As the UK Conservative Leadership party contest edges towards its conclusion,
the Institute of One World Leadership has taken time to review the campaign
performances of the two contenders for the party crown.
After watching the most recent public interviews of the candidates,
undertaken by the BBC's Andrew Neil, the executive director of the Institute,
Noel Ferguson gave his analysis of the performances and the selection process.
"The appointment of the new leader is similar to the selection of a new
candidate to a new managerial position. Each candidate has to attend a number of
'hustings' or group interviews around the country, and answer the questions from
the audience at each event. From these question, it is up to members to decide
which candidate they want to be their Leader.
This process however lacks objectivity and is based on subjectivity. A robust
appointment process would include setting out selection criteria against which
each candidate could be measured, and which would enable a fair comparison to be
made. Of course, this is absent in this process; it therefore lacks substance.
This lack of substance could not have been more visible than during the
interrogation of Boris Johnston by Andrew Neil. He attempted to evade questions
by prefixing his answers with 'What I think the people want to know is', failing
to address each question directly. An unlikely physique for a boxer, Johnston
sought to dodge each question, choosing instead to use derisory humor against
the interviewer, rather than take the question on the chin.
It wasn't his footwork which saved him, for he put his feet in his
mouth throughout most of the interview, it was instead his ability to sway from
one side to the other. A technique he also uses in policy and decision making.
Johnston demonstrated a failure to focus on detail, could not validate his past
achievements in office and was uncomfortable in an uncomfortable context.
Jeremy Hunt was the opposite of his boxing opponent. Hunt took every question
on the chin and remained upright. He maintained his composure and gave a cool,
unemotional and equally dispassionate performance. Answering each question as if
it were a competency based interview, with predefined criteria. The very thing
the process should be, but sadly for him, of which it is not.
Both candidates displayed they are lacking in Leadership values. If given the
option, I would personally re-advertise for the role. That of course can't
The choice will come down to this. If we placed both candidates into a boxing
ring, which would give the most entertaining performance? The boxer who takes
every punch on the chin, or the boxer who avoids each punch by prancing about?
Without objectivity, people like a show, and so the likelihood is, the swaying
showman will take centre stage at the conclusion of this contest."