for November 17 Stand Up to Racism National Unity demonstration against fascism and racism, London
By Chris Norris
A very British sort of coup,
That's how the thing began.
No soldiers on the street, a few
More cops, no master-plan
(Or so it seemed), same TV crew
Plus smiling anchor-man,
The tabloids quiet, with no to-do
As life went down the pan.
Not like those foreign coups, you know,
The sort you read about,
Where things get rough from the word go,
And where what started out
In barracks, beer-hall, or a show
Of rabble-raising clout
By some misfit went on to sow
The seeds of civil rout.
Of course we had our mini-Trumps,
Our BoJos and Rees-Moggs,
Our own much nastier Forrest Gumps,
And home-grown demagogues
Who wait till unemployment jumps
Then set their running dogs,
The press, to see that Britain dumps
On folk in foreign togs.
But no-one had the nerve to say
'We're heading up shit creek',
Or 'Armageddon's on the way',
Because from week to week,
And latterly from day to day,
As race-hate reached a peak,
We just tuned out and chose to stay
At home while skies grew bleak.
We stayed at home when conscience told
Us plainly 'Time to fight',
Till human lives were bought and sold,
Masked gunmen stalked the night,
And all the signs said: either hold
The line against these right-
Wing thugs or wake and find they've polled
Tops in the plebiscite.
Our local monsters seemed so tame,
Compared with those we saw
On foreign stages, that we came
To say 'That's the last straw!'
Each time they made some lying claim
Or spurned the rule of law,
Yet never squarely fixed the blame,
So served as their cat's-paw.
That's why so many didn't heed
The wake-up call, or skipped
The anti-fascist demo: we'd
All seen the way they whipped
Up hatred, spread their vicious creed,
And stuck to Hitler's script,
Yet deemed them fools and saw no need
To get their feathers clipped.
But now, too late, we clearly see
How dumb we were to think
Those goons a lesser threat since we
Fine folk – Left-Liberal Inc –
Just mocked their crass buffoonery
And too long failed to link
The mounting violence with the plea
Of those on terror's brink.
If only! – twenty/twenty hind-
Sight's such a splendid thing –
If only we'd the strength of mind
To fight, and not just cling
To comfort-nostrums of the kind
That left all us left-wing
Stay-homers in the same old bind
Of helpless witnessing.
If we'd been up in London when
The anti-fascists made
That last defiant protest, then
Who knows? we might have played,
Like Daniels in the lions' den,
The role of lead brigade
In swilling out the born-again
Hate-spawn the Fuehrer laid.
This poem and the accompanying image is taken from Chris Norris's forthcoming book The Trouble With Monsters, published by Culture Matters.