Charisma watch: in Westminster: Making a spectacle of themselves

March 28, 2016

 Joseph Chamberlain

 There is political turmoil in the Westminster bubble, with ministerial resignations, budgetary U turns, and emergency sittings.  The presentation of self through TV broadcasts makes a fascinating topic for investigation

Take, for example, the choice of ocular aids. The Prime Minister, spic and span, is only transformed as he whips out a pair of unobtrusive spectacles to read from a supplied answer before him. He then replaces the specs as quickly as possible.

The entire Government front bench has been a near Spec-free zone in the absence of Michael Gove with his heavy duty spectacles. Maybe childhood bullying and taunts of ‘specky four eyes’ means there is reluctance among leadership wannabes to risk revealing an ocular weakness. Nor was there sign of that symbol of the ruling classes the magnificent monacle as espoused by Joseph Chamberlin.

In contrast, the opposition were fearlessly flaunting their spectacles. Leader Jeremy Corbyn rarely allows his features to appear specless in public. I pondered on the way leaders build their self-image in public.

 The Charismatics

I tried to remember the spectacles favoured by charismatic leaders. Gandhi  and John Lennon gave fashion credibility to the style of the aesthetic and creative individual. Then there is another recent  charismatic American politician whose spectacles were part of a spectacular brand image. I refer, of course, to none other than Sarah Palin.

 The Intellectuals

There is an intellectual heavy duty design which I associate with French heavy duty intellectuals. England can offer Michael Gove, aready mentioned above, in this respect. From America there is the intellectual, humourist and film-maker  Mr Woody Allen.

 The proposed research project

How to study this fascinating subject?  Clearly it calls for an exploratory or pilot stage. The classification of spectacles will be of itself an interesting part of this.  Our political figues could be classified according to preferred choice of spectacle, leadership style, and perhaps political effectiveness.

To be continued

Perhaps with a comparison of beards, or even hairstyles …








How should we read a statement by George Soros? Carefully.

March 13, 2014

George Soros If I could outguess George Soros I would be very clever and perhaps very rich. But I can offer a few observations about his history which may help interpret his recent comments about a new financial crisis

When George Soros speaks, the financial world listens. He has been speaking in the UK this week [March 2014] of the next financial crisis that he says will come about in part a consequence of weak financial leadership in Europe, and in particular in Germany.

He is particularly remembered for an enormous financial coup as the pound Sterling crashed at the time of Black Wednesday [16th September, 1992]. His success then was through a daring short-selling operation which can be admired for its daring or condemned for its contribution to a global economic crisis. Since then, his espousing of various social causes has led him to be pronounced ‘a dangerous leftist’ by Human Events’ readers, who in an online poll, recently voted him “the single most destructive leftist demagogue in the country.”

Soros is a big player

George is a capitalist superstar or a dangerous leftist supervillain. He may be speaking as an old man and a noted philanthropist concerned only to warn us that Europe is heading for yet more financial trouble. He may be speaking to avert or reduce such a crisis. He may be speaking with no personal agenda.

Or he may have the motives of a inveterate speculator

Or he may have the motives of a inveterate speculator, the gamester whose actions always designed to “tell” what he wants to reveal.

Or he may be plugging his new book

Or he may be plugging his new book, The Tragedy of the European Union, which was published this week, and which itself aligns with his libertarian political philosophy and his altruistic efforts.

Putting lipstick on a Rottweiler

To rephrase a term expressed by the American politician and folk philosopher Sarah Palin, you kin put lipstick on a Rottweiler but underneath it’s still a goddam Rotweiler .

Note to my students

I am not a supporter of either/or logic in assessing complex socio-economic issues. George Soros needs to be studied as a successful thought leader who shows consistency only in his skills of revealing what he wishes to reveal.

Wanted: Blogs for Leaders We Deserve

May 27, 2011

Leaders We Deserve announce a new service for subscribers. We will be providing a list of blog topics with an open invitatation for new authors to add to the list. The list becomes open for anyone wishing to write a post on a topic (“Bid”) or propose a topic for someone else to write (“Propose”)

How the bidding and proposing works

This is how the service works. Anyone can ‘bid’ to write a post or ‘propose’ a post for Leaders we deserve by using the comments section below. Proposals for new topics should have a title and brief information to indicate the main idea behind the proposed blog. Bids should outline the ‘header’ to the proposed blog post (the first paragraph which appears in bold). Successful bids will receive guidance from the editorial team at LWD.

Here are some proposals in the pipeline, based on news stories this week [May 21st-May 28th, 2011]:

[1] Oprah Winfrey’s Secret
Oprah bows out from her show as America’s ‘second First Lady’. What was the secret to her phenomenal success?
USA Today story here

[2] Sarah Palin: The Undefeated
Sarah Palin steps up her Presidential campaign with a two hour film depicting her as Joan of Arc. We test the film and the candidate’s leadership style and credentials.
Guardian article here

[3]”The Evil That Men Do…”
Mladic captured and faces war crimes tribunal. Cn the notion of evil be explained the same way as that of charisma or the Hitler paradox?

[4]Simon Cowell shows ‘Presidential Envy’.
What motives successful people to the symbols of power? Simon Cowell wants President Obama’s Limo

[5] Adele named most powerful person in British music: why?

[6] “No divorce please, we’re from Malta”
Church in Malta is ‘confident’ priests will not use pulpit to influence vote on voting day for legalizing divorce
[7] Burberry flourishes through Angela Arhendts’ leadership
Photo from

Timid format blunts Biden versus Palin debate

October 3, 2008

A timid format blunts a potentially significant debate between the vice-presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Each candidate provided a well-rehearsed performance. Governor Palin, with more to lose, was in that sense the winner. The American electorate was the biggest loser

The vice-presidential debate promised to be more interesting than the Obama McCain exchanges. The combatants had not honed their arguments for months on the campaign trail. Sarah Palin appeared more on trial while remaining interesting, and for many Americans ‘more like us …‘not like a politician’.

After a dream start, Ms Palin had lost ground in the polls

Prior to the debate concerns had begun to emerge about her being a possible liability. A story about her personal finances was an added unwelcome distraction

Backdrop to the debate

The back drop to the run-in of the presidential campaign has been the financial crisis, started in America, but the toxicity from which has spread contagiously around the world far beyond financial institutions.

The world watched anxiously as President Bush’s rescue plan was defeated in the House of Representatives. The two presidential candidates were sucked into the political maelstrom, to no great advantage for either. As the one and only vice-Presidential debate started, renewed attempts to rescue the bail-out plan were going on [October 2nd 2008].

An echo of British Politics

The debate anticipated a theme heard these last two weeks in British Politics. During the annual party conferencs, The vastly experienced Gordon Brown landed one of his few telling blows on his rival David Cameron. This is no time for electing a novice, he said. Cameron responded well, but was forced to spend more time than he would have liked defending the charge.

Palin on trial

In this respect the folksy but inexperienced Palin was seen as far more under trial than the experinced Biden. Her recent performances combined with McCain’s age made the debate all the more significant.

What did the debate reveal?

Disappointing little. The format was depressingly structured to avoid putting the candidates to the test. There were no unexpected supplementary questions that might had taken a candidate out of rehearsal mode. So Biden’s reputation for over-egging a case was concealed. Palin’s vulnerability under close questioning was also concealed.

Video clips of the debate reveal that Biden avoided patronising Palin. Palin avoided sounding vacuous.

At a time when the electorate needed more information about the leadership potential of the democratic and republican Presidential teams they learned precious little. It was an opportunity missed.

The only consolation is that at least one famous Presidential election in the USA was believed to have been won and lost because of the physical apperance of the candidates on television.

The uncharismatic (and apparently unshaven and sweaty) Richard Nixon lost out irretrievably to the glamor of John Kennedy. Maybe the stakes today are too high for either party to risk the Presidency being decided on a brief televised beauty contest.