The Best Leaders We Never Had

204 TUTOR: Max Stafford (PhD)

This course explores the 'could-have-beens' of history. Certain people seem set to be their nation's leader only to fall short. Tragedy, personal faults and the strange quirks of history all play their part. So, why did these people fail and what might history have been like, if they had succeeded? Case studies will include 'Rab' Butler, Al Gore, John Smith, Job Cohen and Hillary Clinton. This course encourages discussion and all-comers from beginners to those with some knowledge of the subject are welcome.

4 PM
PM course

Course Notes

Monday: The Old Marlburian: RAB Butler

RAB Butler had at least three good opportunities to be both Conservative leader and Prime Minister. However, at each one he either passed over the chance or was turned into the bridesmaid by his party's machine. Was RAB lacking an essential quality to be leader, or was he just unlucky? What might a RAB premiership have looked like? How has history remembered him?

Tuesday: Florida Flop: Al Gore

The votes of just one state stopped Al Gore becoming President in 2000. Instead, George W. Bush won and eight years of Republican administration followed. What stopped Al Gore becoming the most powerful person on earth? Might an Al Gore presidency have been more liberal than Bush's? Is he the best also-ran in US presidential history?

Wednesday: 1994 and All That: John Smith

John Smith was widely expected to win a forthcoming general election when, unexpectedly, he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1994. The result was Tony Blair's election as Labour leader, with a landslide Labour victory three years later. Could Smith have also won a landslide and would this have denied Blair the premiership, in the long-term? Would Smith have been a great reformer or an overly-cautious deliberator? How has history come to remember his legacy?

Thursday: The "Tea-Drinker”: Job Cohen

Job Cohen was a very well-regarded Mayor of Amsterdam (2001-2010). In 2010, he was elected as his party's leader and seemed certain to become the next Dutch Prime Minister. However, his inability to connect with the electorate and criticisms of his less "celebrity” style led to him losing out to the conservative Mark Rutte. If Cohen had succeeded, how would he have gripped the more extreme elements in Dutch politics? Could the great mediator have resolved some of The Netherlands' greatest social problems?

Friday: Lock Her Up? Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump's election victory in 2016 surprised nobody more than Hillary Clinton, the Democrat nominee. A former First Lady, senator and Secretary of State, Clinton was seemingly one of the most experienced nominees to run for the presidency in modern times. However, to certain sections of the electorate, she has proven to be as divisive a figure as Trump himself. Why did Clinton fail in 2008 and 2016? Could Clinton have been a great reforming president? Why do some communities in the USA actively hate her? Does Clinton deserve a favourable reappraisal?

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