Sometimes – history needs a push – Vladimir Lenin

Elections change the picture frame of politics but the canvas is being painted on every day by a mixture of regulators, judges, campaign groups, academics and journalists.  Sometimes politicians make sweeping brush strokes with legislation.  Yet the painting is always the product of many artists.  If you want to change the picture then you have to be willing to energetically engage with all the artists.

The left understands this better than the right.  Early last century, the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci said an alternative world view was needed to unify civil society behind political change. After World War Two, the German activist Rudi Dutschke developed this theory by calling for “a long march through the institutions.”

The modi operandi of many of the great intellectual movements of the past fifty years has been a tribute to this thinking.  The economic left, the environmental left and feminism have achieved huge influence by building exclusionary overarching narratives and marching through the institutions.

The lesson for clients: political influence is the product of drawing up a stakeholder map and then systematically engaging with all the players.  The winners are persistent, taking the time to build their alliances.