Politics wandering in the story desert

Footprints in desert

I’ve become more aware of story in the last few years. And it’s been ever clearer that recent UK national politics is all about story.

The Conservatives constructed a mythology and hammered it in with brutish repetition. Labour failed to build a distinctive story that people wanted to follow. The Liberal Democrats spoke about a middle ground – a space that was scarcely visible from outside.

UKIP told of the individual under siege by a hostile world. The Green Party (which is the closest fit for me) actually had a story of transformation, but made slow headway against the established counterstory of being fringe and cranky.

The traditional media pursued its own shiny stories. It decided what it wanted to tell and made it happen, bouncing between establishment and soap opera.

Now the Conservatives have been telling stories of control and betrayal. And Labour have a guy with kind of a story, but many of them are fighting to remain storyless.

We need a story that includes us as individuals and builds in our value and wellbeing. One of vision and aspiration for the country we live in. One that takes on and resolves the challenges of our time, rather than spinning them off into a corner where they make us uneasy. We want to be able to celebrate a journey where we overcame the obstacles in our way and emerged better for it.

There are people with the skills to help this happen. As the need grows, they are emerging and need our support. They understand the role of leader as guide.

I wish there were more of them in politics. But too many there are caught up in the corridors of their own little world, rather than steering by the stars of the wider one.

People need stories to make sense of their lives, to know what they’re part of, to see a good journey for themselves. That gap creates stress that manifests as fear and anger. We’ve been seeing it through the EU referendum. Maybe it’s an inevitable consequence of transitional times: that’s the big picture view. But people live in the small picture, and get hurt there.

If you have part of a better picture, don’t wait to tell it. And call for others to tell it too.


Scroll to Top