Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

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


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.

Hide All

John Gaffney is Professor of Politics and Co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University. Contact email:

Amarjit Lahel is a Research Fellow in Politics and International Relations at Aston University. Contact email:

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Atkins (2011), Justifying New Labour Policy (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

J. Corner (2000), ‘Mediated Persona and Political Culture: Dimensions of Structure and Process’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 3(3): 386402.

D. Denver M. Garnett (2012), ‘The Popularity of British Prime Ministers’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(1): 5773.

P. Drake M. Higgins (2012), ‘Lights, Camera, Election: Celebrity, Performance and the 2010 UK General Election Leadership Debates’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 375391.

F. Faucher (2005), Changing Parties: An Anthropology of British Party Conferences (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

A. Finlayson (2002), ‘Elements of the Blairite Image of Leadership’, Parliamentary Affairs, 55(3): 586599.

A. Finlayson (2004), ‘Political Science, Political Ideas and Rhetoric’, Economy and Society, 33(4): 528549.

A. Finlayson (2007), ‘From Beliefs to Arguments: Interpretive Methodology and Rhetorical Political Analysis’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9(4): 545563.

J. Gaffney (2001), ‘Imagined Relationships: Political Leadership in Contemporary Democracies’, Parliamentary Affairs, 54(1): 120133.

R. Heffernan (2005), ‘Exploring (and Explaining) the British Prime Minister’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 7(4): 605620.

R. Jobson M. Wickham-Jones (2010), ‘Gripped by the Past: Nostalgia and the 2010 Labour Party Leadership Contest’, British Politics, 5(4): 525548.

R. Lynch (2010), ‘It's Funny Because we Think it's True: Laughter is Augmented by Implicit Preferences’, Evolution and Human Behavior, 31: 141148.

R. Pettitt (2012), ‘Me, Myself and I: Self Referencing in Labour Party Conference Leaders’ Speeches’, British Politics, 7(1): 111134.

J. Street (2004), ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6(4): 435452.

J. Street (2012), ‘Do Celebrity Politics and Celebrity Politicians Matter?’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 346356.

R. Toye (2011), ‘The Rhetorical Premiership: A New Perspective on Prime Ministerial Power Since 1945’, Parliamentary History, 30(2): 175192.

M. Wheeler (2012), ‘The Democratic Worth of Celebrity Politics in an Era of Late Modernity’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(3): 407422.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 87 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 378 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.