Going On and On? Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher: Leadership Capital Compared
25 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2015 Last revised: 3 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 29, 2015
We define Leadership Capital as the aggregate authority composed of three dimensions: skills, relations and reputation of a leader (Bennister, ‘t Hart and Worthy 2015). The Leader Capital Index builds on other approaches to create a diagnostic ‘checklist’ tool for assessing a political leader’s ‘stock’ of authority. This paper applies the Leadership Capital Index to two of the most dominant 20th century British prime ministers, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher at 3 key points in their tenure. The LCI shows that Thatcher’s and Blair’s trajectory is more nuanced and interesting than conventional understandings of them as almost wholly ‘dominant’ leaders.
The comparison offers a clear contrast in the overall trajectory of authority. Thatcher swung from weak (but apparently survivable) capital to dominance and back to a different kind of weakness. Blair moved from huge (unspent) credit to steep loss and then a less mentioned partial regain. The analysis underscores the contingent and limited nature of prime ministerial predominance.
Keywords: Leadership Capital, Prime Ministers, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair
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