for over ten years and in a thousand posts. The State Opening of the new Parliament provides me with yet another case example.
The event [wednesday 21 June 2017] took place after a spectacular disruption of events in the UK. A year ago, the unexpected result of the EU referendum dislodged Prime Minister Cameron. Infighting finished off leading pretenders, and outsider Theresa May took over unopposed.
At the start of the election campaign, the Prime Minister faced a Labour Party opposition led by the unpopular Jeremy Corbyn. She resisted the temptation to call a premature second election but then changed her mind. The campaign was badly run, May campaigned weakly on a platform of her being a Strong and Stable leader. Corbyn offered his expected radical alternative. The result shocked most observers, and left the government worse off in seats in Parliament .Rule with a minority of votes was a possibility. An attempt to boost numbers of seats by support from the Northern Irish DUP (Democratic Unionists Party) was being negotiated. The State Opening of Parliament took place without resolution of the matter..
Meanwhile, events conspired against the wounded leader. Several dreadful terrorist attacks, and a horrendous tower-block fire, reinforced her difficulty in revealing her deeply-held emotions. Her description as robotic, The Maybot, gained traction from regular political sketches by John Scace, and entered political vocabulary.
The Ritual Opening of Parliament
The Queen eschewed the customary State Carriage with its requirement for full ceremonial dress. This was announced earlier, but the occasion retained its air of unreality and still with much ritual. There were plenty of weirdly dressed personages. The Queen arrived in a very large car. The royal crown arrived it its own car, and had its own special place as she read out ‘her’ speech. The charade of knocking on locked doors and enacting the mystical relationship between monarch and parliament is enacted.
The proceedings are transmitted to a bemused world, showing what a funny place this country is. The image make up a simulacrum, a fiction based on an original which never existed of Olde England.
In the space of a few hours, a scene unfolded which captured the stability, perhaps the over-stability of the culture transmitted around the world. The bizarre trappings of the State Opening of Parliament have ossified over centuries and reinforce.the image of the funny old-fashioned country we are.
The Queen’s Speech and Brexit
I concentrated on the speech. It had been made widely-available earlier. The main focus was the departure negotations from the EU.
“The main focus of the speech was breakfast,” says a TV reporter, adding “Brexit, not breakfast. Sorry, I knew I’d get that wrong, sooner or later.”
Brexit was indeed much-mentioned in the speech, which was briefer than usual. It had been revised hastily to remove mention of the policies on which the Government fought and dismally failed to convince the electorate, during the General Election.
The little problem of the DUP
“The DUP are very experienced in these matters” Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP and ultra-committed Brexiteer said afterwards, trying to explain why the planned confidence and support arrangement is still being negotiated. This leaves the Government with a parliamentary minority.  It has not go unnoticed that the Government’s negotiating difficulties with ten DUP members does not auger well for the tasks ahead with the EU team of crack negotiators..
The Great Repeal Bill
An excited Brexit advocate insists the social benefits of membership of the EU will be retained by the Great Repeal Bill which will incorporate all Euro legislation. I need guidance, I can’t make sense of it and look to be enlightened in the debate on the queen’s speech. If the original legislation was bad, why take it over with the claimed intention of not changing anything?
Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the speech.
Corbyn began with his deepest regrets of the loss of life in the recent disasters, and from the Houses of Parliament. He moved on to strong condemnation of the paucity of policy in speech. He welcomed absence of several undesirable policies in the manifesto, including new grammar schools, offering a new vote on fox-hunting, and repealing the triple-lock on OAP pensions.
He asked for a response from the Goverment mostly on points just about exhausted during the election. He also offered a few signals for attack points to be expected, during the further days of debate. The speech was not exactly a block-buster. Unlike the effect of many of his earlier efforts, the noises from the government benches sounded half-hearted in response.
The PM rises to respond
First she sends best wishes to the hospitalized Duke of Edinburgh. Then she chooses a less combative style than usual in her opening remarks about terrorism. Soon however, the orchestrated questions return her and viewers to the same old PMQ culture.
The PM seems uncomfortable with the requirements of being heart-broken, and needs a little more practice.  Her first attempt at a joke was a dreadful pun over the missing (Alex) Salmon, but was applauded loudly by her loyal supporters.
When challenged about the election result, the PM tries to rouse the ranks with a ploy which used to work, three questions requiring a crescendo of triumphant cries in answer. Something went wrong amid points of order. Something has changed about the House. She was not helped by the lethargy behind her. In contrast, Corbyn had more support from erstwhile opponents in his own ranks. She continued pluckily, but the speech always promised to have an uninspiring end. In that,  I was not disappointed.
Dinosaurs and unparliamentary language
DUP interventions give an indication of hallmark truculence and easily-roused resentments in Northern Ireland’s political encounters.  Sir Geoffrey Robinson objected to reference to his party as Dinosaurs. Speaker Berkow  assured him it was not unparliamentary language, and anyway, dinosaurs existed for a very long time. It is easy to see how the Goverment discussions with the DUP were taking longer than anyone thought at the outset.
Corbyn and May: Compare and Contrast
Image and reality. Since her unelected accession to leader of the Conservative party and prime Minister of HM’s Government, Teresa May has appeared as a dominant force in the public showings in Prime Minister’s Question Time. Her weekly humiliation of Jeremy Corbyn showed a streak of cruelty in her cleverly constructed put-downs. All polls suggested a sudden election would produce a landslide. The encouragement from the Main Stream Media prompted the PM to complete a U-turn on the grounds of obstructive behaviour of opposition parties at a time the country needed strong and stable leadership. This was to become her at the election slogan, and one which contributed to her party’s election misfortunes. Her performance increasingly revealed her skills at Question Time were not replicated in unstructured situations. Corbyn was winning large audiences of young people who were immune to the daily venom supplied by the Conservative Sun and Daily Mail, partly because they got their information from social networks and media.
The Guardian’s John Crace produced a series of brilliant political sketches during the Election campaign. His description of Theresa May as the  Maybot has moved into popular use. Here is an extract from his take on the State Opening of Parliament.

No one could say they weren’t warned. The Supreme Leader had promised a coalition of chaos if she lost six seats and a coalition of chaos was what the country was getting. What she hadn’t made clear was that the coalition of chaos would be all hers.

After a morning’s work of emergency repairs to her circuits, which had overloaded the night before, the Maybot was eventually in a fit state to meet the Queen shortly after 12 o’clock. Her husband Philip put her through her final tests. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am the Supreme Leader,” the Maybot replied, rather more confidently than she felt. “Strong and stable. Strong and stable”.

John Crace, The Guardian, Friday 9th June, The Maybot is trapped in the first phase of election grief – denial

The earlier perceptions of Theresa May as strong and stable, and Corbyn as wildly radical and unable to command respect were shown to be at best based on partial and temporary sets of beliefs. Both became leaders because other candidates were considered wanting. Both came to power almost my accident, Corbyn after forty years of activism on the fringes of power  Almost immediately, his parliamentary party suffered voters’ regret, and have been trying to get rid of him, and his unfashionably  and socialist policies and closest political supporters. ever since.
For the first time, the General Election result has made him perceived as an asset to his party. His popularity among new party recruits was a big factor in his apotheosis.
In contrast, May is considered politically toast (a dead woman walking, as the former  Chancellor George Osborne put it), with would-be successors lined up silently (for the moment) among her cabinet colleagues.
 May and Corbyn are in one sense the leaders their supporters wanted and worked for, the Leaders they deserved, for better or for worse.
Post postscript
The snarling debate on the Queen’s speech continues this week. The Government finds a £billion to ensure support from Northern Ireland’s DUP, to keep it going.
Jeremy Corbyn auditions for a career as a pop star while waiting for a vacancy to arise as Prime Minister.
To be continued

Aging Lions maul coach Warren Gatland

June 19, 2017

Warren Gatland


In advance of Saturday’s test match against New Zealand’s All Blacks, [scheduled 24 June 2017] Warren Gatland, the coach of the British and Irish Lions is mauled in a bitter attack by Rugby Union pundits around the world, including former Lion players

Gatland’s heinous blunder

His crime? Dealing with a series of injuries to his squad, Gatland made the decision to call up additional support from members of the Welsh and Scottish teams, touring in the region.

A storm of protest burst out, led by England coach Eddie Jones, whose team is touring in Argentina, half way around the world. The headline Eddie Jones says what we have all been thinking about Gatland’s supposed call-ups sums up the nature of the ‘debate’.

Revenge attacks?

I was struck by both the ferocity and uniformity of the attacks. Gatland had triggered an avalanche of criticism. In some ways, this can be traced to disenchantment with Gatland, who will resume his role as coach to the Welsh national team after the tour.  Accusations of bias have followed Gatland from the outset of this tour against the world champions, who are odds-on favourites to win the three-test series.

His original selections were viewed as biased in favour of players he knew and trusted from Wales, and why strong candidates from England were omitted. The objections were mostly from the English media. Garland was criticized for Nationalistic bias, an ironic charge for someone of New Zealand not Newport Gwent roots.

Players omitted from the England squad were outspoken.

During the few weeks of the tour in June, tour criticism of Gatland built up. The coach was put on the defensive.

The emotional argument

So, returning the six replacements, the emotional argument against the extra six players can be summarized simply. Commentator after commentator echoed it:


“The decision devalues the Lions’ shirt


Few seemed to find it necessary to add (as Gatland found it necessary to point out) that the decision was reached  after long discussions by the international management coaching team of the Lions. Nor was there comment on how these players the pundits dismissed as not fit to wear the shirt might react, if their team mates on their arrival treated them as second-class citizens.

Historical baggage?

There seemed a lot of historical baggage about the media treatment of the story. For example:

England’s former Lion Jeremy Guscott found headlines in a half-time roasting of the Welsh team against Japan in the last World Cup. In particular, he blasted the Lions on the pitch.  Ironically, Wales upped their game against Japan, and Japan contributed to a display which led to the humiliation of England on home soil and the eventual appointment of new coach Eddie Jones.

Returning to the present controversy, even a Welsh rugby great has weighed in.

Jonathan Davies is a much-loved national figure who has suffered hardships and tragedy in his personal life with fortitude and public grace. His views are generally forthright and honest. He again took the devaluing the Lion shirt line.

Putting my frayed academic nightcap and bed socks on, and supping my Ovaltine, I suspect each player is demonstrating the core issue of social identity. Pundit Guscott now preserves his aura of greatness earned as a Lion through the symbolism of the brand. Davies never achieved the honour of playing for the Lions, as he made the painful decision to leave the amateur game of Rugby Union to support his family as a rugby league player, returning later as professionalism entered the Union code.

Gatland’s stubborn streak

There is a well-known streak of stubbornness about Gatland, although no more than the one apparent in the public pronouncements of Eddie Jones.

The test series may well be lost to the mighty All Blacks. If so, it would be helpful to conduct post-mortems in a more clinical fashion than the ‘expert’ diagnoses to date.

New Leadership Events at Sunderland Business School

June 12, 2017

15th June:  David Land, Director, Drive 2 Business will be speaking about  Leading through Supply Chains in the Automotive Sector

6th July:   Emma Walton, Head of People (Operations) will be speaking on Responsible Leadership and Social Impact

Sunderland Business School is pleased to announce its second series of the popular Business Breakfast Seminars, which began in January and will run until July 2017. All of the award-winning businesses invited to lead these events represent different facets of the core theme which is Leading with Impact. Not only do they represent a clear alignment with the core values of our Strategic Plan, the award-winning businesses leading these free events have been carefully selected as aligning with the core values underlining our new strategic plan: inspiring, innovative, collaborative, inclusive and excellent.

Leading with impact

Leading with Impact a reflects our commitment to developing excellence in leadership and management development as one of our strategic growth areas.  The seminars provide a learning and networking opportunity where award winning business leaders share their experience and expertise on the major challenges facing organizations today. This is a great opportunity for business leaders to start the working day with some with some time out to learn from their peers, share experiences, reflect, and engage in lively dialogue about the best ways of addressing key strategic challenges.

Participants are also able to take advantage of a light business breakfast and an opportunity to make initial introductions and network. During the seminar itself, speakers will leave plenty of time for an interactive dialogue and debate on the lessons learnt from their experiences.

The seminars will take place between 8-10am on Thursdays at Sunderland Business School, the Reg Vardy Centre, St Peter’s Campus, St Peter’s Way, Sunderland SR6 0DD

Contact us via

Posted by

 Dr Rob Worrall BA (Hons), MA, MSc, PhD, SFHEA, FCMI, FRSA, ACIPD Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Business,  Law and Tourism Tel: 0191 515 3060 | M: 07748 334 833 | E:

Jason Kingsley: A chivalric leader in a strong and stable world?

June 5, 2017

Jason Kingsley is chief executive and co-founder of  Rebellion Developments, one of the UK’s largest computer games companies. He is said to run his domains according to a medieval knight’s chivalric code of conduct. As a member of the order of cynical journalists, I set about testing the tales told about this gentle knight

I learn that in the ancient city of Oxford the young Jason with his brother formed a company of knights brilliant in swordsmanship.  None could compete with Jason who became famed for his jousting, astride one of his stable of pure white chargers. In time, his fame grew and he was joined by full many a warrior such as Judge Dredd.

Judge Dredd has won fame for his great leadership characteristics in a Galaxy far away in space and time. He is increasingly part of everyday folklore when cries are made for tougher police methods.

QUOTE “What the code comes down to is try to be a decent person… and there are three parts bravery, honesty and kindness.

“In business, the need to be brave is obvious; the ability to charge forward and seize the opportunity, and do the best that you can with it.

“It is also about exploring new territories and seeking out new markets. It is an essential component in being a leader. Honesty doesn’t mean telling everyone your secrets, it means dealing fairly with people. So in business, I don’t try to get the best deal for myself, I’m trying to get the best deal for both sides. “This is fairer and the right thing to do, and if the other side makes a profit they will come back and work with me again. “And kindness is simply about the need to treat people well.”

From the Chronicles of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Rebellion Developments was founded in 1991 and now has a turnover in excess of £25m. It is still wholly owned by the two brothers who founded it. Its best-selling titles include Sniper Elite and Rogue Trooper. It also owns the cult UK comic book series 2000 AD, and publishes a range of novels.

Chivalric leadership evaluated

How might chivalric leadership be evaluated? I am struck by how the description might fit those frequently applied to Jeremy Corbyn, leading the troops of the Labour Party in the General Election campaign [May-June, 2017].

Like any gentle knight, Sir Jeremy had to battle against many evil forces. Students of leadership may be reminded of the notion of Servant Leadership, which remains a minor but well-supported idea.

The servant leader transcends ego and leads in the interests of others.

Trump to renegotiate Paris climate change accord

June 2, 2017

President Trump returns from his eight-day humiliation tour of the Middle East and Europe to announce he would be pulling out of the Paris environmental treaty

“They won’t be laughing now” he said, arguing that earlier global arrangements had taken America as suckers.  Not laughing, maybe, but weeping in frustration.

Make the Planet Great Again, Justin Trudeau tweeted.

President Obama was able to overcome political opposition at home in signing up America for the Paris accord.  The two countries yet to sign are Syria and Nicaragua.

Donald Trump is sticking to his election pledge to create jobs in the rust-belt states. This may not create the kind of jobs the displaced coal miners voted for. Opponents argue that growth in jobs will come to workers able to retrain for new skills.

China and the EU are seen as moving more closely together on this issue. President Trump’s announcement was early justification of Chancellor Merkel’s claim this week that the EU could no longer take for granted shared interests with the USA and the UK on climate change.

Timing bad for Theresa May?

More locally, Theresa May, an early ally of President Trump, is regretting the timing of the announcement. She is a week away from a General Election she called, fighting on the basis her strong and stable leadership as she negotiates the UK’s departure from the EU. An earlier lead in the polls is shrinking. Attacks on labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seem to have failed to exacerbate his earlier woeful ratings as a future Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister’s non-show at a televised debate this week gave opponents the chance to weaken her case further, by describing her as weak and wobbly. Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, had a particularly positive impact on the audience.

The Prime Minister called the Trump decision disappointing.  She could have been referring to the effect it could have on the final election result.