George Woodhouse
6 min readDec 21, 2019



The next leader of the Labour Party does not have to come from the North or the South, nor should the choice come down to being a man or a woman, black or white, gay or straight. A belief that change in one or more of these attributes will make any difference to their fortunes will probably ensure that they lose again in the next election.

I am not a member of the Labour Party. Traditionally, I have voted Conservative although that has not been the case in recent years; and I have voted for all three main parties over my 50 years of voting. But there is no way I could ever have considered voting for the Tories with Boris Johnson as its leader. His lack of integrity has always been so obvious, and it will be his undoing eventually. Sadly, many people were willing to overlook that fact in the 2019 election, or perhaps felt they had no choice because they wanted to “Get Brexit Done” quickly as BJ promised he would do.

Jeremy Corbyn was to me more of unknown quantity but I could not help thinking that much of the bad publicity he attracted was because he never seemed at ease with himself – or anyone else – and his communication skills were dire.

Jo Swinson probably had the best vision from my point of view and definitely had the most integrity, but her communication skills were also sadly disappointing.

However, despite my non membership, I have a desire for the Labour Party to become again a thrusting vital party that fights for what is good and right, hopefully collaborating with the Liberal Democrats in order to scupper the self-righteous prigs who have become today’s Tory party.

Hence this advice on what is wrong with Labour and what to do about it. It centres, as does the success or otherwise of any group of people, on leadership. I have no intention of trying to analyse in detail why Jeremy Corbyn failed – but simply acknowledge that a large proportion of his own party opposed him and this was magnified hugely in the country.

So where does this seemingly magical and mythical thing called leadership come from? Is it a natural gift we are either born with or, is it something we can learn? First let’s agree what it is not. It is not being a “strong” leader – or as it is more accurately described a “bullying leader”. The so-called strong leader may himself be successful as will his family and close associates, but not the rest of the population that he or she leads.

My measurement of success is contentment, happiness, education and health and wealth of the vast majority – and not just the wealth of the 1%.

There is no doubt in my mind that anyone can become a leader, and that the qualities can be learned. However, some find it much easier than others, and there are many individual characteristics that help to define it.

But the three essential ones, without which no one can become a great leader are:


This is the beginning. The Leader of any political party needs a vision built around the most important needs and the desires of the people, including some they may not recognise.

1.1 PUBLIC SERVICES: A well run, responsive, efficient public health service, education, police and social care, transport and infrastructure etc.

1.2 HOME AFFAIRS: Including rights for workers & consumers, policing and justice with everyone being treated the same under the law.

1.3 INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: To determine our relationship with other countries, our attitudes to immigration and assisting other countries when our help is needed; as well as our membership of various international bodies and the part we might play in them. Effective security and armed forces.

1.4 GLOBAL ISSUES: Consideration and attitudes to improving the environment. Whether we should take a lead role in the formation of the world order or wait for others to do this – or wait for a crisis before we act.

1.5 OTHER MATTERS: There is no end to this list, but it is critical that the listening process covers all the issues that the people regard as important. But this does not exclude the prospective leader from raising issues and having policies on things that he/she may regard as important.

1.6 PRACTICALITIES: But the vision has to be more than promises. The ways and means of achieving them has to be considered as a vital part of making policy. Establishing the economic factors and where the money will come from to pay for these policies. And who will manage them and how they will be managed to good effect. Good management and efficient use of resources are essential if the leader is to be successful because they must appeal to taxpayers who will demand that their hard-earned money is well spent, as well as those who need to make use of the services. Fairness too must be considered. No one likes to pay taxes, but if the system is fair and the money spent wisely fewer will complain.

1.7 CONTENTIOUS DOGMA: Political dogma regarding nationalisation of industries, or barring private education or health services should play minimal part in creating a vision as this will only serve to create divisions in society that are unnecessary and unhelpful.

1.8 ELECTORAL REFORM: Democracy needs to be a fundamental part of our governing process, but too many people have given up on politics. This is not apathy, but anger and frustration at the lack of influence many people feel. The democratic process needs continuous improvement to make it more relevant to everyone, particularly the younger generations.

1.9 MAKE A PLAN: Essentially the plan will be to ensure everyone has the essentials to give them good chances in life, have a sense of self-worth; to raise the taxation needed to achieve this, and by borrowing if necessary, and to manage the resources effectively. Being the 5th most wealthy country in the world has no meaning at all if some of our people are homeless, hungry, cold or uncared for. A country may be at the top of the worlds wealth league but it has no meaning unless this is shared widely over the population as a whole.


2.1. LISTENING AND UNDERSTANDING: Good communication skills are as much about listening and understanding, as they are explaining your own views, and getting your message across. Flexibility in thought and reasoning and changing your views as the world changes are necessary.

2.2. PASSION AND PERSUASION: Your vision has no merit if no one knows about it. So really good communication skills are essential to good leadership. The vision has to be explained and sold to as many as possible. A clear and passionate story will catch the imagination and cause more people to take notice. Some will resist simply for partisan/dogmatic political reasons, but opposing this is the job of the leader – to lead.

2.3. That’s what communication is all about – listening, researching, understanding, changing, explaining and persuading – with passion! If you get this right people will want to listen to you – that has to be the aim!


3.1. NEED FOR REAL DEMOCRACY: Integrity is the most important factor in being an effective leader. Without integrity, having a vision and the most amazing communication skills, will be as nothing without integrity. You can of course get into a leadership role without integrity, and we have seen this happen over the years here and in other countries. This can be due to flawed electoral systems that are outdated and unfit for purpose, such as FPTP and Electoral Colleges which enable a governing body to take power with a smaller vote than the loser – or the seats in government being out of all proportion to the number of votes cast.

3.2. LONG TERM: In the long run of course a lack of integrity will always come to the fore, and the leader who tries to get away with it will fail. Sadly, their failure may not affect them personally – at least not their well-being – but it will affect the millions of people who they want to lead and who voted for them in the belief that their leader meant what he said. And the country will all suffer as a result. So, honesty and openness, and admission of mistakes when something goes wrong. And remember the buck stops at the top!

Effective leadership demands all three of these things. Think about them if you want to become a leader – or when you are voting for one. The last one – integrity – is often the most difficult to be sure of, but is likely to be the most important in the long run.

Be careful how you choose!




George Woodhouse

Not a politician but a highly political animal with very strong views based on fairness, levelling up not down, free health & education but mostly DEMOCRACY!