A follower not a leader?
There are many such rooms in the Buildings. Offices, yes, but steeped in time and the anonymity of history. Many, many such chats and small gatherings had taken place between these four walls and nothing, today, suggested that this would be anything other than simply routine.
“Oh come on, not me – there must be someone else. Look, I’ve been where I am since time began, or so it seems. I am forever out on a limb and, well, I have no following. Hell, I DO the following – it’s just most of those I follow are no longer with us. I so miss Tony – he’d have been your man for this.”
“He had his chance and, now, it’s your turn, your time in the spotlight, if you like. We’ve got to keep our ideas out there, get them discussed, even if we all know you’ll be wiped out in the first round.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure that’s true but, alright, let’s give it our best shot. And you are right – I don’t want to leave this place without nailing my colours firmly to the mast and saying how I fundamentally believe that the last thirty years have been a betrayal of all our predecessors ever stood for and has been letting down of all those generations yet to come”.
“It’s funny, you know, there’s even guys on the right who’ve told me they’ll second your running. They say “Sure I’ll propose him – we need to have a show of competition”. And they go away smirking. Still, it’ll get you on the ballot, and that’s what’s most important”.
And he didn’t act away from his usual self – he changed nothing and simply followed the ideas he was so steeped in. I saw him that same summer. Rank no-hope-er but bringing the discussion out to the country, just as his predecessors would have done but which, now, had come to be regarded as “old hat” and ineffective. Decisions had to be made behind closed doors, taken by people who understood the issues and so could make an informed choice. The four other contestants, relaxed in their own personal merits, attended committees of important supporters and talked to the national media.
So, yes, a few weeks into this campaign, I spotted a two line notice in the local free newspaper, saying he’d speak at a meeting in a seaside hotel six miles away. “Half past five, Wednesday evening, early August”. I decided at once to go – I liked his politics and felt he could do with some support. “I’ll get there fifteen minutes early so’s to get a good seat at the front of the room – not that many will turn up at that time of day and in the summer holidays, too”.
I couldn’t get into the room – four hundred people had beaten me to it. Several friends were there but how come so many others?
The man came into the room and I soon realised exactly why – he was saying, in cool, calm, clear and collected manner that which we were all thinking. As he spoke, he had no difficulty in being heard, there were no hecklers, no disrespect. We all knew, all of a sudden, we had a movement, we had strength. From this could come the changes that we all yearned for.
An hour later he was off, smiling and cheered – en route for more similar gatherings that same evening and many more in the days that followed. And he hadn’t changed at all. Quiet, convicted, unassuming. He followed his instincts, his ideals and his own heroes.
A few weeks later Jeremy won the leadership contest convincingly, moving on, over the next two years to first re-iterate his victory within the party, despite insane backroom backbiting from the reactionary elements and then, in 2017, finally becoming prime minister in the second of the two general elections held that year by the calamitous Conservative Party.
After Cruella’s dismal performance in the first how could they have imagined Boris winning the second! Both were dismal followers, led by their unseen owners, unable to decide any questions as they lacked the internal mechanisms to do so.
Unlike Jeremy who, through a vast accumulation of humility, humanity and reason then led from the broadest foundation – powered by empathic connection. It felt as if we all were the leader and we led him as much as he us.
Perhaps we had, at last, achieved true democracy……..
The above was written to topic of “I’m a follower, not a leader” set by Colwyn Writers’ Circle, for Saturday June 24th, 2017.
June 22nd, 2017.