Roy Hodgson or Harry Redknapp? The FA indicates that it has solved a dilemma

April 30, 2012

An FA statement indicates that it is preparing to approach Roy Hodgson for the vacant post of England team manager. But have they solved their dilemma?

Updated post after appointment of Roy Hodgson [1st May 2012]

A terse announcement from the Football Association [29th April 2012] triggered speculation concerning the appointment of a new manager for the England Football team. The story may not be as simple as that.

The FA statement

West Bromwich Albion have today granted permission for The FA to speak with Roy Hodgson regarding the position of England Manager. This follows an approach from FA Chairman David Bernstein to West Bromwich Albion Chairman Jeremy Peace.

David Bernstein said: “I’m grateful to Jeremy and all at West Bromwich Albion for their co-operation in allowing us to approach Roy, who I have since spoken with. Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set-out soon after Fabio Capello’s departure. Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made.”

The Daily Mirror called it a surprise move. The Mail “an astonishing decision”.

Harry Redknapp, The Tottenham Hotspur manager, has been a strong favourite and would have been a popular appointment.

Dilemmas in the appointment process

The FA received considerable criticism over the way the appointment of the last England manager, the Italian Fabio Capello. As is inevitably the case, there were difficulties of timing then, as now. This track record of presumed bungling may have added to the concern in the FA to avoid accusations of bad timing again. Rednapp’s team is intensely engaged in a battle to secure a place in the European Cup competition next season, while Hodgson’s West Ham may be considered as having a less-focussed immediate concerns (although their fans may disagree).

The dilemma may have been how to address an overriding concern of the FA to make an appointment without drawing attention to possible bungling in the process. If so, initial reactions suggest they have not achived public support for their choice.

The Official announcement

The Press Conference [May 1st 2012] announcing the appointment and also revealed to FA’s official position. As the Press Release put it:

“Hodgson, aged 64, who has won a total of eight league titles in a distinguished career, and coached the national teams of Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates, met with FA officials at Wembley on Monday.

Having taken Switzerland to the FIFA World Cup in 1994 – their first Finals competition for 28 years – Hodgson also achieved [for Switzerland] a FIFA ranking of third in the world as well as successfully qualifying the team for Euro 96.

His former clubs include Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Grasshoppers, FC Copenhagen, Fulham and Liverpool. He has also managed in Norway and Sweden. In addition, he has been a regular member of FIFA and UEFA’s technical study groups at tournaments.

Along with his vast experience of international and European football, Hodgson is the only English manager currently working in the top flight to have won the League Managers’ Association manager of the year award.”

What can we interpret from the statement?

There is a lot of evidence presented by the FA which indicateds why Roy Hodgson can be considered a strong candidate for the post. The unwritten information is what made the media find the decision such an unexpected one. Why was there such a widespread belief that Harry Redknapp was the front-runner? Suggestions welcomed.

Platforms of Understanding and the resolution of leadership dilemmas

April 27, 2012

Research Note by Tudor Rickards

The concept of a platform of understanding can make a contribution to reflective analysis of leadership decisions and dilemmas. We examine the discussion through a case example within a radio call-in programme mediated by Victoria Derbyshire

This research note is primarily a technical one for leadership students, although I hope it may be of interest to a broader audience interested in social influence processes.

Making sense of business stories

Students studying the text-book Dilemmas of Leadership are encouraged to make sense of business stories and discussions. One of the approaches involves identifying belief systems which are described as platforms of understanding.

An example illustrating the Platform of Understanding concept

Recently [April 27th, 2012] I was trying to understand an argument being put forward in a broadcast discussion about the current industrial dispute in the UK between tanker drivers and their employers. The discussion took place in a BBC Five live radio programme which included texts, emails and and calls from listeners.

“Making your point” suggests a personal Platform of Understanding

Call-in programmes often encourage callers to “make your point”. A “point” may be examined as an expression of a personal set of beliefs and assertions. In the programme, the callers provided two opposing platforms of understanding.

One view was various variations of the same basic “point” that the tanker drivers were entitled to strike. The opposing view rejected the first perspective. Variations arose from different understanding of the “why” of the potential strike.

The advocates of the opposing POUs had no way of engaging with those of the opposing perspective, nor ways of influencing them to their point of view. The discussion (when left unmediated) was going nowhere.

How dilemmas may be suggested by studying opposing beliefs

In this case, the opposing perspectives may be seen as something along the lines of

[1] “rights of workers” (a platform of understanding)
[2] “social/economic perils of conceding to the claims of the worker’s demands” (opposing platform of understanding).

Creative leadership

A skilled presenter is able to encourage the discussion beyond what would otherwise be irreconcilable positions (although sometimes there may be a conscious choice to “let the people speak” and demonstrate the lack of a simple solution to the dilemma). This has been described as a form of creative and facilitative leadership.

The presenter, Victoria Derbyshire, was able to clarify factually incorrect aspects of assertions being made, and help move to a discussion of the broader dilemmas of workers’ rights and economic well-being, without reducing the discussion to right-wrong point scoring.

More speculative “map-making”

I have outlined a few general points which show how looking for platforms of understanding helps in making sense of arguments and disputes. These ideas may be extended to more speculative ideas which are my own particular musings and map-making from the case example.

There is much to be gained for examining platforms of understanding. The process reveals how two platforms of understanding may construct a shared platform of misunderstanding It also shows how over-rigid adherence to personal platforms of understanding reinforces difficulties in dealing with the dilemmas which are in partly socially constructed from such rigidities. Finally it increases the claims that dilemmas can be helpfully addressed through creative leadership.

News International Update

April 25, 2012

The fate of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire continues to attract attention globally. Leaders we deserve is providing regular updates, as the Leveson Enquiry in the UK into Government and news media relations continues


This post will be updated regularly. Earlier LWD posts include:

The Murdoch meltdown
The closure of The News of the World
The business model of Rupert Murdoch

May 12th

Leveson enquiry continues to attract media attention with Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun editor, taking the stand at the Leveson enquiry. The BBC asks whether she have been treated differently if she had she been a “grumpy old man of Fleet Street”

Her testimony suggests that the Government will face more political problems from the stories produced through the enquiry which was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron. These appear to leave the spotlight on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, as well as Mr Cameron’s own relationship with the former Sun editor.

May 10th

Selective amnesia and his status as someone on bail in connection with phone hacking hinder evidence to Leveson from Andy Coulson

Independent newspaper suggests Coulson’s evidence ‘leaves toughest questions at Prime Minister’s door’.

Personal view [TR notes for LWD]:

Coulson at times showed a grasp of the unspoken implications of questioning as well as more generally as someone thoroughly cautious and well-prepared with a few key points to make (no conspiracy; was not hired to influence Robert Murdoch’s political decisions.

May 9th

Story picks up as Leveson enquiry resumes. David Cameron’s closeness to Rebekah Brooks is not particularly new.

May 3rd 2012

BskyB distances itself from its major shareholder News Corporation in a statement from its chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

May 2nd 2012

Select committee finds Rupert Murdoch unfit to run News International. James Murdoch is also severely criticised.

Committee appears to have exceeded its brief, particularly with the most damning criticism, where voting occurred along partisan lines.

The Washington Post notes:

The parliamentary report issued Tuesday [Ist May 2012] was far harsher than most British observers had expected. It was approved by a 6 to 4 vote, with the four members from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party staunchly objecting to the description of Murdoch as an unfit proprietor.

April 30th

The former First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell reported as political target of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

Jeremy Hunt ‘On probation’ by Prime Minister’s statement.

April 29th

Telegraph reports Cameron could fire Hunt if new evidence emerges.

April 28th

Leveson rejects Government plans to review Jeremy Hunt’s conduct over BSkyB bid saying “It’s not my problem”

April 27th

The Guardian: Rupert Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry was like one of his tabloids: a lively mixture of accurate and inaccurate reporting, one-eyed comment and total fantasy.

Sky News, itself part of the story reports on Simon Hughes’ call for an investigation into Jeremy Hunt’s conduct during BskyB takeover bid.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that George Osborne is facing questions over whether he was lobbied by Rupert Murdoch and played a role in supporting News Corp’s attempted £8bn takeover of BSkyB.

April 26th Murdoch

Two inter-related stories today. In Parliament, Jeremy Hunt defended his ‘quasi-judicial’ role in the BskyB bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Mr Murdoch appears before the Leveson enquiry into Media ethics.

The BBC reports Rupert Murdoch’s witness statement

The Independent sees the Jeremy Hunt story as “a toxic trail” leading from Jeremy Hunt to the Prime Minister’s involvement in the Murdoch bid for B Sky B.

The Scotsman: Cameron admits “we all did too much cosying up” to The Murdochs.

April 25th 2012

The BBC continues its reporting of the Leveson enquiry with a ‘What the papers say’ review.

The Daily Telegraph examines the testimony of James Murdoch [24th April 2012] to the enquiry concluding that the Government’s relations with the Murdochs are coming under close scrutiny and ‘revealing a lack of candour’

The Guardian focuses on another close political relationship: between Rupert Murdoch and Alex Salmond

April 23rd 2012

Lord Patten tells Leveson enquiry:

Plainly, Mr Murdoch took the view that publishing a book which was critical of the Chinese leadership would not improve his chances [of expanding his business interests in China] , so he instructed HarperCollins to drop the book on the grounds that [the book] was no good”.


Image of Rupert Murdoch is from

Donald Trump’s Love-affair with Scottish Golf Courses takes a blow

April 24, 2012

Donald Trump American entrepreneur, TV reality show star, and wannabe Presidential candidate is a golf enthusiast who has invested heavily in the leisure industry of Scotland. But he appears to be having a tiff with Scottish politicians

Mr Trump claims that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond had reassured him that proposals to build an off-shore wind farm close to his championship golf course would never win political approval.

The betrayal

But yesterday, [April 23rd 2012] according to the Scotsman:

Mr Trump said: “I feel totally betrayed and lied to by the Scottish Government. I was really misled and mistreated.”
The tycoon made it clear that, should the wind farm get the go-ahead, then the Menie [Aberdeenshire] development would end once the course is opened and construction on the planned clubhouse is completed. It will be a golf course and it will be a beautiful clubhouse and that will be it. That’s not what I want. We have a concept for a hotel which will blow everyone’s minds but I can’t have a hotel looking into those windmills.”

Another account of the turbulent meeting can be found in the Guardian.

Leaders we deserve have followed the Scottish business activities of Mr Trump for several years. His business style seems to have contributed to problems in implementing some of his cherished visions.

In 2010 we reported The Independent as saying:

The billionaire Donald Trump last week clashed with protesters opposed to his controversial plans to build the “world’s greatest golf course” near Aberdeen. Quarry worker Michael Forbes, who is refusing to sell his property which adjoins the £750m scheme, claims Mr Trump’s workers unlawfully annexed his land. The clash is the latest skirmish in an increasingly bitter battle to prevent Mr Trump from developing the site. More than 7,000 local people have signed up to join the “bunker”, co-owners of an acre of land sold by Mr Forbes [a local land-owner] to disrupt the US tycoon’s plans. The philanthropist and co-founder of the Body Shop (Gordon Roddick) and Green MP Caroline Lucas are the latest to join the campaign.

Wind Farms OK, Donald Trump not OK?

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Trump is succeeding in his dilemma of winning over regional opposition to his business interests while achieving his business goals.


Image from Ecohooks website and the pithily titled post: Donald Trump Pissed about Offshore Wind Farms

Bloodshed in Bahrain: Bernie Eccleston is not quite the Rupert Murdoch of Global Sport

April 22, 2012

The Formula one race in Bahrain has once again brought its chairman Bernie Eccleston into the limelight. We look briefly at his entrepreneurial credentials

The British president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration is generally regarded as most powerful influence in Formula 1 racing. He retains dominance into his 80s. He has also attracted controversy over alleged illegal political influence.

Former Motor racing competitor.

Forbes addresses the perennially interesting question ‘how did he get as rich as he is?’ revealing a well-beaten path to success for entrepreneurs. Much has been written about entrepreneurs compensating for early-life experiences, and of being motivated to overcome turning possible disadvantageous factors. Factors include a hobby (motor bikes) which turned into a profit (motor bike parts) and later through a personal network in motor cycling and racing where street-smarts prevailed.

A diminutive former car salesman

A diminutive former car salesman, Bernie Ecclestone raced into the billionaire ranks in 2005 after selling stakes in Formula One Group for $2.5 billion. After failing to qualify as a Formula One race driver, he bought a team and brokered a complex series of contracts and TV deals for other F1 teams, taking over most rights in 1997, and turning F1 into a lucrative global franchise. He then began selling the sport’s commercial rights to TV broadcasters, which eventually brought him billions.

Attracted publicity

Ecclestone has attracted publicity for financial support of Labour party for alleged influence for his business interests. Also for friendship and business relationship with another controversial figure Max Moseley, and for lifestyle and provocative statements considered anti-feminist and anti-semitic.

Another Rupert Murdoch?

He accepts (maybe enjoys?) a public image as an all-powerful Rupert Murdoch figure figuring in controversial news stories. He may be less than enthusiastic over media accounts of the life styles of his well-endowed daughters. [I just realised the unintended second meaning to that statement: Ed]

The Bahrain Grand Prix

Last year, the FI race in Bahrain was cancelled after an upsurge in violence. This year a decision was made to reinstate the race [scheduled for 22nd April, 2012] Even more international pressure was put on the FI administration. There was an upsurge in violence which made the decision to go ahead look like a humanitarian and public relations disaster.
Despite claims by F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and regime officials that the race was safe and the threat of violence “hyped”, the build-up to the contest has been marked by increasingly large anti-government demonstrations that have been put down with teargas, birdshot and stun grenades.

On Friday, [April 21st 2012] activists began what they described as the first of “three days of rage” against Bahrain’s rulers. There were reports last night that police firing teargas canisters were confronting protesters hurling petrol bombs.

The ruling al-Khalifa family has depicted the race — which is expected to draw an audience of about 100 million — as a “force for good” and an event that will unite Bahrain. At least 50 people have died in the unrest since February 2011 in the longest-running street battles of the Arab Spring. Bahrain’s Shia majority is seeking to break the near-monopoly on power by the ruling Sunni dynasty, which has close ties to the west and Saudi Arabia.

To be continued

Andy Murray may need more mental map-making for Open success

April 21, 2012

Andy Murray has shown a willingness to learn through his new coach Ivan Lendl.

We examine how the learning will require reframing not of broken racquets but of mental maps

As Murray was heading for defeat against Tomas Berdych at the Monte Carlo Masters event [April 20th 2012] he smashed his racquet in frustration at his failure to find a strategy to cope with his opponent’s muscular game.

Coping with the unexpected

The defeat was not particularly unexpected. Although Murray is higher ranked, Berdych’s game is suited to Monaco’s clay court surfaces. Murray’s preparation has been hampered by unusual circumstances (withdrawal of three opponents through injury in the last few weeks, including in his last match). But the unusual has also to be coped with. The manner of the loss suggested Murray had not found a plan to deal with ‘events’ and with Berdych.

The post-match interview

We can examine the post-match interview for signs of the Scot’s mental state. I borrow from the principles of mental map-making which are being taught to business students including those at the Miami location of Manchester Business School programs not far from Murray’s own training facilities. The mapping approach attempts to examine the way an individual (or a group) may be ‘reading’ a situation and making sense of it by testing assumptions, and maybe changing his or her mind through mental reframing or conceptual map-making.

In post-match interviews Andy usually shows evidence of an acute mind actively engaged. That is in itself unusual, and compares well with evidence from interviews with top sports figures generally (I am thinking of the vast majority of interviews with fooball players and many managers). I have added my own ‘map testing’ interpretations of Andy’s maps.

“At some points today in the match I did well, and at some points I didn’t do so well,” said the Scot.
[Map reading]

“Today is a good match to learn from because I was playing a top player who played very, very well.
[Recognising the need to learn by map-mapping]

“I hung in, in the first set. Then in the tie-break I got a few lucky bounces. He missed a couple of shots that he hadn’t been missing.
[More map-reading]

“At the start of the second set he obviously started playing better and my level dropped – as the scoreline suggests.”
[map-making? He concludes that Berdych gained an advantage by playing the better better and that his own level dropped. He bases it on the evidence of the scoreline. He lost the set heavily].

Some tentative conclusions

A post-match interview may only reveal a glimpse of a player’s thinking processes. There may be deliberate withholding of information. And there is the possibility of ‘knowing more than can be said’. Just on the evidence, it seems to me that Andy Murray has untapped potential which if released will increase his chances of winning his much-coveted first Open Championship. He shows he has the mental equipment to reflect and develop his game further.

Although not obvious in the snippet of interview above, he is adequately motivated (over-motivated, some may say. His reflections stop short of acknowledging the dilemmas he faces. Can he rely on his exceptional defensive skills or should he attempt to be more aggressive, for example?
Maybe some more reframing of his mind sets will produce less reframing of his racquets.


The image could have been of Andy’s racquet. I suspect it’s not. It comes from the excellent tennis blog This tennis.


A few months later Andy Murray won the US Open, with ample evidence that he has developed the necessary mental reframing.

Is Denis O’Brien Ireland’s Rupert Murdoch?

April 20, 2012

The Irish entrepreneur and billionaire Denis O’Brien has a business career with similarities to that of Rupert Murdoch. He is currently believed to have been involved in moves to control Ireland’s Independent News & Media organization

I was struck by the account in this week’s Irish Times [April 20th 2012] of the boardroom changes in Ireland’s Independent News & Media organization [INM]. The story was presented as a clash between INN’s owners within a business empire founded by Tony O’ Reilly, and the business interests of the next-generation Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien who has become a major shareholder at INN.

With speculation mounting that dissident shareholder Denis O’Brien was planning to topple him, Independent News & Media’s chief executive Gavin O’Reilly raised the white flag and trudged off the battlefield.

O’Reilly was a marked man from the moment Leslie Buckley, O’Brien’s closest business associate, was dumped from the INM board last year.
The fact that INM’s operational performance has worsened over the past year also played a role in O’Reilly’s demise. No dividend has been paid since the crash. It was once considered the safest [investment] in town. Nothing O’Reilly said or did was able to arrest the slide. It is interesting to note that since its AGM last June, chairman Brian Hillery and the chief executive [Gavin O’Reilly ] have now both left.

O’Reilly’s exit means that for the first time since 1973 no member of Anthony O’Reilly’s family will be controlling INM’s affairs. What all of this means in relation to O’Brien’s plans for his INM stake remains to be seen. Many close to INM believe he has no intention of moving to acquire the company. There are substantial issues around his media ownership here, given his interests in six radio licences. Last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the [Irish] Government would “have a reflection on this in terms of cross-ownership of media”.

He may have gotten rid of O’Reilly but O’Brien has failed to gain control of the company, which many commentators presumed was his plan. Then again, perhaps that is the way he wants it. For now, at least.

Denis and Rupert

The career and leadership style of Denis O’Brien has some similarities with that of Rupert Murdoch. However, such comparisons risk over-simplifying complex issues, and need to be taken with a conceptual health warning.

Mr O’ Brien became a Portuguese resident thus avoiding paying taxes in Ireland.

A Government investigation [The Moriarty tribunal] examined his actions in the move which gave him his greatest financial boost. According to The Irish Times [3rd March, 2011] it found “beyond doubt” that [the then minister for transport, energy and communications] Mr Lowry gave “substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the [mobile] licence”.

Update [Dec 11th 2012]

This week the IMM group’s financial position was assessed as week, and the company in need of drastic restructuring.

Buggins Turn. Or how Jim Yong Kim was appointed to lead The World Bank over Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

April 19, 2012

A consensus formed that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the best-qualified candidate to take the World Bank forward. However, the ‘Buggins turn’ arrangements for leadership guaranteed that President Obama would nominate an American for the post. His candidate Dr Jim Yong Kim, was the successful one

An editorial from The Nation examines Dr Okonjo-Iweala credentials.

Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former managing director of the World Bank and Nigeria’s current minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, is the best candidate for the job of World Bank president.

She not only rose to the rank of managing director of the Bank, even the most dyed-in-the-wool Western media are testifying that she is a better candidate for the job than her two rivals, Colombia’s Jose Anthonio Ocampo and President Barack Obama’s American nominee, Jim Yong Kim, a professor of public health. She has worked in every World Bank region of the world: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and of course, Breton Woods headquarters itself, Washington. Besides, she has all the crucial mix to be a good fit: a good and rounded understanding of development through fiscal issues related to micro and macro-economics, sectoral issues like education, manufacturing, health and development agenda issues like gender, women and children, not to mention enterprise, business development and infrastructure.

This set of attributes are to be found within a negative view expressed of the impact Dr Okonjo-Iweala has had as a politician in Nigeria, blaming her as “an agent of the West” for the unpopular and contentious policy removing fuel subsidy recently.

Two distinguished subscribers to LWD were asked to comment on the credentials of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr Jeffery Ramsbottom noted

I have been mightily impressed with her progress in the World Bank and in Nigeria over the years. Recent articles support this view. The Economist [ 31 March 2012] had a leader entitled “Hats off to Ngozi”. She had her own piece in the FT’s editorial page page on Tuesday 10 April which was not unimpressive and entitled “My vision for a World Bank that serves everyone”. President Obama He probably rushed out his nomination last week to pre-empt the charge by his potential Presidential candidate opponents of presiding over the decline of American influence in the world.

Dr Pikay Richardson noted

Yes, Ngozi has achieved remarkable progress at the World Bank. Highly qualified and very experienced with regard to the workings of the Bank and its territorial demands, she has proven herself.

Buggins Turn

For all the enthusiasm for the capabilities of Dr Okonjo-Iweala, the result has demonstrated the old principle of Buggins Turn. THis well-established piece of English terminology is attributed to Admiral Lord Fisher (ca 1901) to refer to the policy of appointing Government officials according to the principle of length of tenure rather than of competence. It has comed to mean appointment by any long-standing arrangements regardless of merit. Buggins’ turn decrees that the Presidency of the World Bank to be awarded to an American, and that of the International Monetary Fund to go to a European.

Will this weaken the Buggins Turn system in the future?

Possibly. The Buggins Turn appointments to date have not appeared to have left a legacy of successful leadership

Image of Dr Okonjo-Iweala is from The Nation, a leading newspaper dedicated to supporting in Nigeria “a return to fundamental principles of federalism, believing that it is the arrangement that can best advance the multifarious interests of citizens in a country of many nations and faiths.” The image of Dr Jim Yong Kim is from his wikipedia entry.

The rise and fall of Bo Jilai and Gu Kailai [Updated]

April 15, 2012

The fast-changing story is being updated here. An earlier post reviewed the accounts of the political demise of charismatic leader Bo Jilai and the prosecution of his wife and one-time celebrity lawyer Gu Kailai, for the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heyward, a friend of Bo.

The updated post draws on a wider set of information sources, including links with Chinese language sites where English language translations are available.

November 8th 2012

WEstern news reports indicate link between murdered businessman Neil Hayward and British security forces

October 26th 2012

Bo expelled from Parliament but unlikely to stand trial before upcoming elections

October 22nd 2012

Interesting debate on a wide range of issues , including the Bo Jilai affair

September 28th 2012

Bo Jilai expelled from the Chinese Communist party . Western reports drawing on sources within China suggest that dealing with Bo Jilai has become a major consideration within efforts to arrange a smooth transition to new leadership.

September 24th

The story continues with the trial and conviction of Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun for 15 years in prison finding him guilty of “bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking.”

August 2012

The post has been updated to report the series of events leading to Gu’s arrest for murder, and her being given a suspended death penalty. There is little news of Bo Jilai. Commentators inside China suggest there is little public coverage, and little sympathy for the victim who is portayed as involved in a financial scam or blackmail extorting money from Gu Kailai.

May 10th

Francis Fukuyama speculates that Bo was ousted on fears he might become ‘the next Mao’

The Indian Express challenges theory of Chinese resilient autocracy. (effective succession planning)

May 9th

Korea Times argues that the tensions in China including the Bo Xilai case may lead to ‘recalibrating’ of foreign policy towards North Korea

May 7th

New York Times evaluates Bo Xilai as brilliant…ruthless…[with a ] penchant for power and glory [which] earned him powerful enemies.

May 6th

More rumours of the defection of Police chief Wang which triggered the Bo Xilai political downfall.

[Posted in advance of cover date, May 14th by Time Magazine]. An in depth analysis argues that China’s move to technocratic leadership is becoming re-politicised

May 4th

Bo Xilai and Chen Guangchen stories examined by Voice of Russia for Eurasiaview

May 3rd

Thoughtful analysis of ‘The Bo Xilai crisis’ by The Toronto Star

May 1st

Western sources appear to contradict the story of Bo Guagua and the red Ferrari .

April 30th

Gu Kailai asked a British firm to accept a secret £150,000 over-payment and to use the money to pay her son’s school fees at Harrow, a former company director alleges

April 28th The Western media have shown diminished coverage of the Bo Xilai story. Attention has switched to his wayward son Bo Guagua. There is also some mention of Guagua’s half brother Li Wangzhi.

April 27th

Bo Guagua: Not a Ferrari but a Porsche says Wall Street journal

Details of the driving offences from the English version of Elenco Notizie, Italy.

April 26th

Western news reports claim Bo was involved in phone monitoring of China’s top politicians including President Hu Jintao

April 25th

Police chief Wang Lijun had told US officials that Mrs Gu was directly involved in Heyward’s murder by cyanide

Bo Guagua defends his life style in Harvard newsletter but avoids reference to the broader Bo Xilai story

April 24th

Other stories seem to be supplanting this one for global interest. The BBC China Round Up gives a dozen other URLs but no mention of the Bo Xilai one.

April 22nd

Reuters report [April 17th, 2012] China’s Bo backed, then blocked murder probe against his wife

April 21st

A US-based Chinese-language website that has reported extensively on the Bo Xilai scandal in China says it was crippled for several hours by a concerted hacking attack.

April 20th

A BBC TV report widens accusations against Bo Xilai.

April 19th

Business Week claims Bo Xilai Son Not in Custody, Remains at Harvard

NTV report based on Chinese websites examines mutual accusations between Bo Xilai and Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang. Photo of Zhou from Xinhua via Want China Times, Taiwan

As state officials attempt to control the story, the Chinese blogosphere has devised its own coded language to circumvent censorship.

April 18th
Prime Minister David Cameron and politburo member Li Changchun hold constructive talks in London.

Foreign Minister issues written statement about the Heyward case and is quizzed in Parliament.

BBC updates its reporting

April 17th

Western reports turn attention to lavish lifestyle of Go and Gu’s son, Bo Guagua. Image is of a Ferrari which crashed in Beijing and was allegedly that of Bo Guagua.

The Shanghaist considers the (British) Daily Telegraph a good source of information on the developing story of “our favourite playboy”, and reports his possible asylum bid being helicoptered from Harvard.

The BBC reports that Prime Minister David Cameron will raise the issue of Mr Heywood’s death today at a meeting in Downing Street to discuss trade, cultural and education links with politburo member Li Changchun.

New York Times also reports on story

April 16th

English East Day outlines official Chinese statement on the way the investigation into Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife Bogu Kailai has been conducted through the rule of law in China.

‘Unconfirmed’ reports in British tabloids such as the Daily Mail suggest Heyward had an affair with Gu Kailai

The Australian claims Heyward will be named a spy for MI6 based in contacts with intelligence gathering agency founded by former MI6 employee.

April 15th

Heyward’s death linked to murder by suicide

April 14th

More about the life style of Bo Guangua

April 13th

Freedomnewsgroup provides English language links of the developing story.

Daily Times of Pakistan reports that China has deleted thousands of online posts over ‘rumours’ and temporarily closed others for ‘rectification’.

A post from the Economist gives more background to the story

New York Times adds a few more details to earlier accounts

August 22nd

Bo Xilai goes on trial. A long-running drama reaches a critical stage.

Sept 22nd 2013

Bo Xi Lai trial trial ends with life sentence. Wall Street Journal assesses political implications

The rise and fall of Bo Jilai and Gu Kailai

April 12, 2012

The rise and fall of the charismatic political leader Bo Jilai provides an insight into political leadership processes in contemporary China. The story took on an additional twist with the prosecution of his wife and one-time celebrity lawyer Gu Kailai, for the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heyward, a friend of Bo.

Jonathan Fenby of the Guardian provides background to the story. [April 10th 2012]

Though he had cut a swath for the past five years with his promotion of his mega-city of Chongqing, complete with the singing of old patriotic songs, Bo was (a) too flamboyant and uncontrolled a figure to be tolerated by the consensus board that runs China, and (b) lacked solid factional support. He was too much of an individualist in a system that works by committee. Whatever fame it brought him, his ambition made him vulnerable in the end. [But] Bo fell because he was too much of a tall poppy and lacked allies – his handling of the fall-out from Heywood’s death in a Chongqing hotel room was also exceedingly clumsy.

Gu Kailai and the Neil Heywood murder case

The downfall of Bo was spectacular enough, but then the story took on a more sinister tone with the arrest of his wife Gu Kailai for the death of Neil Hayward

Gu, Bo’s second wife, seems to have much in common with her husband. Like him she is known as charismatic, eloquent and bold. She forged a high-profile career as a lawyer, which she bolstered with two books on her successes representing a well-known sports coach and Chinese firms challenging a US court judgment.
Like [her husband] she comes from party aristocracy: although her mother was descended from a famous Song dynasty minister, her father, Gu Jingsheng, was a renowned Communist general. But as her husband climbed the political ladder, Gu’s public profile declined dramatically. Bo told reporters last month [March 2012] that she gave up her career two decades ago so she could not be accused of benefiting from his position.

She is thought to have spent much of her time in the UK, where their son studied at Papplewick, a prep school in Ascot; Harrow and then Oxford University from 2000. It is understood Gu had suffered from depression in recent years, and it is thought she may also have sought treatment in Britain.

Heywood, who told friends he got to know the family after writing to several leaders in Dalian to introduce himself, said he had helped arrange [their son] Bo Guagua’s education. According to the Wall Street Journal, he was among a small group of friends and advisers on whom Gu relied in recent years.

The Guardian editorial

In a subsequent editorial, The Guardian described the developing story as evidence of irrevocable changes in China through its economic transition and the inevitable transparency of an era of Social Media.

What was it over? The investigation into the murder Neil Heywood, in which Bo’s wife Gu Kailai was strongly implicated? The rise of an opportunist princeling, who had turned a city with the population the size of Canada’s into a massive personal springboard to national fame? It took more than a month from the incident which started all this, the dramatic flight of Bo’s former ally and police chief Wang Lijun to the nearest US consulate, to the removal of Bo as Chongqing chief. Another few weeks elapsed until Bo was dismissed from the politburo. Obviously Wang’s allegations against his former boss had to be investigated. But there must also have been one big bust-up, as rival party barons settled scores over the seat in the standing committee that Bo will now never occupy.

The fall of Bo tells us about the ability of the communist leadership to manage change. The Brutal factional politics can no longer be concealed behind a screen. It is duplicated in real-time all over millions of them. The second is that, whether or not Bo’s fall was accidental or triggered by forces outside Chongqing, the myth that the grey, collective, consensus-led leadership can carry on business as usual has been temporarily dented, if not permanently shattered. The next generation of leaders faces such massive that it patently cannot carry on business as usual. Third, Bo’s rise and fall came amid a steady crescendo of debate about the need for reform, political as well as economic.

Through Western Eyes

I have drawn mostly on the excellent Guardian coverage of the breaking story. More information and video links can be found through the [US] lonedaysite. However, I am conscious of the perils of reporting only through the Western media sources. Through western eyes, accounts have the density of a John le Carré political novel and with a dash of Lewis Carroll.


The image of Bo and Gu is from where it is attributed to an internet photograph.