by Stephen Tall on March 2, 2008
Susan Kramer has set up a fascinating ‘What if?’ today, with her revelation on the BBC London Politics Show that she wishes she had contested last year’s Liberal Democrat leadership election – as a job-share with one of her fellow female MPs:
I actually feel quite guilty because, you know, we had a leadership election in my political party, and what I should have done, and dammit, I didn’t, was get together with another woman and the two of us put together a joint thing. … I thought about it too late. You look at the job and think ‘Who on Earth wants to give their life to this particular role and give up family?’ Well, we should have done it, as a joint thing, that’s the answer, and set an example.
It’s a fascinating thought – for example, would a Kramer-Goldsworthy ‘dream ticket’ have swept to one side the ambitions of either Nick Clegg (supported by Julia Goldsworthy) or Chris Huhne (supported by Susan Kramer)? It would certainly have transformed the race.
But would it have, could it have, worked? After all, our party has recent history of a job-share in the leadership; and the ‘Two Davids’ model isn’t, I suspect, one which we’d wish to repeat. Now, of course Messrs Owen and Steel were from two distinct, though often overlapping, political traditions: social democracy and liberalism. Susan and her running mate would doubtless have been much more in harmony.
Even so, practical problems would have remained. The macho political media would have been absolutely desperate to drive a wedge between the two leaders, to show how impossible a job-share at the top really is.
And, I have to say, my personal experience of seeing job-shares at the very top of organisations is not wholly positive. Different leadership styles can result in mixed messages. Accountability is not always as clear and transparent as when one person is full-time. Work-load is as often duplicated as shared.
But am I being old-fashioned: is my response that of a bloke without family responsibilities?
Well, here’s your chance to have your say in our new poll: “Do you think a party political leadership can work as a job-share?” Yes or No? See the right-hand column of this page to vote.
Result of last poll:
By a fairly overwhelming 2-1 majority you backed the Parliamentary Party’s stance:
• Yes – 218 (67% of all votes)
• No – 107 (33%)
Total Votes: 325, Poll duration: 26th February – 2nd March