Billy Christian has an interesting posting about leadership called McGuinty’s Bold Plan
In it, he congratulates the premier of Ontario for harmonizing the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The message is that a real leader will do unpopular things.
"Thursday’s budget," Christian says, "showed that he is a genuine leader." Why? "He has the courage to take a big political hit."
The Globe and Mail highlighted the fact that common consumer purchases like coffee, muffins, gym memberships, golf and Internet fees and vitamins would become more expensive. McGuinty knew that this kind of attack was coming but it didn't stop him.
Ironically, in spite of his praise for bold public action, Christian also implies that sometimes a leader should be deceptive.
He claims that Brian Mulroney slit his own throat when he made the GST a visible rather than a hidden tax. "The visible tax irritated people" and "it destroyed his popularity forever."
Instead of billing the public directly at the point of purchase he could have imposed the tax on the producer or importer who would have added it to the price and passed it onto the consumer. This would have achieved the same effect without damaging the leader's relationship with a short-sighted public.
Inotherwords, if you're dealing with ignorant, prejudiced, narrow-minded people it's unwise to give them information that will only inflame them because it's more than they can understand.
This is a conservative idea of leadership. I'm thinking here of conservatism as a political and social idea that manifests itself in a structured society in which the leading roles are reserved for people who deserve them by virtue of their knowledge and character.
Since the leaders have greater understanding than the popular masses they are not obliged to be fully transparent with the lower orders or to deal with them as equals. The common people govern themselves more by emotion than deep thought and so, like children, don't have to know everything.