A story, a story, my kingdom for a story

Neil Stockley has often, and rightly, written about the power of stories in conveying a political message. It is a point Ed Maxfield and I also make in our book on political campaigning.

A dry recital of bullet points and decimal points may make for a good conference motion or a useful background briefing document. What it does not make for is a message that will move and convince people. It needs a story to bring it to life.

Last week I heard Norman Lamb talking to Twickenham and Richmond Liberal Democrats, at a fundraiser for Munira Wilson’s GLA campaign. His speech neatly illustrated the point. As he was getting into the flow, he veered perilously close to a Gordon Brown style recitation of statistics and dry facts.

But his comments then really came to life when he started talking about people and their own stories. The Pupil Premium stopped being a collection of expenditure numbers and became a story about a headteacher in his constituency, what that head was doing in their school and how the children were benefiting.

Lists have their place, especially when presented well (the thinking behind my infographic) but stories have the real power.

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