What Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have in common

Strange juxtaposition, but that’s what I like: making connections. One reason for the seeming rise in popularity of two figures (who could not be further apart politically) is that they tap into an emerging reality of modern democratic politics: the need to respond to what’s actually going on in the present, provide crystal clear direction -with messages to match- and come across as authentic. It’s easier to come across authentic if you really are. Corbyn and Trump are what they seem.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have seized on the need for leaders not to run ahead of themselves, but speak to what their target audiences need and want to hear. In both cases, they are rising to the challenge of the current role – effective opposition. Leadership in government will come later (so they face a bigger challenge than most to convince others they could be Prime Minister or President).

Of course, leadership – to be truly effective- needs to take people – preferably inspire people- to get to a place where they might not want immediately to be. But unless a leader connects on others’ wavelengths, people won’t be receptive to the bigger vision and more sophisticated arguments.

Aristotle said that the three key elements of persuasion were ethos, logos and pathos. Today’s world puts pathos first, winning people, specifically the need to engage first with others on the basis of an emotional response. Logos – winning the actual argument- is critical. And ultimately, you are only chosen as a leader if you are credible. That’s the test for both Corbyn and Trump, but other candidates seem now to have an even bigger challenge – to match Corbyn and Trump on pathos.

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Sir John Horlock: Thanksgiving Service

It was a great honour to attend a thanksgiving service for Sir John Horlock, The Open University’s second Vice-Chancellor.

In their tributes, Tim Horlock, Sir John’s son, and Joe Clinch, past University Secretary at the OU and Sir John’s right-hand man, brought to life Sir John Horlock’s character and contribution. He was so clearly a strong family man, a loving husband, father and grandfather, a distinguished academic and a very fine colleague. I can see why he will be so deeply missed.

Lady Horlock, Sir John’s wife, their three children and eight grand-children were all present.

So many people I spoke to afterwards found the occasion very moving. It made me feel so very proud of Sir John and his generation and what they together achieved. The Open University faces a new set of challenges and opportunities. I drew inspiration from Sir John’s leadership at a critical time in the OU’s history, his integrity and his lifelong commitment to education for all.

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Citizens UK meets the Prime Minister for round-table at No.10

Civil society leaders meet David Cameron for round-table discussion on matters ranging from adoption of Living Wage to improving social care provision and engagement with faith groups

Civil society leaders meet David Cameron for round-table discussion on matters ranging from adoption of Living Wage to improving social care provision and engagement with faith groups

I joined a round-table discussion last week with the PM, and used it to highlight the PM’s support for the Holocaust Commission. The Liberal Judaism website story recognises David Cameron’s and Mick Davis’s contribution.


Citizens UK is an interesting movement which the PM has positively engaged with throughout his time in office, often on issues that are difficult for all the main political parties. I thought it particularly important that we can show how different faith groups can work together on social action, including support for Holocaust education.

Reflection as a “strategic practitioner” in cross-sector collaboration? Organised citizen participation gives cross-sector collaboration depth, breadth and impact. It can reach parts that elected government and parliamentary democracy alone cannot reach because it is so focused on changing dynamics top down, ground up and across interest groups, and can find a constructive way to give expression to a wider social base, speaking truth to power.

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Jewish Book Week: interview with Patrick Bishop

Last Sunday I interviewed military historian and former Daily Telegraph Middle-East correspondent, Patrick Bishop, on his latest book, The Reckoning. Admirable author, so well and scrupulously researched, yet with the gift to tell a compelling and thought-provoking story. I am expecting the festival organisers to make available shortly a recording of the event attended by 100 people.

Patrick Bishop: The Reckoning
Patrick Bishop, Chair: Lucian Hudson
Sunday, 1 March 2015
As leader of the infamous Stern Gang, Avraham Stern fomented Jewish rebellion in Palestine against British rule. He was shot dead by a British officer on a cold winter’s day in Tel Aviv in 1942, his death hastening the end of the British Mandate. Bestselling author Patrick Bishop talks to strategy and communications expert, Lucian Hudson, about the man whose life and death held such momentous historical consequences. Patrick Bishop, formerly Middle East correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, was a foreign correspondent for over 20 years. He is now one of Britain’s most well-regarded military historians and the author of several acclaimed books.

Lucian Hudson is Director of Communications at The Open University and was a senior executive and television journalist for both the BBC and ITV. He has chaired several non-profit organisations, including Liberal Judaism.

- See more at: http://www.jewishbookweek.com/past-events/2389#sthash.wkYp6TWK.dpuf

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Lest we forget: those who served


Whether it is World War 1, World War 2 or any other war or conflict, this is a year when the big upheavals of the last century have been at the forefront of our collective memory, as well as any personal memory. The phrase “Lest we forget” comes from a poem by Rudyard Kipling, and has been used to remember and commemorate those lost in combat.

My generation have and had parents who survived World War 2 and grandparents who lived through World War 1.

My cousins recovered a photograph of my late maternal grandfather who survived both World Wars. He is featured here in a photograph taken in the 1930s, third from the right. Lucjan Zaleski was an officer in the Polish Army, having first served with the legendary Marshal Jozef Pilsudski in the struggle for Poland’s future. I was named after my grandfather and my brother’s middle name is Jozef.

Any more information about the group in this photograph would be gratefully received. One clue can lead to another!

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Fall of the Berlin Wall: Hester Vaizey’s new book

Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall

Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall

The youth of the GDR are in "psychological chaos".

The youth of the GDR are in “psychological chaos”.

Hester Vaizey’s new book is one of a clutch of gripping reads reflecting on the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Other books will track exactly what happened, but this one captures individual case stories and brings to light – and to life- what the Fall of the Wall was for East Germans. Eight East Germans give their account of the transition from Communism to Capitalism.

This is highly recommended because the author listens and with her subjects tries to make sense of a picture that is not necessarily black and white, but shades of grey and even colour. It is most insightful about loss, disconnection and disorientation.

The book provides a salutary reminder that much as the modern world- particularly the media when its coverage is superficial-like clean cuts and clean breaks, there is no one truth, but many truths and many interpretations. And that so-called “events”, however “historic”, are steps along the way, the build-up of unconscious and unforeseen forces, sometimes cohering, often competing.

As we continue to reach conclusions about being on the right or wrong side of history, I recall this piece of wisdom from one of our finest scholars. As the historian Asa Briggs and former Open University man told me last year, “History does not teach you anything. But historians might.”

Oh, and this is about the time when we journalists in newsrooms all got excited about “people power” before reality set in years later and we realised “regimes” can have good days and bad, but there is no substitute for a continuous nurturing of liberal democracy, respect for rule of law, human rights, freedom of expression and free and properly organised political parties. Contrast the Arab Spring with where we are now…

I was reminded of that day in November, 1989, working as a producer on the BBC Nine O’Clock News, liasing with our top correspondent the late Brian Hanrahan. Six years later I was proud to have him as one of my presenters on BBC World’s Newsdesk programme as he and other presenters such as Nik Gowing and Tim Sebastian pioneered the BBC’s 24-hour live television news.

No journalism of attachment, Brian told me again and again, only telling it as it is with a critical and sceptical eye. This was Brian’s 10th anniversary account of the Fall of the Berlin Wall:


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OU Combined Communications Conference 2014

Martin Bean speaking at OU Combined Communications Conference 2014

Martin Bean speaking at OU Combined Communications Conference 2014

Suzy McGill in full flow on creative brand expression. Who needs a new brand expression  when we can have Suzy?

Suzy McGill in full flow on creative brand expression. Who needs a new brand expression when we can have Suzy?

More stars at the OU Combined Communications Conference: the thoughtful Wojtek Lubowiecki and the ultra-talented Lauren Hutton

More stars at the OU Combined Communications Conference: the thoughtful Wojtek Lubowiecki and the ultra-talented Lauren Hutton

Top man Ian Roddis, Deputy Director of Communications and Head of Digital Engagement. Poise and calm in the most turbulent situations.

Top man Ian Roddis, Deputy Director of Communications and Head of Digital Engagement. Poise and calm in the most turbulent situations.

Three stars at OU Combined Communications Conference: Caroline Dickens, Kathryn Baldwin and David Meadows

Three stars at OU Combined Communications Conference: Caroline Dickens, Kathryn Baldwin and David Meadows

Every year, with the support of Marketing and Communications teams, I convene a conference bringing together colleagues from across The Open University to share our achievements and initiatives. This year we had a particularly high number of academics from across all our seven faculties and two institutes.

This time we also used the conference to equip our academics, associate lecturers and other ambassadors with the latest tools and techniques so that they can be even more effective in their communication with target audiences. We had some great external speakers, including Judy Friedberg, The Guardian’s Universities Editor and Christophe Jouan from the Future Foundation.

Our outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean, was an extraordinary hit, speaking about the need for being authentic and engaging meaningfully. He did so by example, inviting questions that were often probing and challenging. Many of us were very moved as we recognised that this might be one of his last major occasions here on the OU campus.

As I said in my tweet @LucianHudson:

So much rich insight and ideas shared at our #OU_CCC4 yesterday, captured here by @huttonite http://sfy.co/qlBN #storify

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Canada honours Sir John Daniel, former Vice-Chancellor, The OpenUniversity

Sir John Daniel

Sir John Daniel has been honoured for ‘advancement of open learning and distance education in Canada and around the world’. He tells me that he is pleased because this has indeed been the focus of his career!

To complete the picture, his knighthood, awarded in 1994, the OU’s 25th anniversary year, was for ‘services to higher education’.

Sir John Daniel, Vice-Chancellor 1990-2001, was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada by the Governor General, the Hon. David Johnston at Government House, Ottawa on September 12, 2014.

His other OU-related honour was the ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques’ from France for ’services rendus a la culture française’. Sir John has received national honours from all three countries in which he has lived and work.

Photo: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, 2014


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Diplomat blogs: progress since 2007

2007-2008 will forever be an historic year, a milestone in digital diplomacy. It was the year when the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office gave its imprimatur to social media, and officially encouraged and supported its diplomats to start blogging.

This coincided with renewed interest in diplomatic, military, policy and development circles in the use of “soft-power”. In the UK, the Foreign Secretaries who drove this were first Margaret Beckett with her emphasis on climate change and energy security, then David Miliband, who embraced strategic communications and digital diplomacy in a bold and unprecedented way and pursued the climate change and energy security agenda internationally. Ed Miliband was soon to become Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

John Ashton, who served three Foreign Secretaries as Special Adviser on Climate Change, was a critical senior colleague who helped me develop a more campaigning approach to international diplomacy, by being almost messianic on the need to see tackling climate change as the most important policy challenge, and putting value on collaboration at every level of society.

The most recent blog to read is the one below from Nigel Baker, our man at the Vatican, and the FCO Annual Report for 2007-08 gives a full account of communications and public diplomacy.


FCO Departmental Report 2007-08, pages 96 to 99


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Scottish Referendum: pause to reflect, then act wisely

The Open University is a Four Nations University, and takes pride in putting its students at the heart of everything it does. It remained neutral in the campaign, offering the expertise of its academics on specific issues. One angle that interested me the most was how both campaigns, for and against independence, revitalised democracy in Scotland, and will refresh interest in constitutional and political reform across the UK.

As a professional communicator, I found it fascinating to see the dynamics at work between top-down politics (with its emphasis on the words and actions of senior politicians) and ground-up civic engagement (with its emphasis on public engagement and use of social media). The Scottish Referendum was a far-reaching and potentially radicalising event. It has shaken all of us up. Far from being a matter to be resolved “out there” and “over there”, it ended up feeling more immediate, more integral to our sense of national and cultural identity, whether we lived in Scotland or not.

As a result of the referendum campaign, and with all the speculation on the constitutional implications, it is likely that further powers will be devolved to Scotland. However, there will be no immediate impact on OU students in Scotland or those intending to study with the university.

The OU in Scotland’s teaching grant will continue to come from the Scottish Government through the Scottish Funding Council, and the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will continue to award the Part-Time Fee Grant to OU students who meet the eligibility criteria.

A final personal thought, drawing on my experience at Ministry of Justice, and my time at the FCO, when I was responsible for the devolved government portfolio, promoting the UK and recognising the value of devolution.

It would be ill-advised to think of this decision as having winners and losers. A football match or Rugby match delivers such a clear-cut result. This referendum cut across families, friendships and professional networks. Much has been lost in heated debate: we need to recover what forges stronger links between us.

In the excitement -some would say panic- about the need now to act on the implications of the referendum and the promises made during the campaign, it is important when addressing constitutional and political change to tackle such challenges with a considered and phased approach. I am reminded of the German word, schlimmbessarung, an improvement that makes things worse. This is a time for keeping our nerve and thinking with the head, and not just the heart. The referendum result buys time, and does not drive it.

Planning is critical, and this means building a shared understanding of what to do next. If we want to build on the best of both campaigns – and they each revealed what was right and what was wrong with our politics – improve our political institutions, and restore a sense of what is positive about the union, we should adopt a three-step formula.

First, establish the scope and complexity of the issues, their relative importance and consequences for other ongoing business;

Second, seek broad-based agreement on the objectives and critical success factors to ensure the right buy-in at the outset; and

Third, structure a framework for public and institutional engagement, with clear measures of success.

The referendum is a wonderfully simple decision-making device. The rest that follows is not.

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