THE BLOG
16/09/2015 10:50 BST | Updated 15/09/2016 06:12 BST

The Moment Corbyn Buried New Labour, Cameron's Advisors Blew it

Politicians and the public continue to reel from the shock of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party leader election victory.

It may mean a longer spell in the wilderness for the Labour Party but does Jeremy Corbyn's elevation spell the end of spin? Are we entering a new age of conviction in politics?

By sticking to an uncut Labour Party First Folio (higher taxes for the rich, renationalising the railways and energy companies, opposing the £100bn renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear system) Corbyn has earned the admiration of party members who did not buy the modern day interpretation of Labour delivered by Ed Miliband from his 'Ed Stone' of commitments. According to that production's director Lucy Powell, 'they were never meant to be commitments'. No commitments, no conviction, a thought Powell may wish to adopt as Shadow Secretary of Education, cast in her new role by Corbyn without so much as a casting meeting, let alone an audition.

Ignore his policies - and many will choose to - comrade Corbyn has finally buried New Labour. Where Brown and Miliband failed to break with the Party's immediate past, Corbyn has succeeded in making Tony Blair and New Labour old news. The three times election winner's warning of what damage Corbyn would do to the party served only to fuel Corbyn's dominant share of the vote.

Media training agencies will be feasting on the new boy's first 24 hours. But in what part of their curriculum will Labour's leader feature? Best practice or worst nightmares? Don't fancy answering the question? Don't answer it. Like the sound of that one? Say exactly what's on your mind. Booked for a tv interview but something more interesting has come up? Send someone else. Corbyn shows not a jot of concern about who he is 'reaching out to': 'Here I am, this is what I stand for, take it or leave it.' Not for him the faux dropped 't' in every soundbite to show he is a man of the people. Nor for him the prefacing of every sentence with the exhortation to 'look', Tony Blair's bequest to every wannabe leader across the party divide. 'Look, what we are not saying is' may be removed from the media training manuals even as Conservatives hope that Corbyn consigns his Party to the history books.

The Tories should pause. Having had weeks to prepare for his coronation, Cameron's advisers blew it. Tempted to pop the champagne corks to toast a foregone conclusion in 2020, they chose the other extreme and issued a warning that Corbyn was a threat to national security. How so, if he has no chance of ever winning a general election? What was needed was a dignified welcome to the front bench, followed by a cool-headed dismantling at the dispatch box of the new opposition leader's loopier ideas. Why provide the opposition with an enemy that might just unite its warring factions?

If Cameron needs his advisers to raise their game, so do Corbyn's, now that he has appointed some.

Machiavelli said that,

'the first thing one does to evaluate a ruler's prudence is to look at the men he has around him.'
Corbyn appeared to take this literally, assigning all top jobs to men, until someone on his team pointed out he may need some women, too. With his Shadow Cabinet complete, Corbyn needs to make sure he has robust, healthy relationships with all its key players. They are there to liberate, educate and anchor him, as well as deliver for him, unless Corbyn's Labour is to remain a party of dreamers, not doers.

If they wait to hear what their leader expects of them, Corbyn's consiglieri will miss the moment. Corbyn will be absorbed in the seismic changes to his life that a leadership role demands. Leaders have to create and sustain winning teams, make decisions, accept final accountability. Whilst he adapts to his move from commentary box to dispatch box, Labour's other new leaders will have to step up. Great deputies, advisers, assistants, those who lead from the shadows, take the initiative for driving the relationship with their boss.

How should they proceed to secure mutual trust and respect? For all leaders embarking on a new relationship and for each new member of Corbyn's inner circle on how to run the relationship with their boss, here's some advice:

1. Get your borders in order. At today's TUC Conference Corbyn asserted he would not be "an all-seeing, all-knowing leader". Shadow Cabinet members' first question needs to be, 'what, specifically, do you need to see, and not see, what do you need to know and not know?' Fail to agree the kinds of decisions on which you can have the final say without your leader's approval, and you have no legitimate license to operate.

2. Commit to candid conversation about your working relationship and make it regular. How do I make you feel when I am at my best and worst? How am I helping, when do I irritate you, what can I do differently to make me your dream partner? Answers should be very specific.

3. Put in place arrangements to signal discord and resolve conflict, not just on policy (over which we know there is already abundant disagreement) but over approaches to running the Party. Agree what laundry, if any, you will take to meetings and what should be aired strictly in the privacy of your own launderette.

4. Be generous with each other. Recognition flows both ways. Blair and Brown were unable to show each other good grace. Cameron and Osborne appear to find this easy, both looking more confident as leaders.

5. Avoid the temptation to make mischief. Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham, who wanted the top job, has accepted a position to support his opponent. Burnham must commit to his new leader wholeheartedly. Any sign of a chink in this commitment and mischief will abound. The Shadow Cabinet must disprove the suggestion that the mischief is already well underway.

One ounce of counsel for the Conservatives: if you think the Labour line-up is incapable of creating enduring relationships among themselves, and are destined to self-destruct, leave them to it. Focus on your own policies and on flawless execution. No more silly videos. If, on the other hand, there is a gnawing feeling that they may just be on to something, it's time to engage in serious politics.

Richard Hytner is Adjunct Professor of Marketing, London Business School, and Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. His book, Consiglieri: Leading From The Shadows, was published by Profile Books in the US and the UK in 2014. www.consiglieribook.com