Who was the most successful Labour party leader of all time? And who was the worst? If we were to just count general election victories Harold Wilson comes top with four victories. But does this tell the whole story?
The University of East Anglia, Queen Mary University of London and the PSA Political Leadership group hosted an event to address these questions. The project involved leading biographers and experts on each of the Labour party leaders speaking at an event held at the University of East Anglia’s London Campus near Liverpool Street on Saturday 28th June 2014. Contributions from these talks will then form part of an edited collection which will be published in 2015 with Biteback.
To kick-off the discussion Toby James gave an introductory talk setting out a framework for evaluating leaders based on academic work recently published in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations. This suggests that we can assess leaders by looking at how successful they were in winning office, or moving their party towards the goal of winning of office during their tenure. It also suggests that it is helpful to think about five key tasks that leaders need to achieve to win elections: developing a winning electoral strategy, a sense of governing competence amongst the electorate, party management, winning the battle of ideas on key policy issues and constitutional management. Rt. Hon Charles Clarke has undertaken a simple statistical analysis of general election performance of the Labour leaders since Keir Hardie and he presented the conclusions in the form of a ‘league table’. Baroness Patricia Hollis will chair some of the sessions and provide the closing remarks for the day.
The author of the biography of each Labour Labour to have fought a general election then presented their analysis.
Gordon Brown – Steve Richards. Columnist for The Independent, presenter of BBC’s Week in Westminster and author of Whatever it takes The definitive account of New Labour’s rise and fall.
Download the Labour Leaders Programme.
A second event on Conservative Leaders followed later in 2014.
UEA London is located at 102 Middlesex St, London E1 7EZ – marked at ‘A’ on map below: