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Next leader should aim to prove ability, not just focus on GE

Winning the general election is important, as that is the next prime minister's first test before entering Cabinet.

However, leading the party in the next general election should not be an important criterion for choosing the next PM (Who will be new PM? Test him in next GE; Feb 25).

Instead, the next PM must be a visionary leader with a plan and direction for the nation, an effective manager to ensure that the plan is well executed, as well as a great communicator to convince the country to move in the right direction, even if such a move is unpopular in the beginning.

A good PM is like a good doctor - someone who can make a diagnosis based on analysing subtle but salient signs, come up with a management plan, convince his patient of his plan, perform the surgery and send the patient home in good health.

In the 1992 British General Election, Lord Chris Patten, chairman of the Conservative Party, orchestrated the unexpected Conservative victory.

However, he paid the price when he lost his parliamentary seat at his neglected Bath constituency.

Substance is more important than style. The next PM should aim to prove his ability, rather than merely focusing on the next general election.

Desmond Wai Chun Tao (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 04, 2018, with the headline 'Next leader should aim to prove ability, not just focus on GE'. Print Edition | Subscribe