Our toxic political system rewards all the wrong traits and produces the worst possible leaders
Who in their right mind would want the job? It is almost certain to end, as Theresa May found, in failure and public execration. To seek to be prime minister today suggests either reckless confidence or an insatiable hunger for power. Perhaps we need a reverse catch-22 in British politics: anyone crazy enough to apply for this post should be disqualified from running.
A few years ago, the psychologist Michelle Roya Rad listed the characteristics of good leadership. Among them were fairness and objectivity; a desire to serve society rather than just yourself; a lack of interest in fame and attention; and resistance to the temptation to hide the truth or make impossible promises. Conversely, a paper in the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy has listed the characteristics of leaders with psychopathic, narcissistic or Machiavellian personalities. These include: a tendency to manipulate others; a preparedness to lie and deceive to achieve your ends; a lack of remorse and sensitivity; and a desire for admiration, attention, prestige and status. Which of these lists, do you think, best describes the people vying to lead the Conservative party?