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Two recent standout political performances are worthy of notice. Saatchi & Saatchi Deputy Chairman Richard Hytner and author of Consigleri: Leading from the Shadows wrote in The Huffington Post last week about the performance of former UK Prime Minister and longtime Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and his “stellar performance” in persuading the majority of voters to keep Scotland part of Great Britain.

“At the eleventh hour,” writes Hytner, “Gordon Brown trumped Scotland’s First Minister with authenticity, humility and outstanding oratory…How ironic that those withering in their assessment of Gordon Brown’s performance as Prime Minister were forced to rely heavily on his excellent and impassioned advocacy to see off the SNP. It also supports the idea that a life in leadership transcends title and tenure in a single role. The thought that Gordon Brown’s greatest political triumph may have been won not as Chancellor, nor as Prime Minister, but as an elder statesman without office, should offer lasting hope to leaders throughout all organisations.”

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party was a client of Saatchi London in 2007 and coined the term “Not flash, just Gordon.” Well, that was pretty flash, Gordon.

The other politician turning in a stellar performance is New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who led the National Party to victory with 48% of the popular vote. The election campaign was vicious rather than visionary, with several attempts to tear down the government with “dirty politics” rather than the advancement of progressive policies. Key stood his ground and the electorate delivered a stunning endorsement of his center-right platform. The remarkable thing was that New Zealand has a proportional voting system enabling all voices to have a go at getting representation, and to achieve 48% of the popular vote is unprecedented in world politics. Even more remarkable was that his government increased their voter support after two re-election campaigns. Governments usually go on a slippery slope downwards once in power. Not so John Key. After the result he firmly instructed his party not to indulge in the arrogance of power, to govern in the interests of all citizens, and has embarked on a program of eliminating child poverty in New Zealand.

2 x postscripts: Leading political columnist Jane Clifton has written a long and considered piece on Richard Hytner’s book Consiglieri as it applies to New Zealand politics over the last three decades.

And New Zealand has the best designed government in the world, according to American political commentator Dylan Matthews writing for Vox last week. “The shire has a mighty fine political system,” he jokes. “New Zealand’s parliament is better designed than just about any other developed country government.” Matthews gives 3 reasons for New Zealand having “The world’s best electoral system:” MMP, unicameralism and constitutional monarchy. “MMP (for Mixed Member Proportional representation) discourages the kind of excessive party formation that happens under pure party-list representation, while still ensuring that smaller parties get some say.” Matthews explains that MMP allows democracy to function while the 5% threshold prevents everything getting out of control.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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