The BBC news reporter was interviewing a woman about the upcoming general election and she said she would not vote for Corbyn because he had ‘no charisma’.
It’s a sentiment I’ve heard before, of course but this time it suddenly struck me what an extraordinary thing it was to say.
I don’t agree with that woman’s opinion – I don’t suppose for one moment that a man with no charisma could win landslide victories in two leadership elections and then go on to increase the Labour Party membership by more than double, making it the largest political party in Europe. Maybe that lady has not seen footage of his rallies. Corbyn is pulling in crowds of thousands.
But I digress. How extraordinary is it that charisma should be considered the most important asset in a politician? I would have thought experience and competence should carry more weight. Surely his ability to do the job is the most important thing here.
If charisma is what makes a good politician, why don’t we just elect film stars and talk show hosts?
There have, of course, been great charismatic leaders in the past – Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, to name but a few. And right now we seem to have more than our share springing up throughout the world – Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-Un. Yet, somehow, I am not reassured by their charisma. It seems to me that too much charisma breeds a desire to start wars rather than a desire to make the world a better place for the people who elected you.
Personally, I’d rather my leader spent the budget on health care, housing and education than on nuclear bombs. I’d rather my sons live to collect their pensions than that they should die gloriously in battle.
But if charisma is what you want, by all means vote for May. I’ll see you in the fallout shelter.
About Jenny Twist
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant (she was The Lovely Tanya), she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history, at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, knitting and attempting to do fiendishly difficult logic puzzles.
She has written three novels - Domingo’s Angel – a love story set in Franco’s Spain and harking back to the Spanish Civil War and beyond - and All in the Mind – a contemporary novel about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger and The Owl Goddess.
She has contributed short stories to many other anthologies, of which two –Doppelganger and Uncle Vernon have been released as short ebooks.
Other works include the Mantequero series: novellas about a Spanish mythological figure, and An Open Letter to Stephen King & Other Essays, a compilation of non-fiction essays and articles. Her latest novella, The Minstrel Boy, was published in the anthology Letters from Europe in 2016.