Mandelson, Clarke, Sandys and Huppert debate with historians and political scientists at Churchill College Leadership Symposium

20th November 2015

Over 300 people enjoyed a lively political leadership symposium at Churchill College on Friday 13 November.

The Challenge of Political Leadership symposium saw contributions from Former Home Secretary The Right Honourable Charles Clarke, The Right Honourable Lord Mandelson, former Conservative M.P. Laura Sandys and Julian Huppert, former Cambridge Liberal Democrat M.P. and was initiated by Churchill College, The Churchill Archives Centre and The Møller Centre to explore the challenge of understanding, assessing and improving political leadership.

Three panel sessions were held against the backdrop of a unique analytical framework for political leadership, featured in a new series of books on British Political Party Leaders co-edited by Charles Clarke. The framework focuses on the attributes and achievements of all UK political party leaders in the context of their respective time and diplomatic landscape.

Gillian Secrett, CEO of The Møller Centre at Churchill College explained;

“In a wide-ranging debate with a high level of audience participation, both in person and on Twitter (#PLChurchill) there was an understanding and appreciation that political leaders are faced with challenging times: austerity, rising nationalism, fear of terrorism and immigration, and there are clearly sections of the public that are apathetic at best, hostile at worst, to the political class. It was clear that traditional party loyalties are being tested, new technology is mobilising people in different ways and at an ever faster pace, and the emphasis often seems placed as much on style of leadership as substance.”

The event highlighted that Churchill College and The Churchill Archives Centre are not just a physical resource for the study of modern political leadership, but parts of an institution which exists to engage with the leaders of today and to educate and inspire those of tomorrow. Leadership development is an area in which the Møller Centre has created a very specific and forward-thinking role with investment in a unique young leaders programme and the appointment of Professor Georgia Sorenson, founder of the US-based James MacGregor Burns Leadership Academy as our Leadership Scholar. When Churchill founded Churchill College he joked that he was pleased because it would put him alongside the Trinity. But the real trinity, at least for the study of leadership, is the unique juxtaposition of Churchill College, The Møller Centre and the Churchill Archives Centre, and today’s symposium highlighted how we can support the understanding and development of leadership practice with impact.”

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Photo credit: Graham Wiltshire

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