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Leader Of The Gang: Timely New Essay On Political Leadership

Press Release – The Griffith Review

Speculation about a change in political leadership seems almost perpetual in Australia. It is a tenuous bargain, with more similarities to street gangs than business enterprises.An inside look at the tenuous leadership bargain in Australian politics

Speculation about a change in political leadership seems almost perpetual in Australia. It is a tenuous bargain, with more similarities to street gangs than business enterprises.

Glyn Davis, professor of political science and vice-chancellor of Melbourne University, argues in an elegant new essay to be released 26 November, Leader of the gang: how political parties choose numero uno that Australian political leadership is unlike that required or expected in any other public endeavour. He reviews the history of the leadership turbulence that besets both sides of Australian politics and reaches some worrying conclusions.

The essay will provide useful insights for political insiders, politicians, journalists and public servants, but is important for every voter who cares about the health of Australian democracy.

Leader of the gang is available on 26 November as an ePub through and all major online retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, Dymocks, Whitcoulls, and more, for AUD$4.95.

Readers can pre-register for a copy at
Extracts available upon inquiry for 26 November.

Early Praise:

“Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis is more than a professor of political science; for years he worked closely with premiers and prime ministers and understands the brutal ingredients necessary for a successful political leader to get elected and survive in the murky waters of parliamentary parties. From the leaders of street gangs in Chicago to the removal of Kevin Rudd, Glyn Davis’ essay brings new insights into the fickle group culture which anoints and removes leaders.”
-Peter Beattie, former Premier of Queensland

“Leadership politics in Australia is a brutal business. This is a penetrating examination of why people are made leaders, and why they are unmade.”
-Petro Georgiou retired as federal member for Kooyong in 2010. He is currently Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at Monash University and the University of Melbourne

“In contrast with the smooth, shining ideal types posited in parts of the academy, Glyn Davis reveals political party leadership in Australia for the crap shoot that it is – transitory, contextual, capricious, more ‘West Side Story’ than ‘Westminster system’. It incites deep thinking about how to reduce churn rates which risk making the leadership lottery Davis sketches so compellingly a losing bet for the Australian nation as a whole.”
-Chris Wallace, political journalist and biographer and editor of Breakfast Politics

“In economics, Keynes called them animal spirits. In politics we often spend too much time trying to attribute the outcomes of the wild scrum of a political pack to loftier, more intellectual motivations. Glyn Davis takes us back to consider a more uncomfortable truth.”
-Laura Tingle, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review

“Glyn Davis discovers that the secrets of how political leaders take and hold power in Australia – and why so many are torn down – can be found not by looking at conventional models of leadership, but at the behaviour of street gangs. Refreshingly original, compelling, provocative and ultimately troubling.”
-Michael Gordon, National Editor, The Age


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