This isn’t a political post.
But it is about politics.
Rarely do local elections have the kind of excitement the latest enjoyed.
But there was something in the air about these ones.
If it wasn’t the threat of an SNP majority possibly dismantling the UK or the London mayoral run-off – with a list of candidates almost the size of the population – it was the will they/won’t they story of the Tories taking Hartlepool.
What is supposed to happen in local elections is the party in power gets hammered. No one is ever happy with the incumbent, including its own supporters and so they express their dissatisfaction any time they’re at a ballot box.
That didn’t happen this time.
Yet, it wasn’t quite the clear cut victory for the Tories the mainstream media made out.
Yes, they took Hartlepool and cemented their standing in many of the previous “Red Wall” seats.
Across the country, however, it was a more balanced and less conclusive story.
The SNP only just missed a majority but their dominance for almost two decades was underlined.
In Manchester, Andy Burnham was returned with a huge majority.
In London, Sadiq Khan scraped back in.
And in Wales, Mark Drakeford increased his own majority while shoring up seats for Labour in the country.
How can all these Labour leaders in their respective territories succeed where Keir Starmer couldn’t?
The clue is in the pandemic that came before it.
Each and every one of these leaders has had a platform during the pandemic. Each and every one has been on the news, locally and regionally, almost every day of the pandemic.
In providing local leadership, they have inadvertently continued to bang the drum for their own personal leadership.
Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford were on our newsfeed and televisions daily. Andy Burnham had the opportunity to publicly stand up to the government in the height of the confusion over tiered lockdowns. Sadiq Khan to a lesser extent.
Leadership was what people have sought. And those that could offer it – good or bad, depending on your political allegiance – benefited at the ballot box.
In areas where local leadership was weak and they didn’t have the voice or platform of the leaders above, the Tories continued to do well… because – surprise, surprise – Boris has been in our faces more times than we expect, even during an election campaign.
(Poor old Keir, though. In the halls of Westminster and hemmed in by the unpopularity of criticising a government in the midst of a crisis and challenged by his own party for not holding Boris to account enough, he’ll struggle to unveil any kind of message or policy that is likely to cut through right now).
The more people see you, hear you and think about you, the greater cut-through you achieve.
Barely any of us knew the non-entity that was Matt Hancock back at the start of 2020.
As punchable as his face may be, you cannot deny that we ALL know who he is now. His repeated and sustained presence on our screens almost every day during the pandemic has made him a household name.
The point is this.
People want to see leaders lead. And they want to see them upfront consistently communicating.
Cult brands don’t emerge by themselves. No cult ever emerged without a leader.
A leader needs to consistently and persistently drive their message home to the audience again and again.
One of the seven Cult Commandments for starting and growing a cult is:
You must consistently show up for your audience.
Of course, it’s vital to put the right pieces in place to gain maximum traction. You also need a polarising message and be perceptibly different from others in your space.
But that’s strategy. Without the regular execution of your strategy, no-one will ever hear your message, let alone connect with it enough to follow you.
It starts with being a leader.
Nothing happens until you a) decide to step up as a leader and b) commit to banging the drum of communicating with your audience week-in, week-out.
Decide to commit. Then execute. And the sooner you start, the sooner you reap the rewards.
Go do it…
Banging your drum in one of the seven Cult Commandments revealed in How To Start A Cult, out soon.
Discover how to start and grow a cult following for your brand or business, join The Cult List here.