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Our politicians have lost the art of storytelling

German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck: speaking with moral force

There’s a dire lack of storytelling in modern British politics, says Andrew Marr in The New Statesman. By storytelling, I don’t mean lies. “I mean the duty of elected politicians to give their societies a sense of where they’re placed in the world, and where they’re heading.” Take Robert Habeck (above), the German vice-chancellor, who recently spoke with such moral force about “the danger of anti-Semitism to German democracy” that it brought a tear to the eye. (Watch his message in full here). Or Barack Obama, who has offered an “eloquent, realistic, sophisticated” take on current events in the Middle East.

Can anyone in Westminster provide a similarly “moral and intellectually coherent” interpretation of the world? This week’s King’s Speech was an incoherent jumble of topics. “Self-driving vans, bad Mick Lynch, cigarettes. Rapists. But not all rapists. Bang them up. Empty the prisons. Oil and gas licences. Also net zero.” Meanwhile, Keir Starmer is good at condemning “Tory chaos” but offers little on “why a Labour Britain will feel like a better place to live in”. What we need, now more than ever, are credible narratives about Britain’s future. Should we be “a potent, friendly satellite of the EU, or Little America”? Is it a “hopeless ambition” for a country of our size to turn away from Chinese-dominated globalisation? In the social media-driven “hunger for soundbites, snack-sized interviews and instant-response politics”, the bigger picture is being ignored.