Narration Nation Week 3: Come the Resolution!

So is Corbyn our Mocking J?

The cat sat on the mat is not a story”,  says the distinguished author John Le Carré.  “The cat sat on the dog’s mat is”.   That’s the essence of storytelling and why it works.   You start with a problem and then discover how – or if – it’s resolved.

All stories are about disrupting the status quo and what happens when you do. They are propelled by uncertainty and doubt. That’s why they hook us. We’re hard-wired to fear disruption.  Somewhere in our brain we think the cat is us – and we’re at risk. So we need to know, for our own survival, what comes next.

Politicians want to hook us, especially at election times.  And there’s no better way than through stories that first create anxiety and then promise to take it away.

This election was only called, Teresa May tells us, because dissent at Westminster was endangering our nation.   Never mind the competing narrative that says dissent in Westminster is the foundation of our nation, in this telling Teresa May presents herself as the only one who can restore stability and put the cat where it belongs, firmly back on its [Union Jack] mat.   This has been the narrative and promise of ‘strong’ leaders through the ages, including that moustached Chancellor who promised a disorientated Germany a thousand years of stability.  Hey, it’s a story formula that works.

With its new “for the many, not the few” manifesto Labour just signalled the problem is The Elite.  They’re tearing a page out of the Hunger Games, where the hedonistic Capital dwellers feast in luxury (and Versace) while the proletariat’s children die for their sport. Corbyn, our own bearded Mocking Jay – is pledging to storm the citadel and reset the social contract. And may the odds ever be in our favour.

The Lib Dem focus squarely on the disruptor that is a Hard Brexit.  We’re a bus careening towards a cliff and they are the only ones who are screaming to hit the brakes.  Personally, it’s a story that is most compelling to this member of the audience, but I have to say they remind me a little of the final scene in Italian Job where the bus is already half over the cliff and Michael Caine perks up with a hopeful… “hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea”.

The thing about stories is they are fictional.  The danger is imagined and therefore entertaining, like being  ‘tickled with a dagger’.   But when politicians tell their stories in an Election like this, it’s worth remembering the consequences are real, the stakes are really high and that cat on the dog’s mat actually IS us.

What’s your favourite example of the Problem/Resolution story this week?  Which politician has sought to alarm and then soothe you to win your vote?  Make your suggestion below and you could win a free, signed copy of my new paperback Story for Leaders

6 thoughts on “Narration Nation Week 3: Come the Resolution!

  1. The election in the UK has places a dismal selection of leaders in front of us:

    Teresa May. Previous experience, failing to deal with immigration during her time at the Home Office. Now promoted, and applying her failed approach to the entirety of our future relationship with the EU. She got the job because everyone else with more talent had run away. The core of the Conservative election manifesto is based on a copy and paste of UKIP’s agenda, with references to Nigel Farage tipped out. The main manifesto additions to UKIP’s policy are tax rises for all Brexit voters, particularly white van man and his dementia riddled parents.

    Jeremy Corbyn. Only experience, ineffective opposition and impractical idealism. Leadership was clearly never amongst his skill set, and this is a characteristic he stands behind. Having been twice overwhelmingly voted to lead the Labour Party, he considers it his moral duty to fanatically fight to the last MP. It’s all reminiscent of WW2 Japanese held Pacific islands where the Americans had to exterminate just about every last defender as the concept of surrender was forbidden. As to Labour’s manifesto, what does it matter, the whole thing is a waste of trees. They might as well have printed it on rolls of toilet paper and saved recyclers the impending chore. For all its laudable ambition and good intention, it’s never going to be implemented.

    Tim Who ? Previous experience, surviving the apocalypse of the last Lib Dem election cull. Remember Lehman Brothers form the financial crash. It’s as if the organisations had somehow survived getting its head office nuked. With most of the survivors emerging from a deep sub-basement where useless employees had previously been placed to prevent them interfering with the efficient operation of the bank above. So it was that 8 Lib Dems emerged from the wreckage, clothes torn, carrying the shattered, but not dead, body of their fallen leader. Unfortunately no one mentioned to poor Tim that he should step aside once Nick’s broken pride and confidence had been restored. As to their manifesto, despite its good intentions, it has been printed on confetti.

    David Pearl, are you free to create some potential leaders we can happily vote for ?

    • I am. And will report for duty. Meanwhile I believe there is a post for you as head of communication at Number 10. Or possible White House. Something about your natural sympathy for politicians.

  2. Hello David, my favourite of the week has got to be the, as yet unresolved, Tory story of becoming the party championing workers rights and essentially trying to sit on Labour’s mat.

  3. Loving this series David. My recent favourite ‘resolution’ story comes from across the pond. It’s widely rumored that there may have been some collision between the dog and the cat, where a Canine Putin may have helped a Feline Trump to sit on his mat – presumably a red one. Just a few weeks ago we were led to believe that US-Russian relations had reached an ‘all time low’ in the aftermath of the US Syrian sabre rattling. The Cuban Missile crisis was clearly just a minor tiff in comparison. Then only last week we saw the red carpet (to match the mat) rolled out for Sergei Lavrov at The White House as if he and the peacemaker Trump were old friends. Perhaps the FBI investigation will tell us just how old this friendship really is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *