Why repeated U-turns are actually a sign of real strength, and not a direct indicator of a weak and inept leader, by Liz Truss

author avatar by 2 years ago

Something I’ve learned in my time as prime minister is that leading a country takes a number of skills, some of which are not easily recognised by the voting public.

If there is one thing children - and voters - value, it's having a leader who will change their mind if you shout loudly enough that you didn't like their decision.

As millions of parents will understand, it takes real strength to change your mind so completely this soon after making an unpopular decision, but in reality, it actually makes your position much stronger.

Any parent will tell you, sometimes, for the good of your children, you need to introduce a few unpopular measures. Whether those measures be a change to their pocket money, the introduction of new chores, or just a new rule you’re going to be giving all of their pocket money to the rich kids on the other side of town from next April.

These measures might in fact meet with resistance. There may be tantrums. Maybe your children will tell you that hate you and that they wish they had never been born. This is good, because this is your opportunity to demonstrate real strength, and earn their respect in the process.

If there is one thing children – and voters – value, it’s having a leader that will change their mind if you shout loudly enough that you didn’t like their decision. Nothing will make your life easier in future than demonstrating a willingness to flip-flop if people complain enough.

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Say goodbye to childhood tantrums, because once a child knows that a parent will change their mind in the face of a little resistance to their insane plans, that child will understand their parent has true strength. Just like the voters know that their leader is strong and decisive and that there is no need to resist in future.

History is littered with excellent examples of great leaders making significant and high-profile u-turns after big decisions, I just can’t think of any right now. I can, however, give you an excellent example of a leader who didn’t u-turn, and led everyone to disaster. The Captain of the Titanic. That’s right, had he u-turned instead of ploughing straight into that iceberg, thousands of lives would have been saved.

If the Captain of the Titanic had changed course and arrived a little late in the United States, would the media have criticised him for being a weak leader who changes his mind like the wind? Of course it would – that is the fickle nature of the mainstream media, and why instead of writing this in the Telegraph or The Times, I’m writing it in a place I know you will be able to read my own unfiltered words, from my own mouth, typed diligently by whichever intern this is.

Of course, if the Captain of the Titanic tried to u-turn after striking the iceberg and the effects of his disastrous decision were already being suffered by everyone around him, then it probably wouldn’t have worked – but hey, no analogy is perfect. The important takeaway here is that my latest u-turn is actually a sign of strength, a sign of strength that I am willing to repeat – on demand – to meet the needs of the nation that chose me to be their prime minister.

Well, to meet the needs of the 81,000 thousand Conservative party members who chose me to be the nation’s prime minister.

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