Arise, Careerless Politician: The Rise of the Professional Party Leader

  title={Arise, Careerless Politician: The Rise of the Professional Party Leader},
  author={Stephen P. Barber},
  pages={23 - 31}
Taking as its starting provocation Philip Cowley's ‘Arise, Novice Leader!’, this article contributes to the discussion of the nature of today's party leaderships. ‘Experience’, even for political office, should be viewed as ‘real-world’ work as much as time served in parliament. By quantifying non-political pre-parliamentary experience of post-war leaderships, I show both that current leaders are relatively ‘careerless’ and that this is not historically unusual. While Cowley's observation is… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

‘Westminster’s wingman’? Shadow chancellor as a strategic and coveted political role

A focal job of Westminster opposition, there is nevertheless a dearth of published analysis on the job of Shadow Chancellor. This article argues that the Shadow Chancellor is distinctive because of

Politicians, professionalization and anti-politics: why we want leaders who act like professionals but are paid like amateurs

Why are politicians so unpopular? One common explanation blames a professionalized political class that is increasingly detached from ‘ordinary citizens’. But, there is very little empirical

Evaluating British prime ministerial performance: David Cameron’s premiership in political time

This article contributes to the developing literature on prime ministerial performance in the United Kingdom by applying a critical reading of Stephen Skowronek’s account of leadership in ‘political

Who joins the party crew? Political staff in the Low Countries

Political staffers are an increasingly relevant area of study due to dropping party membership rates, increasing staff size and the growing prominence of staff positions in political careers.

The further rise of the career politician

Political careers have changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Still, political science research has yet to fully quantify this development. Building on existing literature on career politicians,

Responsive to whom? Political advising and elected careers in institutionalized democracies

Political advising is an increasingly important stepping-stone for a parliamentary career in many advanced democracies. Not only does this trend inform our understanding of political parties and

What Do We Mean When We Talk about the ‘Political Class’?

Recent years have seen an explosion of popular complaint about the British ‘political class’. Within this narrative, the political class is feckless, unrepresentative, immoral and elitist. It rules

What Makes a Good Politician? Reassessing the Criteria Used for Political Recruitment

Certain societal groups are significantly overrepresented within politics, including men, ethnic majority groups, and socioeconomic elites. This has fueled debates regarding meritocracy within

Effects of Party Primaries in German Regional Party Branches

Since the mid-1990s, German parties at the regional level have started to hold party primaries (infrequently) to select their leaders. In recent years, research on primaries has attracted the

Democracy and innovation: from institutions to agency and leadership

Democracies are, by definition, marked by a strong normative commitment to innovation and change, and all democratic regimes must seek to generate innovations both to keep their fundamental promise



Arise, Novice Leader! The Continuing Rise of the Career Politician in Britain

In late 2010 the leaders of the major British political parties were the most inexperienced of the post-war era. This short article discusses this development. It shows how unusual this is, comparing

Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative

The first major biography of the Conservative Party's dynamic - and enigmatic - new leader. David ('Dave') Cameron has recently emerged as the first Tory leader in years to come across as a man of

The Professionalisation of Mps: Refining the ‘Politics-Facilitating’ Explanation

The term ‘politics-facilitating occupation’ is used widely but loosely in the MP recruitment literature. Comparative evidence suggests that this term has a different meaning according to the country,

Gordon Brown as prime minister: Political skills and leadership style

Individual prime ministers’ personalities, leadership styles and political skills matter and make a difference. It is important to develop ways of understanding and analysing the components of

The reputation of the party leader and of the party being led

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the similarity of the reputation of political leaders with those of their parties and to assess the claim of causal links.Design/methodology/approach

Explaining the Forced Exit of Charles Kennedy: Pushing the Public–Private Boundary

The demise of Charles Kennedy as leader of the Liberal Democrats (1999–2006) has generally been understood as an unfortunate consequence of Kennedy's struggle with alcohol dependency. Others have

The Rise of the Career Politician in Britain — And its Consequences

  • A. King
  • History
    British Journal of Political Science
  • 1981
The new British government formed in May 1979 contained a Butler, a Chalker, a Fowler and a Prior. It also, as the whole world knows, contained a Thatcher. It did not, however, contain a single

The Quiet Man of British Politics: the Rise, Fall and Significance of Iain Duncan Smith

This article offers a reappraisal of the performance of Iain Duncan Smith as Conservative Party leader between 2001 and 2003. The rationale for the paper stems from the relative neglect of his

Career Patterns in British Politics: First Choose Your Party…