Tuesday 8 April 2008

Missing narrative

For goodness sake. Why is it that our London mayoral campaigns are so bad at projecting any kind of big idea or vision?

I’ve just watched Brian Paddick, an excellent candidate in so many ways, on the Newsnight debate. His opening statement raised a couple of problems, notably knife crime, but offered no believable solution. Even his passionate explanation at the end about what he would do about knife crime was too bland and unspecific to seep into people's minds. In fact, the kind of local partnership between police and neighbourhoods is exactly what was done so successfully in New York, and Brian should have said so far more explicitly.

Nor has there been any distinctive analysis about what’s gone wrong with London: the greedy decision by Livingstone to add another million people to the population of London, with predictable results for transport and public services.

Why is it that politicians, and Lib Dems in particular, are so naive about this - that somehow, just by mentioning a few problems, people will suddenly vote for them? Or that anyone will remember what they say when they haven't the faintest idea what they exist for?


Tristan said...

Very true.

And it seems that the only people developing any sort of narrative are the BNP (perhaps UKIP - but that's mostly 'Europe is the cause of all our ills') and they gain from that I am sure.

Liberalism has a wonderful narrative, but it feels like we're scared to promote it, even though I think most LibDems would ascribe to it - we want to empower individuals to take control of their lives and to allow voluntary communities to flourish. That requires the liberal economic tradition and individual freedom.

Neil Stockley said...

I agree with you David.

Of the Denning steps in building a story, Brian Paddick has attracted some attention and made the negative case for change (anti-Livingstone, anti-Johnson) but not the positive one for himself. Hehasn't reinforced it with reasons for change -- usually, these are views or policies, but presented as self-contained stories, with a problem then an acessible solution. Kevin Rudd did all this brilliantly in Australia last year.

And Tristan, what you describe is an aim or part of our philosophy. It's not a narrative.