Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Ten Qualities of a Good Prime Minister

In his profile of Tony Blair in GQ, Matthew D'Ancona says this...

[Blair] has told allies that you need ten qualities to be a good Prime Minister but Brown only has six.
This set me to speculate on what those ten qualities might be. Here's my list.

1. Decisiveness
2. Conviction
3. Understanding the motivations of Middle England
4. Being a good negotiator
5. Being a good conciliator
6. Having a good TV presence
7. Being a good parliamentary performer
8. Having a thick skin
9. Being able to cut through civil service bullshit
10. Having a non political hinterland


I've shown you my list, now show me yours. What have I missed out?

50 comments:

Man in a Shed said...

Lets add the shamelessness to go and beg for money in the middle east to enslave your population to debt just to get re-elected.

Mitch said...

I make browns count zero from that list.

King Athelstan said...

Number 8 is the only one You can apply to Jocky. His remark to Cameron at PMQs was disgusting, despicable,demeaning of the office of Prime Minister and set a new low in British politics, Its not that I dont respect Him as a Prime Minister, I do not respect Him as a human being.

Mostly Ordinary said...

Actually having experience of not being a politician.

Newmania said...

Be Lucky

Mark said...

Being able to delegate

Paul Pinfield said...

How about...

1. Not lying to the public
2. Taking responsibility for your actions

BTW, Captcha word is cright. Conservative Right?

dalesman said...

Morals; and the ability to empathise.

gadfly said...

No one put it better than Dwight Eisenhower when he said that the qualities of a great man are "vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character".
The other, more specific, qualities that you require are, I reckon, just spin-offs of the above.

Pete Chown said...

Ethics?

On second thoughts, if Blair was implying that he possessed all ten qualities, better forget ethics...

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, I realise this is your list, not Bliar’s, but this is my application of your list to Brown :

1. INDecisiveness
2. Conviction - more like delusion
3. Understanding the motivations of Middle England, so he can screw us
4. Being a good negotiator - of imagined Granita pacts only
5. Being a good conciliator - hahahahahahaha
6. Having a good TV presence - only when it is off
7. Being a good parliamentary performer - if being able to endlessly repeat your invented tractor production statistics cold qualifies, yes
8. Having a thick skin - outgoing none, incoming 100 % to any sense
9. Being able to cut through civil service bullshit - so he can quintuple it
10. Having a non political hinterland - does a broken moral compass qualify ?

Alan Douglas
Word Verification : sphorrig - defined as the condition a compulsive and deluded Scots politician gets into when promoted way above his ability.

Arkangel said...

Funny, you didn't mention 'truthfulness'.
Perhaps I'm just being hopeful!

Anonymous said...

Is being a convincing liar actually a requirement? (Cf the old description of a diplomat).

Dave said...

Understanding not everyone lives or aspires to live in Middle England

Victor, NW Kent said...

Having a non-political hinterland? That is just the sort of polispeak which turns people off politicians. If it has any meaning it passed me by and I am not politically naive.
Integrity would be at the top of my list. And in second and third places.

david kendrick said...

The key quality: surround yourself with able people/winners.

strapworld said...

O that we had the civil service of old!

I am afraid that the Conservatives, should they ever get elected, will have a very difficult job now that the civil service has been a paid up member of the New Labour Project for ten years!

As for Qualities.

Honesty, Truthfulness and the ability to understand the people would be paramount, sadly such qualities cannot be described of any of our modern day politicians.

Auntie Flo' said...

I don't see accountability on your list.

All PMs should grasp this: that the public are politician's masters, not their servants. Cameron clearly has, whereas Blair and Brown see themselves as unaccountable, elitist, authoritarian overlords.

Auntie Flo' said...

Re: accountability:

Watch Miliband raise his two fingers either side of his head and shake them like a Victorian headmaster or poor law Beadle and there's no doubt which side of the accountablity fence he really comes down on, despite all his claims to the contrary and to be a lover of democracy.

What a font of covert authoritarianism Miliband is. All of his non-verbal signalling - the gestures and body language where we give our real game away, no matter how hard we try to conceal it - speak of only two things:

Power and Money.

Watch his Primrose Hill Mob pal, that cologned cloud of self delight, Purrrrrnell, as his lispy mouth twists in anger when an interviewer ask a real question and he's another with no respect for accountability.

Though, following Purrrnell's latest in a long list of cock ups - losing ministerial papers on a train - his goods are surely too damaged for even ministerial responsiblity.

Anonymous said...

Well if you're a sun reader, what you want is a PM with big tits.

(With apologies to Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn)

Anonymous said...

In furthering the Socialist dream of helping the poor etc, then why not raise THEM up to a better standard rather than impoverishing the rest of us down to their level?

Or is it all part of a 1984-esquemaster plan to dumb & numb everyone down to stooge level where we no longer have individuality, only subservience and compliance to Big Brother? Considering the surveillance/RIPA powers (ab)used by councils/upside down justice against yobs and the like /bloody ooomin rights of the aforesaid yobs over those of the law-abiding/databases of everyone.... seems like we are more than halfway there!

So, I guess McBroon's missing qualitities are protection of the law-abiding against the feral, protection of the freedom and privacy of the individual, protection of ancient laws which have served well for centuries, an ability to stop giggling inappropriately with a rictus grin... I think most of us could come up with several hundred missing qualities!!

However, the biggest missing quality - integrity - which is missing from his 'personality' can be summed up in one word - MANDY!

Paddy Briggs said...

Wouldn't having an ideological base feature somewhere? You know the old fashioned idea that you have to believe in something. That's not the same as "conviction" which is more about strength of purpose. The reason that Gordon Brown is so much better than Blair and so far ahead of Cameron is that he has genuine ideological values. So did Thatcher and Atlee and to an extent Callaghan. Blair, Macmillan, Major, Wilson, Home, Eden were political pragmatists for whom the pursuit of power was all they really cared about. Cameron is the same. Ideology light.

neil craig said...

I'm not sure that even if Blair thinks he has #2 "conviction" he would think it a necessary condition. He clearly admires Clinton who cannot reasonably be accused of it. I suspect he would put "personal charm" or "salesmanship" in its place.

Arkangel said...

Good point from Victor, NW Kent.

Tell us dear boy, WTF does having a non-political hinterland mean?

randy peoples said...

10. Having a non political hinterland.

Does that mean having a bunch of idiots who would vote you in again even if your name was McHitler?

cabalamat said...

1. understanding the problems facing Britain, both domestically and internationally.

2. having solutions for those problems.

But of course this is silly. It's much more important that the government appears to be doing something about the nation's problems than it is to actually solve them. So for example, as long as the government manages to persuade people that crime is going down, or the recession isn't their fault, it doesn't matter if the government can't actually fix those issues.

Yes, Minister was right: prime ministers measure their success in column inches and how big their majority is. So a good PM needs just one quality:

1. to be a good bullshitter.

Anonymous said...

How about honesty and integrity!

Alcuin said...

What have I missed out?

Decisiveness is the wrong word. Hitler was decisive, extremely so. If the decisions are wrong, this is far from being a virtue. The quality of decisiveness is best shown by W.B.Yeats: The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

I am amazed that no one, particularly Iain, has picked the most important virtue of all: judgement. Political correctness seems to have so addled current discourse with its disdain for being "judgemental", that the value of this most important quality is not appreciated.

Alcuin said...

I have just gone through Iain's list again and am deeply disappointed in it, and that such an astute commentator could have made it. The qualities he enumerates are mostly about politics, i.e. getting and staying elected. If that is what we want in our leaders, then we should put spin at the top.

Have we learned nothing in the last 11 years of spin, financial legerdemain, inability to admit mistakes, sofa government, lack of resignations on failure, lack of evidence based policy trumped too often by socialist dogma? What happened to integrity, honesty, judgement, decency, humility, attention to detail and plain raw ability? If Iain's list is what is appreciated by our electorate, then God help us all.

Anonymous said...

Based on 3 we need a new Leader or at least a Leader.

londrum said...

I add this one: You must be able to remember everything that the Tories did (or didn't do) more than ten years ago -- so you can avoid answering questions at PMQs

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"Hinterland"

David Beckham and Sir Alan Sugar need to get one, Sir Denis Healey has one (according to a recent newspaper report). All to do with intellectual pursuits outside of one vocation and keeping the mind active throughout life.

judith said...

Please alcuin, Iain's got people started on a debate, it's Sunday, he's just come back from a hectic working week in Israel, give the guy a break!

Ron Todd said...

Paddy

Browns ideological values are that the state as represented by himself is more important than the individual. That it is the duty of the common worker to support the great and wise ones that tell us how to live our lifes and to rejoice when he takes more and more tax from us to fund more state snooping and control.

The same ideology that failed in East Germany and is still failing in North Korea.

Alex said...

"vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character".

Calvin Coolidge would have added "persistance".

Laurence Boyce said...

You've omitted the most important quality of all - honesty. Says it all that we just don't seem to expect that any more.

Another Day said...

It seems that Gordon Brown thinks that 'hope' is a quality a Prime Minister must have. He seems to be hoping on a lot at the moment...

Today he's hoping the Gulf States bail out the IMF. Then he will be hoping the IMF will bail out the UK.

Iain Dale said...

Laurence, call me old fashioned, but I take that as read.

workrobotwork said...

How about being elected? Preferably by the people but failing that by your own party.

neil craig said...

My reading of this was not so much what qualities a good PM needs as what qualities Blair would believe a good PM needs.

Thatcher was notoriously short of a hinterland whci may have done her electroal harm but didn't make her worse at the job.

hatfield girl said...

workrobotwork @ 4.55pm has it.

Being elected.

Post-democratic governance is so unhelpful.

Colin said...

As I've said before, the three main constituencies of the left are: The Thick, The Naive and The Evil...

I take it that "the non-political hinterland" refers to The Thick?

JPT said...

Be able to start an unjust and illegal war with no conscience?

Little Black Sambo said...

I agree that a conviction should certainly be on the list.

john miller said...

It's obviously rubbish because Blair hasn't got the attention span to count to ten.

Anonymous said...

What about understanding the motivations of middle Scotland / Wales / Northern Ireland?

Donkey Kong said...

Tony Blair had around three of those ten qualities. Macavity doesn't have any of them. God help us.

kinglear said...

Brown only has 6? I can only see one and that isn,t very nice.

ruth kelly's plaything said...

Iain Dale said... (writing of Laurence's suggestion of 'honesty'):
Laurence, call me old fashioned, but I take that as read.

November 02, 2008 4:44 PM

***************

C'mon, Iain! What in the last decade gave you the idea that honesty can be taken as read? Persistent lying is now the norm. As I'm sure you noticed.

Could we have 'integrity', please?

Roxanna said...

"The very best President is he who does not want to be President."

Such a person will not lie, cheat, or make false promises but generally look out for the best interests of other citizens. They have no ulterior motives.