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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2015

Edward Heath: The Failed Leadership of an Uninspiring Leader


The question of leadership in contemporary Western democracies is a fascinating subject for the historian as it explores the emergence of a man or woman inside a party and the unique relationship he or she builds with the people. Leadership is commonly associated to Max Weber’s theory of ‘charismatic leadership’ (Weber, 1995) and according to the French philosopher Jean-Claude Monod there is a persistence of the politics of charisma in contemporary democracies. (Monod, 2012: 58) Thus, leadership seems to be essentially construed around positive notions of power, success, domination and authority. Yet there exist other forms of leadership worthy of analytical exploration and the rationale of this article will be the failed leadership of the British Prime Minister Edward Heath. Edward Heath was leader of the Conservative party for ten years, Prime Minister for four years and member of parliament for nearly 50 years. Yet, today few people remember Edward Heath. The Conservative pantheon is inhabited by the great and imposing figures of Churchill, Macmillan or Thatcher but Heath has completely disappeared from the Conservative memory. At the heart of this exclusion lies the utter and complete disaster of his years in power. Yet, Heath was certainly a pioneer in many domains. He was the man who first talked of a devolved assembly in Scotland, the man who had Britain join the European Union in 1973, the man who launched a comprehensive reform of trade unions well before Margaret Thatcher. But history only retains his failures and broken promises.
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hal-02867676 , version 1 (15-06-2020)



Laetitia Langlois. Edward Heath: The Failed Leadership of an Uninspiring Leader. Agnès Alexandre-Collier; François Vergniolle de Chantal. Leadership and Uncertainty Management in Politics: Leaders, Followers ans Constraints in Western Democracies, 1, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.230-248, 2015, Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership Series, 978-1-137-43924-6. ⟨10.1057/9781137439246_15⟩. ⟨hal-02867676⟩
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