A Person Specification for the Prime Minister we really need

Early in February 2022, it looked like Prime Minister Boris Johnson might soon be out of a job. Subsequent events have probably protected him for a while. But when he does eventually go, will the U.K. get the leader it really needs? If you were a head hunter looking for exceptional candidates to lead the country through an historic transition to a sustainable economy, who would you short-list from our current MPs? Or would you be looking elsewhere?

Here is my draft advert and person specification. Comments very much welcomed.

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Exceptionally able leader needed to guide and inspire the people of the United Kingdom through an epoch-making transition to a sustainable economy. 

The people of the UK, along with populations across the world, are facing the dire implications of the ever worsening climate and nature emergencies, with continuing rises in global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, rates of extinctions, pollution and waste. The window of opportunity for containing the already inevitable damage is getting smaller by the day. The issues are now on the political agenda and public understanding of the necessity for action is increasing slowly but a massive cultural shift is now required, comparable to but greater than the transformation of the economy at the time of World War II.

Those who truly appreciate the urgency of the situation, despite its insidious invisibility much of the time, realise this is the time for exceptionally committed and capable individuals to step forward to take the country by the hand. The scientific data is undeniable; the United Kingdom, along with its partners in the United Nations, cannot wait until the state of the world becomes so catastrophic that its people finally grasp the necessity for decisive action.

The country needs courageous and fiercely determined leadership to inspire a vision for transformation that workers in all sectors will be willing to contribute to with hope and whole hearts. While no individual Prime Minister or Cabinet can impose a deep cultural shift upon the country, systemic change nonetheless requires clear signals and effective action from the top, with legislation creating a level playing field marked out by unequivocally clear parameters, the disabling of dangerous obstacles and the creation of motivational, practical incentives.

Candidates are invited to step forward who believe themselves capable of shouldering this enormous but exceptionally exciting leadership challenge. They should have as many of the following competencies as possible.

  • A profound understanding of the climate and nature emergencies, the possible solutions thereto and the structural transformation that is required
  • Courage and determination to take the helm of the nation
  • Powerful communicator to explain the situation, tell the truth, convey the urgency, and inspire belief and excitement within the population – in order to generate a shared vision and determination 
  • Sharp thinking strategist, capable of working with experts within government and without to identify and implement the most potent political and legal levers for change 
  • Real world experience of designing, implementing and monitoring systemic change 
  • Ability to carry through the necessary long term transformation whilst also managing and integrating shorter term demands
  • Ability to speak to all sectors of civil society and convince them that the transition will be fair, that we really are all in this together
  • Political expertise to engage all arms of government and the state in a joined up strategy
  • Ability to transcend political divides and build a committed coalition for change
  • Intelligent mediator within own party, able to understand the values and dreams of each faction and enable them to find a mutually acceptable visionary programme
  • Excellent manager and delegator, able to select, direct and collaborate with ministers for decarbonisation attached to each sector of the economy
  • Confident leader on the international stage, able to use the prominence of the U.K. to build a global commitment to a rapid sustainability transition and to minimise the risks of conflict
  • Principled adherent to the Nolan principles of Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.

We are also looking for first rate Ministers and parliamentarians to support the new Prime Minister.

This huge and exciting challenge cannot be met by a single individual. The new Prime Minister will need a government and a parliament of unparalleled skill and intellectual ability, each and every person committed to the team effort and to the highest standards of probity. Candidates are therefore also sought for the next general election who are fundamentally committed to:

  1. Designing and taking decisive actions for the rapid decarbonisation of the UK economy, to half of its current levels by 2030;
  2. Ensuring that the transformation commands the support of the general population and protects their livelihoods (a just transition);
  3. Observing the Nolan principles in everything that they do.

Might you be one of these people? Do you know someone who might be? This is a time for people with truly great leadership skills and potential to step forwards and make history. 

Author: Nick Nuttgens

Nick Nuttgens is a retired facilitator, trainer, teacher and theatre maker, now focusing his attention on climate communications and visual art projects. His eclectic career included periods in the arts as a performer, director and choreographer, in the voluntary sector as a manager and trainer, and in education as a primary teacher. At one point, he was the Director of the Creative Partnerships programme in Sheffield, UK, leading on the development of creative approaches to teaching and learning in 75 schools. He was studying for a PhD in creative methods of communicating about climate change until he got cancer (luckily now in remission.) He is one of the co-convenors of a voluntary group based at the University of Sheffield called the Climate Communications Hub. Recent projects include a study group on critical thinking as applied to the climate emergency and ‘climate conversations’ training courses. More about his background, philosophy and values can be found in the About section of this blog.

3 thoughts on “A Person Specification for the Prime Minister we really need”

  1. Brilliantly conceived and written, as one would expect from Nick. But isn’t there one great omission? The Media Establishment. It wouldn’t matter how wonderful this leader is: if Murdoch or Rothermere or the remaining Barclay brother decided it was time for them to be bunked, bunked they would be.


    1. It’s very much a sketch, and I agree that handling the media is a skill to add to the spec. But I guess I’m holding up the hope of a visionary leader stepping forward. All I can think is that they would have to tell the truth about the media barons too – calmly, firmly, persistently. I think they also need to be good at using social media to speak directly to readers of tabloid papers. John Cook talks about ‘inoculation’ by explaining the tactics of the denialists and delayists. Do you have any recommendations on how such a PM could handle Murdoch et al?


      1. I agree that using social media effectively is probably the best route. Although the people who have been the most effective at this so far, like Donald Trump, are hardly people our beloved visionary leader is likely to want to emulate, and ‘being calm and firm’ may not be the way to create the thrills and spills that populist leaders, untrammelled by the requirements of truth or humanity, are so good at rousing via social media.

        Though Jeremy Corbyn was a notable exception. He was calm, gentle, modest and selfless, and yet able to communicate those qualities potently to hundreds of thousands of followers via the relative directness of social media and via personal appearances. So it’s possible our candidate could touch and move people, despite being an honourable man and not a wild bombast like Trump or Johnson. But ‘handling’ Murdoch media? Not a chance. We saw how outrageously and vilely it smeared Corbyn – and where were the fearlessly truth-seeking investigative journalists laying out how absurd these accusations were? Not even Channel Four came to the rescue. Certainly not the Guardian, one of the worst offenders.

        So is there some way our visionary and honourable candidate could ‘handle Murdoch et al’? Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. It is Murdoch who handles PMs and Presidents, not the other way round – whether in the UK, Australia, or the US (via Fox News). In Australia, he removed two PMs from office, one leftwing and one rightwing, each for daring to take a step greenwards, and appointed in their place the current PM because he catastrophically anti-green.

        Unless the public becomes seriously media literate, and stops claiming they don’t believe the billionaire media while actually believing them, the king-making, culture-drenching power of the billionaires’ Big Media will continue unabated.


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