British politics is just not sexy

I remember quite vividly Ashley’s Story, the 60 second video that brought George W. Bush in the White House for his second term in 2004. He doesn’t say anything but the video is memorable, motivating and feel-good. And I remember Barack Obama’s epic narrative, the identity, the timing, the metaphors and his new model of campaigning that made him the first ever African-American President of the United States.

Two different models of campaigning – the first one kept the old-age drama of threat, vengeance and salvation; the second one was the story of reconciliation that could unite a divided America – but one single way to deliver: create a story, don’t simply tick off a dry list.

Britons will be asked to cast their ballots in a month or so from now. I know, American and British politics are a million miles apart and it would be inappropriate to compare how the two countries deal with the res publica.

Although, a thing that strikes me the most when watching electoral debates from my privileged position as both a journalist and a foreigner, is the lack of narrative, of storytelling that permeates British politics.

In this electoral contest especially.

It is evident that these elections will be of paramount importance for the United Kingdom as we know them today and a lot will change after May 7th depending on who will result victorious. First and foremost because this won’t be just one election but a series (150 to be precise) of by-elections with very local issues. And because there are plenty of ‘existential questions’ for the UK that no politicians has yet addressed to make the electorate fully comprehend the massive importance of this electoral turnout.

The European membership and the role the UK will play with Brussels, Scotland, inequality and rising costs of living standards. These are just four of the issues at stake but both of the strongest candidates, Ed Miliband and David Cameron, are addressing these topics narrow-minded and with no narrative.

And with no story to tell and a clear crisis of authority, it will be impossible for the two candidates to convince the marginal voters and play tactics.

Of course, I don’t want British politics to turn into the schizophrenic American way of campaigning, nor into the dysfunctional Southern-European model of promising-and-never-delivering. But candidates – and their spin-doctors – should start adapting to the era we live in and stop managing their parties and dealing with the elections as if still was the 20th century.

In other words, sex it up – because we’re falling asleep around here.


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