Kevin Toolis’s piece (Perspective, 29 April) on his play The Confessions of Gordon Brown struck me as curiously old- fashioned in its focus on the “trait theory” of leadership (leaders are taller, better looking and such) – a theory discredited by psychologists more than 30 years ago.
He is possibly on surer ground when he suggests that “kings do matter” – Carl Jung proposed that we are all subject to a greater or lesser degree to the action of archetypes, or innate patterns of behaviour, reflected in images or archetypal figures such as the king or queen, or heroic warrior. But Jung thought we were at risk of being controlled in a negative way by such images, unless we try to make sense of them.
The point about leadership is that today it needs us to channel a different archetype. We don’t need kings and warriors any more, but we do need individuals to make decisions on our behalf who are intellectually competent. Judging from his behaviour, Brown is an intuitive thinking type in Jungian terms, someone who does not suffer fools gladly but is obsessed with getting the right answer and who will drive himself relentlessly to achieve it.
Part of his “failure” as prime minister must lie with his colleagues who were unable to manage these attributes effectively. Leadership these days, when we know so much more about the dangers of totalitarian government, should not be the property of an individual, but of a wider group. In that regard I would agree with Toolis’s final comment that “who we choose as a leader remains a crucial question for all of us”. In other words, we get leaders we deserve, especially if we don’t manage them properly. Gordon Brown’s tragedy is ours, too.
Dr Mary Brown
Kevin Toolis concludes it was Gordon Brown’s “character and fateful indecisiveness” which lay at the heart of his failure as a prime minister, and that is largely true. To those of us who knew him at university, his antics in the car when he railed against a female staffer for letting him meet “that bigoted woman” was the real Gordon Brown.
We tend to judge people by the company they keep and a kitchen cabinet made up of the likes of Balls, Whelan, McBride, Ed Miliband and Shriti Vadera is truly revealing. Yet, Brown’s performance as chancellor was more damaging to the nation than his disastrous premiership and that had little to do with his portrayal as “the weird and gloomy Celt”. His social engineering, “boom and bust” delusions, private pension raids, gold sales, Financial Services Authority and sophistical budget speeches are directly responsible for the mess we are in today.
Dr John Cameron
St Andrews, Fife