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Jackanory Politics

Tony Blair at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, 2006
Tony Blair mastered the art of narrative in politics
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Jackanory Politics will be broadcast on Thursday, 21st February 2008 at 20:30 and repeated on Sunday 24th February at 21.30 GMT

“We need a narrative” was the mantra of Tony Blair’s key advisers whenever they wanted to implement a new policy or explain their party’s response to events.

The ability to tell stories in politics, they realised, would make their messages memorable and help them appeal to the electorate on an emotional level.

Political storytelling

Some Conservative politicians too have adopted the narrative approach to winning public support.

Daniel Finkelstein, a former adviser to William Hague tells presenter Frances Stonor Saunders how reading a book aimed at screenwriters and documentary makers dramatically changed his approach to politics.

But is storytelling getting in the way of truth and rational decision making?

Frances Stonor Saunders
Frances Stonor Saunders

Frances Stonor Saunders finds that the desire for a dramatic narrative arc can sometimes lead us to ignore the humdrum but important facts.

Find out if there’s a happy ending…

Interviewees include:

· Lord Gould of Brookwood, former adviser to Tony Blair.
· Robert McKee, story telling expert, author of Story and former screenwriter.
· Drew Westen, Professor of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, USA and author of The Political Brain.
· Daniel Finkelstein, columnist on The Times and former adviser to William Hague.
· Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor.
· Robert Halfon, former policy adviser to Conservative front bench.
· Richard Maxwell, First Voice story-telling consultancy and co-author with Robert Dickman of The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling Techniques to Pitch Better, Sell Faster, and Win More Business.
· Kevin McConway, Senior Lecturer in Statistics, The Open University.

Presenter: Frances Stonor Saunders
Frances is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of, amongst other works, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War.

Producer: Innes Bowen
Editor: Hugh Levinson




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