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The Leadership Capital IndexA New Perspective on Political Leadership$
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Mark Bennister, Ben Worthy, and Paul 't Hart

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198783848.001.0001

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Limits to Dominance?

Limits to Dominance?

Comparing the Leadership Capital of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair

(p.121) Chapter 7 Limits to Dominance?
The Leadership Capital Index
Mark Bennister, Ben Worthy
Oxford University Press

This chapter compares the leadership capital of two long-serving UK prime ministers: Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, treble election winners who held office for a decade. Mapping their capital over time reveals two very different patterns. Thatcher began with low levels of capital, building to a mid-term high and final fragile dominance, though her capital fell between elections. Blair possessed very high levels from the outset that gradually declined in a more conventional pattern. Both benefited from electoral dominance and a divided opposition, Thatcher’s strength lay in her policy vision while Blair’s stemmed from his popularity and communication skills. The LCI reveals that both prime ministers were successful without being popular, sustained in office by the electoral system. Towards the end of their tenures, both leaders’ continued dominance masked fragility, ousted when unrest in their parties and policy unpopularity eroded their capital.

Keywords:   UK, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, prime ministers, popularity, party leadership

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