Statecraft and the Assessment of National Political Leaders : The Case of New Labour and Tony Blair

Buller, Jim; James, Toby (2011)
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This article makes the case for employing the statecraft approach (associated with the late Jim Bulpitt) to assess political leadership in Britain. Rather than ‘importing’ methodologies from the US, as some scholars have done, statecraft is preferred in the UK context for two main reasons. First, statecraft is concerned with the motives and behaviour of leadership cliques, and as a result, it is more appropriate for the collective leadership style that is a characteristic of parliamentary systems such as that in Britain. Second, statecraft goes some way towards incorporating a sense of structural context into our evaluation of leadership performance. This need to take into account the broader institutional constraints facing chief executives is something that an increasing number of academics in this area have been calling for. The utility of the approach is illustrated through a case study of the Blair administration.

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