THEY come in all ideological shapes and sizes. They are motivated by all manner of different imperatives. Yet there are certain qualities which speak of good and natural leadership, and certain which should never be tolerated by any electorate anywhere.

One widely used definition of good ­leadership is that you require to ­possess ­integrity, accountability, empathy, ­humility, resilience, vision, influence and positivity. By my reckoning the current Prime Minister is deficient in all but the last of these, and even then only when he’s boasting about what a fine chap he is, and what a splendid government he “leads”.

Where there should be integrity there is mendacity, while everyone around him is apparently accountable, never ­himself. I don’t think the notion of his ­being ­empathetic need detain us, or indeed ­possessing humility.

You could argue for resilience on the grounds that no matter how badly he ­behaves in either public or private, he ­regularly survives unsavoury episodes which, in a normal political world, would have seen him long gone.

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There are other virtues and vices I would throw into the leadership pot. Good, ­effective leaders are not afraid to ­surround themselves with people of ­quality and ­vision. They see them as a source of ­inspiration and support, not a threat to their own slender grasp on capability.

If you can bear to look around the ­Downing Street cabinet table you will not come across a nest of intellectually gifted strategists. Indeed you might reasonably ask why some of the most important and sensitive posts are being held by those you would hesitate to put in charge of the local menage.

It’s also important, not least in the ­modern era, that a good leader possesses the kind of communication skills which allow her or him to deliver the thinking behind policy formation in a readily ­accessible way.

The art of high oratory seems long gone now, but there were people like Michael Foot and Robin Cook who could command a respectful audience on all sides of the Commons. Yet Foot, as a Labour leader, failed another acid test of modern politics – having the electorate imagine you as Prime Minister. (See also Corbyn J.)

The National: Margaret Thatcher was not a great orator despite some memorable soundbitesMargaret Thatcher was not a great orator despite some memorable soundbites

Margaret Thatcher, in contrast, was not a good orator despite taking lessons to lower the register of her voice, but she could be a compelling speaker for all that. Her most memorable lines “U-turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning” were penned by a scriptwriter who knew how to fashion a soundbite.

Inoternationally, leadership offers some startling examples of systems failure. President Putin, like many authoritarian figures, manipulated the electoral system so that even when he took a brief detour from the top job, he installed a puppet with whom he swapped jobs.

Like too many of his counterparts in ­other legislatures he became so ­enamoured of power that he devised a ­formula for hanging on to it at the ­expense of the constitutional norms. ­Ultimate power resting in a single pair of hands can never be confused with democracy. Or good governance.

A quick tour round parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America will underscore that.

And then we have the ­unlovely ­phenomenon of Donald Trump. ­Regardless of whether we are rid of his ­malign presence in US presidential ­politics or not, he has destroyed his ­party in ways his political opponents never could. The Republican Party has been eaten by its own extremists, in much the same manner as the Tory Party became consumed by the more rabid Brexiteers.

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The Tea Party in the US and the ERG in the UK are prime examples of the kind of warped “patriotism” which impoverishes the country it professes to love. Nostalgia married to intolerance is never a union fashioned in heaven.

Trump, of course, was never an orator, but an exceptionally accomplished rabble rouser. A transcript of his “speeches” is little more than a collection of insults, boastfulness, outright lies, and non ­sequiteurs. It was the way he told them!

He defied all the behavioural norms and has poisoned the well of American politics for who knows how long. What is certainly true is that those Republican leaders who once knew right from wrong, are now able to argue black is white lest they offend the notorious Trump “base”. Base is absolutely the right term.

Another oddity of US politics is the willingness of electors to plight their troth to men and women who, frankly, are well past their sell by date. Trump, Pelosi, Biden, Sanders are all of an age where, whatever their experience and ­knowledge, their mental acuity is bound to be dulled by advancing age. Their energy levels too.

Even Elizabeth Warren, of whose fan club I have long been a member, is no spring chicken. Yet her party has no shortage of young, talented guns bed-blocked by the inability of their seniors to call it a day. Some of the former are dismissed as hotheads who lack realism. Nothing gives you a greater grasp of reality than the challenges of being in office. Time to move on a generation.

And what of our own dear ­country. ­Donald Dewar, the original First ­Minister died suddenly to be ­succeeded by a ­number of Labour colleagues some of whose ­careers met with unfortunate ­accidents while some, like Jack ­McConnell, spent half a dozen years in the top job.

The pendulum began to swing from Labour hegemony to the SNP variety in the seminal election of 2007. Even then, nobody could have foreseen the current political landscape where Labour has a solitary Westminster MP and has slipped to third place in Holyrood behind the ­Tories.

The rise of the Nationalists has brought us two leaders with quite ­different ­temperaments and, arguably, different skillsets. Break Up, the book written about how these once ­political ­soulmates ­became embroiled in the most ­unsavoury series of events since ­Scotland’s ­parliament began provides many ­fascinating insights.

Yet the fallout from that process threatens to poison the independence well too, if we are not mindful enough of what should be a common goal. Salmondites long for more buccaneering boldness, Sturgeonistas point to the benefits of a cautious mindset in a national emergency.

The rather dispiriting truth is that no leader possesses all the necessary ­qualities for the job in hand. ­Churchill, lauded as the great wartime leader, turns out to have sacrificed many fellow ­countrymen and women on the altar of military ­expedience. Not to mention having a line in racist philosophy which might make even Boris blush.

Yet people still argue his virtues were those most required at the time. Just as some people argue that a pandemic ­requires different leadership qualities to a full throated indy campaign.

Everyone has a view, and some of these are regularly expressed in language for which the term unparliamentary is underpowered. Back in the world of real politik certain truths I believe to be self evident.

There is only one party in Scotland, and one leader, who is in a position to deliver independence. Alex Salmond may have been sinned against but he is not without sin. He is also, whatever his fan base may think, no longer to be filed under ­electoral asset. Check the stats.

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His leadership underpinned the rise of his party to becoming a formidable force. His talents were what was needed then. His faults have been well rehearsed since.

The task ahead requires a massive ­communal effort on behalf of the Yes ­family, in addition to political heft and commitment. The latest polling suggests the undecideds are a shrinking constituency, but the waverers are crucial.

Remember the words of the late Margo MacDonald who WAS a powerful orator. If we all persuade one other person we’re home and dry, she opined. Correct.