Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Narratives and constructs

OK, so it's something of an idee fixe with me, but I have noticed, especially since the aborted Election in the autumn, that the media have started to focus quite hard on the concept of political narrative and its importance in modern politics. This piece, in the Coffee House, touches on an excellent point, and highlights why narrative construction isn't quite as easy and foolproof as some might think.
One of Brown's key tactics is the fake narrative: cherry picking statistics to cast his years in No 11 in the best possible light. But his official version is now becoming so detached from what people experience and read about that it just sounds fake.
It is critical that the narrative created is both plausible and in tune with a more general trend. When William Hague tried to persuade us all that he was an absolutely normal person, with baseball caps and 14 pints of beer, it flopped because it was so incredible. When Brown tried to tell us over the summer that he was relaxed, inclusive and interested in a wide range of views and opinions, the narrative collapsed because it was so palpably not true. When Labour try and spin the present reality (of rising inflation and a rising cost of borrowing) it will fail because it just doesn't fit.

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