Political Leaders: Five Intimate Portraits

161 TUTOR: Max Stafford (PhD)

This course examines five leadership case studies and seeks to answer the age-old question of what makes a great leader? Humans have obsessed over this question for millennia and yet the debate rages on. Based in more modern history, each day of the course will examine a different leader. It then draws upon these examples to seek to answer the bigger questions. Are there models for successful leadership? Do we selectively ignore the 'bad bits' about leaders we admire? Does history provide lessons for our leaders today? Discussion is encouraged and all-comers are welcome.

1 AM
AM course

Course Notes

Monday: A Pretty Straight Sort of Guy: Tony Blair (1997-2007)

Even in these turbulent times, few political figures evoke more emotive reactions than Tony Blair. To some, he is a great reformer who started significant devolution, brought peace to Northern Ireland and oversaw major social reform. To others, he is a foreign policy hawk who took the country into inadvisable interventions and came to symbolise a much-distrusted establishment. Is it too early to judge Blair's record or is he "fair game” for the political investigator?

Tuesday: Cautious Moderator: Angela Merkel (2005-)

In the modern era, few politicians have the staying-power of Angela Merkel. She has been a consistently cautious leader and, through her chancellorship, has placed herself at the heart of some of Europe's most contentious issues. She will shortly leave office and the historians will begin to play the "legacy” guessing game. However, has she been as successful as her favourable public image suggests? How is she regarded in Germany itself? Will Europe miss her, when she's gone?

Wednesday: From 'Bloody Difficult Woman' to Maybot: Theresa May (2016-2019)

Perennial Tory leadership hopeful, Ken Clarke, famously described May as a 'bloody difficult woman' just before she became Prime Minister, in 2016. Her premiership certainly presented very difficult problems and, ultimately, it ended in a fractious departure (in 2019). How far was May's calling of the 2017 General Election responsible for her subsequent difficulties? Was her personal style lacking in "warmth”? Will her legacy get a more favourable hearing in the long-term?

Thursday: Spill All: Julia Gillard (2010-2013)

In recent years, Australian politics has become notable for the high rate of turnover in its premiership. One of its incumbents, Julia Gillard, took office in a particularly brutal set of circumstances. This precipitated her having an uneasy ride throughout her tenure. Eventually, Australia's first female Prime Minister was thrown out by the man she had herself ousted. Did Gillard succeed in implementing her agenda? Is subsequent coverage of her premiership sexist? Is hers a story of wasted potential.

Friday: 'The Autocrat: Vladimir Putin'

Questions include: Is Putin a dictator? How did Putin come to power? Why does Putin seek to project such a "strong man” and masculinised image? Is he as secure in Russia as his international media image suggests? What is the future for Russia under Putin?

Course Tutor

Max Stafford


About Max

Max is a doctoral researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University. Having previously worked for two former cabinet ministers and advised on a range of political campaigns since 2010, he now teaches subjects including British politics, political leadership and international urban developments. He gained his BA in Politics and Global Studies (First Class) in 2013 and his MA in Managing Contemporary Global Issues (Distinction) in 2015. He brings his professional and practical experience to bear in his teaching, seeking to make sessions engaging and informative. He welcomes all to his courses.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM