Politically Correct by Martin Mitchell - December 16, 2015

Martin Mitchell - Labour councillor for Layton
Martin Mitchell - Labour councillor for Layton
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Leadership styles are key to decision making

David Cameron’s decision to timetable his departure from Downing Street set me thinking about leadership.

Cameron is a prime example of the ‘strong’ leader model. He appears decisive and confident as though he had always expected to be where he is.

It’s not uncommon for ‘strong’ leaders to undertake bullying, as Cameron did recently. By labelling those voting against air strikes on Syria ‘terrorist sympathisers’, he sought to intimidate free spirits within the Tory ranks and make it more difficult for non-politicians to speak out against the Government’s policy.

Most bullying, though, takes place in private. It’s not unknown for local government leaders to shout and swear at local government officers. This frequently leads absolutely nowhere.

Under ‘strong’ leadership public discussion of the leader’s decisions is not encouraged and in extreme cases even private criticism is reckoned beyond the pale.

While ‘strong’ leaders put their friends in positions of power and let it be known loyalty consists of agreeing with them, ‘consensual’ leaders select people for office who have the intellect to put forward opposing points of view, encouraging discussion within and out of their circles.

On becoming President Abraham Lincoln appointed his three fiercest rivals to important cabinet positions.

Jeremy Corbyn gravitates naturally towards the ‘consensual’ model. A problem for Jeremy is that hysterical media coverage is likely to take internal discussion and reflection for weakness.

In local government, however, where the stakes are not so high, it is quite possible to learn on the job and for a leader to develop a contemplative style, working by consensus to achieve a growing authority.

The best leaders, whether ‘consensual’ or ‘strong’, realise their time in office will be limited and determine to enjoy it. They are aware that very soon, like Cameron, like others, like all of us, they will be part of the jetsam and flotsam of history.

Don’t miss out on voting

The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012 imposed a duty on each individual voter to register to vote.

Additionally each individual was required to provide a national insurance number.

The Government’s failure to mount a publicity campaign to advise on the changes meant many voters dropped off the electoral register without knowing it.

In Layton nine per cent fewer voters were registered for the May 2015 General Election than for the May 2014 council by-election.

In some areas the number on the register dropped by more than 30 per cent.

Since voters moving house were particularly likely to disappear from the register and Labour voters are much more inclined to move, the change directly discriminated against Labour.

The stronger an area for Labour, the lesser was the percentage of its citizens able to vote.

The change has been compounded by the decision of the Conservatives to base the review of parliamentary constituencies on the vastly reduced 2015 register.

This decision flies in the face of the Electoral Commission who advised there should be at least a year’s delay to enable efforts to retrieve the missing voters.

Assuming the Conservatives get their way and the new parliamentary boundaries are gerrymandered as they wish, it will be necessary for a Labour MP to receive many more votes than a Tory MP to secure election.

Democracy – Tory style!

Just a small step on the road to fascism.

Blackpool readers wishing to check if they’re on the electoral register can phone 477490.

The web address for anyone wishing to register is www.registertovote.service.gov.uk

True definition of ‘fascism’

The words ‘fascist’ and ‘fascism’ have been bandied about in recent weeks and often used incorrectly.

Sometimes ‘fascism’ is used as shorthand for ‘something we don’t like’ and sometimes as a replacement for ‘intolerance’.

Ingredients of real fascism commonly include: using the apparatus of the state to attack opposition; rigging elections; inhibiting free speech; political violence; security services and other sections of Government being co-opted by the ruling party; some popular support; nationalism; xenophobia or the persecution of minorities; a powerful leader; state control of the media. Italy in the 1920s and 1930s and Germany in the 1930s are the classic models and it seems reasonable to include the Peronist regime in Argentina.

Hilary Benn was surely wrong to equate ISIS with the controllers of a fascist state since diffuse leadership and religious absolutism are not part of the fascist condition.

Heinous they may be, fascist they’re not!