Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation,
Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public
Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

This week has seen yet another opinion poll showing
that voters no longer trust politicians (although their views of their local
MPs were more favourable). Much of this is, I am sure, down to the manipulation of the media pioneered by the New Labour machine. In an era
of uncertainty, voters look to their leaders to lead rather than to
follow the results of focus groups. Empty vessels who parrot inane
platitudes and soundbites are rightly less trusted than those handful
of politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say. And yet
the perception is that the former are in the ascendancy.

Politics is
ultimately about power. The Prime Minister this week reminded the TUC that
doctrinal purity is no substitute for controlling the levers of powers and
being able to enact at least some of the agenda that matters to the TUC and
its members.

Politics is also about hubris. Too often throughout history,
political leaders have remained in office way past their sell by dates
after convincing themselves (and allowing their coterie of advisors
to convince them) that they are indispensable. It happens to third
rate leaders such as Blair and Prescott as well as to great statesmen
such as Churchill and Thatcher. In a nation without formal term
persuading political leaders to leave centre stage is very
difficult indeed.

Much of the reason that political leaders overstay
their welcome arises from their failure to "expand the leadership". Margaret
Thatcher, while surrounding herself with true believers, failed to expand
their leadership to an adequate degree such that the closest to
an ideological heir in 1990 was John Major. Tony Blair likewise does
not have someone in his mould ready to propel forward the
Blairite revolution in a way that he might wish.

Even in volunteer
politics, the leadership must be expanded. Running an
organisation such as a local Conservative Association by way of a clique does
nobody any good in the long run. While that clique may cling onto power for a
few years, in time it will become sufficiently reviled that either the organisation will die or when the clique loses power, few if any of its ideas
and achievements will be preserved or followed through.

The election
of Mark Clarke as National Chairman of Conservative Future is therefore an
excellent opportunity for the leadership to be expanded. Mark’s experience of
living and working overseas and in having had a career outside student
politics will ensure that an overdue fresh perspective is brought to CF.
Because of his age too, it is unlikely that Mark will repeat the errors of
some previous CF leaders who sought to perpetuate a clique at the expense of
involving as many activists as possible and in utilising their talents to
the maximum.

As a consensual man manager and a visionary leader, I
expect Mark Clarke will work with a very large number of activists of all
ages, interests, skill levels and beliefs and that he will exemplify
this week’s Law of the Public Policy Process. Expanding the leadership
and motivating and involving a wide selection of individuals ensures
the greatest level of success for that leadership’s agenda.
In congratulating Mark on his victory, we can also be sure that he
will use his charisma and drive work to the benefit of all younger
activists in the Party and the many younger voters who support our values. It is a truly exciting result for an organisation that, as Ben
Pickering remarked earlier this week, needs to fulfill its potential.


Previous entry in this series: Winners aren’t perfect – they just make less mistakes than their rivals

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