Political leadership August 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm

In the wake of Cameron’s historic defeat (which of course is mostly Tony Blair’s fault), Chris Dillow makes a good point: he considers Lyndon Johnson’s political success* and says that it

rested on not so much on them taking the moral high ground – the best that can be said for LBJ’s “moral compass” is that it wasn’t quite as defective as Nixon’s – but on [his] ability to twist arms, and appeal to low motives.

This, Dillow suggests, provides an illuminating contrast with David Cameron:

there’s a tragic aspect to Cameron. He has thought of politics as (by his own lights) a noble venture – as when he pushed through gay marriage and in his desire to stop crimes against humanity. But politics isn’t just that. Sometimes, to win a moral crusade you need immoral means. Leadership isn’t about being like Martin Luther King, but being like Lyndon Johnson.

It isn’t a warming thought, but perhaps he is right.

Update. Tory rebel Sarah Wollaston had a cutting response to Cameron’s attempts at aggression:

It’s not about us being a nation of appeasers or apologists. Britain isn’t just turning its back, we are delivering enormous amounts of humanitarian aid but we just do not feel that humanitarian aid in this instance should come in the form of cruise missiles.

*This is good on LBJ.

One Response to “Political leadership”

  1. Leadership may be the art of getting people to follow you when they don’t have to but ultimately in a republic/democracy affairs of state are a public matter and subject to public scrutiny and debate.

    As far as I can tell David Cameron is so far the only national leader in the free world who has actually put the whole “let’s bomb Syria” thing on the table for public debate. In this case the people of Britain and their representatives have overruled Cameron’s agenda and Cameron has promised to honor that. Good for him.

    Why was it so important before the Iraq war to go through all the proper channels, go through the WMD evidence with a fine toothed comb, get the UN on board, and not, in John Kerry’s very own words, “go it alone” but this time the ends justify the means and it’s OK to use the word “crusade” ??