Maurice Glasman is among those who thinks Labour needs a narrative:
When it comes to politics, the entertainer Max Bygraves is a better guide than the philosopher René Descartes. “Let me tell you a story” is a better path to political power than rational policy prescriptions...
The problem for Labour is not that it lacks policy but that it lacks a narrative of national renewal.
One of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's useful contributions was to popularize the idea of the "narrative fallacy". In constructing stories and seeing patterns we are apt to overlook details. As M.L.J Abercrombie pointed out, people are apt to misread the words in the triangle because they impose a scheme - a narrative - upon them; this is why proof-reading is such a great skill.
A similar thing happens in politics. For example, the narrative of Thatcherism - which was constructed very much ex post - sees Thatcher as, depending on taste, either as a libertarian hero or as a mad axewoman. But in fact, she was neither; public spending in the Thatcher years grew steadily.
I fear, though, that narratives don't just warp our historical perceptions but also our real-time perceptions of politics. Government is not about imposing a grand narrative or vision onto society - or certainly not just about that. It's also about the day-to-day gruntwork of good administration and about responding to "events, dear boy." Just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, so political narratives don't survive contact with power. The politician who thinks narrative is enough will end up like Iain Duncan Smith, clinging to a narcissistic self-image whilst his projects collapse.
But it's not just events and detail that undermine narratives. So too do the brute facts of capitalism. In the mid-90s, part of New Labour's narrative was "the creation of a stakeholder economy which involves all our people, not a privileged few*." But in fact, the subsequent two decades have seen an increased concentration of income and power into the hands of a privileged few.
Good politicians will campaign in lies. But they must govern in truth. A narrative might be a useful campaigning tool. But it is not necessarily a guide to govenment.
* Speech at Derby Assembly Rooms, 18 January 1996 in Tony Blair: New Britain: My Vision of a Young Country, p293