The trouble with political narratives…

So, here’s a line worth repeating.

The trouble with a political narrative, however, is that living up to some or most of it is not enough. Any deviation is noticed and there is none quite as flagrant as the government’s immigration policy.

Janan Ganesh notes that age old problem in politics, how to tell a great story and be truthful at the same time? Do read the whole thing

  • Thank you, Mr Fealty, for the pointer.

    A meaty article, which needs some pondering — the subsequent comments are equally revealing, if only to show even the FT attracts bigots.

    At first sight, what caught me was:

    Opinion polls consistently show deeply conservative views on immigration but the Tories played the nativist card in 2001 and 2005; they not only lost but acquired a stench of misanthropy that has never entirely faded. Even modernisers such as Mr Cameron only half-grasp the lesson: a policy can be popular and still lose votes if it confirms underlying suspicions about a party’s character. Labour can harden its position on immigration without danger to its image and Ed Miliband is doing exactly that. A Conservative has nothing like the same latitude.

    The nativist card? Ho, hum. Unless someone can instruct me to the contrary, that’s back to the US in the 1840s and 1850s. Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia (20 dead) and new York (Archbishop Hughes rallying the defence of Mott Street).

    Can we draw a parallel between the “Know Nothings” of 1849 and the latter-day saints of the Tory Party?

  • David Crookes

    Thanks to both Mick and Malcolm. The unwritten Tory catechism begins by declaring that man’s chief end is to have a Conservative government. I reckon that Mr Cameron will do ANYTHING to detach himself from the LibDems and win a majority for his own party at the next election. Expect to hear more anti-Romanian and anti-Bulgarian noises.

    (Here is a lesson that NI’s unionists have learned. The Tory party will make soup out of its friends and its principles if it sees the need to do so.)

    In their hearts many Tory politicians believe in Europe exactly as in their hearts many DUP politicians believe in power-sharing. They don’t.

  • So, if immigration controls:
    — run contrary to the “political narrative” (which, sotto voce, Janan Ganesh implies is flogging UK military hardware to the Middle East and India),
    — don’t work as an economic policy (which is self-evident),
    — are damaging British interests and image,
    — are costing higher education both income and talents,
    — won’t be enforced against the new accession countries,
    — don’t sell (pace Milord Ashcroft);
    — but contribute only to the “nasty party” image,
    — and appeal malignly to a certain kind of bovine backbencher,
    what have we got except being neurotic?

    Did I miss anything?

  • David Crookes

    Going for the bovine vote! Often a safe option.

    Germans talk about the ‘Stimmvieh’ ( = the vote-beast, or the fatuous electorate).

    The Daily Express leader-writers tell us every so often that the UK would be better off outside the EU. What will they say if under their influence the UK leaves the EU, and things get economically worse?

    Power without responsiblity. Youse know the rest.