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Developing an Effective Political Narrative

Following the 2016 EU referendum and US presidential election there has been renewed interest in the concept of political narratives and the power of storytelling. 

One of the main aims of a political narrative is to shape the public narrative, namely the stories that people share about themselves, their communities, and what needs to be done. The transmission of stories, the political storytelling, is only the first step. The real power of political narratives resides in their retelling.

From a review of the research, outlined in my book 'The Fall of the Red Wall', it is clear that for a political narrative to be powerful and influence the public narrative it should:

  • Reflect themes and narratives the audience is already familiar with 

  • Connect the past and the present with an imagined future

  • Align with the audience’s perceptions of reality

  • Be capable of being understood, discussed, and retold in everyday language

  • Enable the audience to identify with the narrator or the story

  • Confirm rather than negate the audience’s sense of collective and individual identity

  • Support the overall narrative arc by combining multiple stories that are mutually reinforcing

  • Be capable of being conveyed as a concise narrative