Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-mp689 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-17T18:11:20.769Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Political Performance and Leadership Persona: The UK Labour Party Conference of 2012

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2013

Abstract

This article is a contribution to an emerging scholarship on the role of rhetoric, persona and celebrity, and the effects of performance on the political process. We analyse party leader Ed Miliband at the UK Labour Party Conference in Manchester in 2012. Our analysis identifies how, through performance of ‘himself’ and the beginnings of the deployment of an alternative party narrative centred on ‘One Nation’, Ed Miliband began to revise his ‘received persona’. By using a range of rhetorical and other techniques, Miliband began to adapt the Labour narrative to the ‘personalized political’. The article sets out the theoretical framework for the analysis and returns to the implications for the theory of leadership performance in its conclusion.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Government and Opposition Ltd 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

John Gaffney is Professor of Politics and Co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University. Contact email: j.gaffney@aston.ac.uk.

Amarjit Lahel is a Research Fellow in Politics and International Relations at Aston University. Contact email: a.lahel1@aston.ac.uk.

References

Abrams, F. (1997), ‘Blair: I Think I Am a Pretty Straight Sort of Guy’, The Independent, 17 November, www.independent.co.uk/news/blair-i-think-im-a-pretty-straight-sort-of-guy-1294593.html.Google Scholar
Anderson, B. (1983), Imagined Communities (London: Verso).Google Scholar
Annesley, C. (2013), ‘Men, Women and Gender Equality’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar
Aristotle (1991), The Art of Rhetoric (Harmondsworth: Penguin).Google Scholar
Atkins, J. (2011), Justifying New Labour Policy (Basingstoke: Palgrave).Google Scholar
Austin, J.L. (1976), How to Do Things with Words (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
Bale, T. (2013), ‘One Nation and the Welfare State’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar
Beattie, J. (2012a), ‘Game Changer: Opinion Poll Shows Huge Boost for Ed Miliband after Labour Conference Speech’, Mirror News, 4 October, www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ed-miliband-opinion-poll-labour-1359120Google Scholar
Beattie, J. (2012b), ‘One Nation’, Daily Mirror, 3 October.Google Scholar
Behr, R. (2012), ‘Project “Ed's Charisma”: The Mission to Help Miliband Loosen Up’, New Statesman, 28 September–4 October.Google Scholar
Blond, P. (2013), ‘One Nation and the Conservative Tradition’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar
Cameron, D. (2011), in PMQs, 12 January, www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy14xHBO98c.Google Scholar
Corner, J. (2000), ‘Mediated Persona and Political Culture: Dimensions of Structure and Process’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 3(3): 386402.Google Scholar
Corner, J.Pels, D. (2003) (eds), The Media and the Restyling of Politics (London: Sage).Google Scholar
Cowley, J. (2012), ‘He's Not for Turning’, New Statesman, 7–13 September.Google Scholar
Deedes, H. (2012), Labour Has the Wrong Leader. But Not the Wrong Miliband’, Mail Online, 24 January, www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2091073/Ed-Miliband-Labour-wrong-leader.html#ixzz28nn6K46a.Google Scholar
Denver, D.Garnett, M. (2012), ‘The Popularity of British Prime Ministers’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(1): 5773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drake, P.Higgins, M. (2012), ‘Lights, Camera, Election: Celebrity, Performance and the 2010 UK General Election Leadership Debates’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 375391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dunn, T. (2012), ‘We're Ed-ing in One Direction’, The Sun, 3 October.Google Scholar
Dyer, R. (1998), Stars (London: British Film Institute).Google Scholar
Faucher, F. (2005), Changing Parties: An Anthropology of British Party Conferences (Basingstoke: Palgrave).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finlayson, A. (2002), ‘Elements of the Blairite Image of Leadership’, Parliamentary Affairs, 55(3): 586599.Google Scholar
Finlayson, A. (2004), ‘Political Science, Political Ideas and Rhetoric’, Economy and Society, 33(4): 528549.Google Scholar
Finlayson, A. (2007), ‘From Beliefs to Arguments: Interpretive Methodology and Rhetorical Political Analysis’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9(4): 545563.Google Scholar
Foley, M. (2000), The British Presidency (Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
Freedland, J. (2010), ‘Ed Miliband Won Because he Was Neither Blair Nor Brown’, The Guardian, 25 September, www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/25/ed-miliband-labour-leader-conference.Google Scholar
Gaffney, J. (2001), ‘Imagined Relationships: Political Leadership in Contemporary Democracies’, Parliamentary Affairs, 54(1): 120133.Google Scholar
Gaffney, J. (2013), ‘It's the Singer, not the Song: Understanding Leadership as Performance’, in P. 't Hart and R. Rhodes (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming).Google Scholar
Gaffney, J.Holmes, D. (2011) (eds), Stardom in Postwar France (Oxford: Berghahn).Google Scholar
Garrigues, J. (2012), Les hommes providentiels (Paris: Seuil).Google Scholar
Glasman, M. (2013), ‘One Nation and Blue Labour’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar
Grice, A. (2012), ‘Miliband Seizes Initiative with One Nation Labour’, The Independent, 3 October.Google Scholar
Groves, J.Shipman, T. (2012), ‘Two in Three Labour Voters Want to Ditch Leader Ed Miliband for his Brother David’, Mail Online, 28 September, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2210278/Two-Labour-voters-want-ditch-Ed-Miliband-brother-David.html#ixzz2A2702WPm.Google Scholar
Harman, H. (2012a), ‘Labour Conference: Harriet Harman on Ed Miliband’, BBC News Online, 30 September, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19777308.Google Scholar
Harman, H. (2012b), ‘Harriet Harman: Emboldened Labour Have Fighting Chance’, BBC News Online, 4 October, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19826546.Google Scholar
Hasan, M. (2012), ‘Come on Ed, You Don't Need Tony to Win’, The Blog, Huffington Post UK Online, 11 July, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/come-on-ed-you-dont-need-tony_b_1665129.html.Google Scholar
Heffernan, R. (2005), ‘Exploring (and Explaining) the British Prime Minister’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 7(4): 605620.Google Scholar
Hodges, D. (2011). ‘Refounding Labour Has Changed Nothing – But Tells us a Lot’, The Guardian, 21 September www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/21/refounding-labour-changed-nothing-ed-miliband.Google Scholar
Hoggart, S. (2012), ‘Simon Hoggart's Sketch: Finally he Looked Like the Boss’, The Guardian, 3 October.Google Scholar
Jobson, R. (2013a), ‘Blue Labour and Nostalgia: The Politics of Tradition’, paper presented at Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Cardiff, 25–7 March.Google Scholar
Jobson, R. (2013b), ‘“Waving the Banners of a Bygone Age”: Nostalgia and Labour's Clause IV Controversy, 1959–60’, Contemporary British History, published early online, January, www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13619462.2012.753179.Google Scholar
Jobson, R.Wickham-Jones, M. (2010), ‘Gripped by the Past: Nostalgia and the 2010 Labour Party Leadership Contest’, British Politics, 5(4): 525548.Google Scholar
Johnson, A. (2012), ‘Ed Miliband, Show us you Have What it Takes to be Prime Minister’, The Guardian, 26 September, www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/26/ed-miliband-prime-minister-manchester.Google Scholar
Kavanagh, D. (1996), ‘British Party Conferences’, Government and Opposition, 31(1): 2744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kenny, M. (2013), ‘Labour, England and One Nation’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar
Kite, M. (2010), ‘Ed Miliband: Self-Confessed Maths “Geek” with a Talent for Diplomacy’, The Telegraph, 25 September, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/8025055/Ed-Miliband-Self-confessed-maths-geek-with-a-talent-for-diplomacy.html#.Google Scholar
Kohrs Campbell, K.Hall Jamieson, K. (2008), Presidents Creating the Presidency (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press).Google Scholar
Lahel, A. (2011), ‘Political Leadership: Character and Performance: A Comparative Analysis of British Political Leadership, 1997–2010’, PhD thesis, Aston University.Google Scholar
Landale, J. (2012), ‘Where do Labour Stand after the 2012 Conference?’, BBC News Online, 4 October, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19829503.Google Scholar
Lynch, R. (2010), ‘It's Funny Because we Think it's True: Laughter is Augmented by Implicit Preferences’, Evolution and Human Behavior, 31: 141148.Google Scholar
Marr, A. (2012), The Andrew Marr Show, BBC, broadcast 30 September.Google Scholar
Martin, J. (2013), ‘Situating Speech: A Rhetorical Approach to Political Science’, Political Studies, published online early 15 May.Google Scholar
Miliband, E. (2012), ‘Ed Miliband's Speech to Labour Party Annual Conference 2012’, Labour website, 2 October, www.labour.org.uk/ed-miliband-speech-conf-2012.Google Scholar
Milne, S. (2012), ‘Ed Must Move Further and Faster from New Labour’, The Guardian, 3 October.Google Scholar
Minkin, L. (1980), The Labour Party Conference (Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
Mitchell, D. (2012), ‘Ed Miliband Looks as Gormless as Wallace but in a Totally Different Way’, The Observer, 16 December.Google Scholar
Mulholland, H. (2010), ‘Ed Miliband Defeats Older Brother in Race to be Labour Leader’, The Guardian, 25 September, www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/25/ed-miliband-labour-leader.Google Scholar
Pettitt, R. (2012), ‘Me, Myself and I: Self Referencing in Labour Party Conference Leaders’ Speeches’, British Politics, 7(1): 111134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Provine, R.R. (2000), Laughter. A Scientific Investigation (New York: Penguin).Google Scholar
Richards, S. (2012), ‘Ed's Display of Style – and Substance – Will Worry the Tories’, The Independent, 3 October.Google Scholar
Robinson, C. (2013), ‘Recapturing Labour's Traditions? History, Nostalgia and the Re-Writing of Clause IV’, Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Cardiff, 25–7 March.Google Scholar
Sandel, M. (2012), ‘Labour Conference 2012: A Cerebral Address on Moral Limits of Markets’, The Guardian, 30 September, www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/30/labourconference-2012-markets.Google Scholar
Street, J. (2004), ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6(4): 435452.Google Scholar
Street, J. (2012), ‘Do Celebrity Politics and Celebrity Politicians Matter?’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 346356.Google Scholar
Strick, M., Holland, R.W., van Baaren, R.B.van Knippenberg, A. (2012), ‘Those who Laugh Are Defenceless: How Humour Breaks Resistance to Influence’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18(2): 213223.Google Scholar
Suphi, S. (2012), ‘He's a Real Showman’, Daily Mirror, 3 October.Google Scholar
Toye, R. (2011), ‘The Rhetorical Premiership: A New Perspective on Prime Ministerial Power Since 1945’, Parliamentary History, 30(2): 175192.Google Scholar
Treneman, A. (2012), ‘Geek-tastic Ed Triumphs by Nicking a Tory Mantra’, The Times, 3 October.Google Scholar
Troy, T. (2002), Intellectuals and the American Presidency (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield).Google Scholar
Turner, V. (1967), Forest of Symbols (New York: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
Watson, L. (2012) ‘Finally he Gets it, Gromit! Ed Miliband Admits he Does Look Like Plasticine Film Star Wallace’, Mail Online, 7 June, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2155997/Ed-Miliband-admits-DOES-look-like-Plasticine-film-star-Wallace.html.Google Scholar
Watt, N. (2012), ‘And Now it's Personal: Miliband the Leader Steps into the Limelight’, The Guardian, 3 October.Google Scholar
Wheeler, M. (2012), ‘The Democratic Worth of Celebrity Politics in an Era of Late Modernity’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 407422.Google Scholar
Wickham-Jones, M. (2013a), ‘History, Memory and the Social Democratic Project’, Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Cardiff, 25–7 March.Google Scholar
Wickham-Jones, M. (2013b), ‘The Historical Origins of One Nation Labour’, paper presented at one-day conference, the Politics of One Nation Labour, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.Google Scholar