Before I read John Stewart's new book Prime Minister I wondered if I would be wasting my time reading it. After all what better way could there be to convince people that we need to improve on the way we handle public finances to achieve fairness and social justice than a step-by-step well reasoned non-fiction tome?
I was wrong. I did not waste my time. This novel reminded me that there are more ways of communicating than the full frontal blunderbuss approach of a carefully constructed intellectual exercise: covering all bases, answering all possible objections and forcing the reader in the end to be bowled over by the dazzling rhetoric (as if). We are nurtured as children on stories, such as Grimm's fairy tales, Jesus' parables or Cbeebies Everything's Rosie, so why not try a good story to get past the intellectual barriers thrown up when a person obviously rooting for a cause approaches?
In a novel the reader is allowed to dip in and out of conviction as to the theme - if there is one - because the plot carries them along regardless. Stewart manages to keep the reader's interest and teasingly reveals his ideas in dribs and drabs as the plot develops so that the theme is accepted more on the level of feelings than of logic. Because feelings, or even passion, is what drives those really committed to social justice, a novel is a very good place to start to convince the uncommitted. Benjamin Disraeli did it with Sybil or Two Nations in 1845. Stewart's book Prime Minister does it again now.
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Posted by Charles Bazlinton. Apart from being given a free review copy of the book, I have no financial interest in its success.