A leader is nothing without followers

Corbyn shadow cabinet is crucial, says London Business School expert

After a spirited three-month campaign, the wait is over for the Labour hopefuls. Jeremy Corbyn has been announced as the new leader of the Labour Party. But his shadow cabinet and followers more widely, will decide whether he sinks or swims, a London Business School expert claims. 

Richard Hytner, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, London Business School, leadership writer and author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, explains:

“A leader is nothing without followers. How many of those followers who fuelled Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected elevation will stick with the programme? How many detractors will quit the front benches? What kind of party discipline will he be able to instil when his policies have been so roundly dismissed by so many of the party faithful? What kind of immediate circle will he create and depend on for support of his leadership?”

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna is the latest front bencher to resign follow Saturday’s result. He follows Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Rachel Reeves and Tristram Hunt, who have also left the Labour frontbench.

“We have one answer”, Hytner says. “His deputy Tom Watson, fixer, enforcer, experienced deputy (he has been the party’s deputy chairman), has committed to ‘backing his new leader 100%’. Corbyn will need every ounce of Watson’s skill as a second-in-command.”

Watson and Corbyn are not without their differences. Watson was quick to assert a pro-Europe stance and his support for the renewal of Trident, something Corbyn himself has declared against.

But principles are important. Hytner says: “Stand for everything and you stand for nothing. Jeremy Corbyn, the rank outsider in the Labour Party leadership contest won the day, perhaps for no other reason than for demonstrating his conviction. It is his credibility and competence as a leader that will be subjected to intense scrutiny in the coming days."