Political leadership
: character and performance. A comparative analysis of British political leadership, 1997-2010.

  • Amarjit Lahel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Classical and contemporary scholarship on leadership has referred to political
performance and the ability of political actors to deploy the self to political purpose. Literature on contemporary British politics (Hennessy, 2001; Marquand, 2008, King, 2009) has highlighted the qualitative shift in political leadership from the mid-1990s towards a focus upon the image, style, celebrity and performance of political leaders, and the shift towards the presidentialisation or semi-presidentialisation of the prime minister (Foley, 2001). However, the literature has lacked a focus upon political performance and a methodology for assessing leadership performance within cultural and institutional contexts. This thesis assesses British political leadership performance from 1997-2010 through the proposal of a framework of political performance to suit comparative purpose. The framework consisting of culture, institutions and performance is used to assess the performance of the case studies (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, and Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the televised Leaders’ Debates of 2010). The application of the framework to the case studies will allow us to a) analyse political performance within given cultural and institutional contexts; b) establish the character traits and other aspects of a politician’s political persona; and c) appraise the role and effects of performance and persona upon the political process.
Date of Award28 Jun 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Gaffney (Supervisor)


  • Tony Blair
  • Gordon Brown
  • David Cameron
  • Nick Clegg
  • leaders’ debate

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