Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

What makes an effective Leader of the Opposition?

02 October 2015 | Victoria McGuire

As Jeremy Corbyn takes over, a new paper by Leeds University considers what he needs to succeed in opposition.

A team of POLIS academics have produced a report offering an insight into what makes for an effective Leader of the Opposition. Dr Timothy Heppell, Dr David Seawright and Professor Kevin Theakston of the Centre for British Government produced the report in association with the Centre of Opposition.

The paper considers examples from post-war British politics of effective (and ineffective) opposition leadership and highlights the importance of effective political skills, such as, initiating and implementing policy change, policy management, public communication and emotional intelligence. The report acknowledges factors beyond the Opposition Leaders' control may hinder their effectiveness.

The report opens:

"The position of Leader of the Opposition has been described as the worst job in politics. An effective Leader of the Opposition is seen by the electorate as a potential Prime Minister in waiting. Thus effectiveness is about regaining power. However, their ability to regain power is dependent upon the interaction between their political skills and the political circumstances that they face. As the Labour Party elects their new leader, this report considers examples from post-war British politics of effective (and ineffective) opposition leadership."

Find out more and download the full 'What makes an effective Leader of the Opposition?' publication here.

The Centre for Opposition Studies is an independent, cross-party research organisation dedicated to the study of political opposition in the UK and around the world. They are a not-for-profit organisation, promoting research into opposition and related subjects through project-work, discussion seminars and publications.  For more information visit http://www.oppositionstudies.co.uk/.

© Copyright Leeds 2016