BJ and the One Percent Nation
by Chris Nash, with cartoon by Martin Gollan
So you voted with Facebook, not for the many, but the few,
For ‘the BJ’, his public school, anti-establishment crew,
Now thanks to an iPhone crony from Club Bullingdon
Let’s live-stream the election night, tax-payer celebration,
The feast of our humble representatives, the 1% nation;
Who’s got an invitation, it isn’t me and it isn’t you!
Intoxicated by fine wines and delectable thighs
How sweet this all tastes to a born to rule Tory,
victory dinners while the commons choke on austerity;
He’s speaking now, off the record, those visionary eyes...
Boasting ‘the economy, equality, everything’s on track
like our waiters this evening, everything’s back in the black,
Eat and drink till you’re puffed up to roll in a ditch
We’ll console ourselves with the burden of being rich.
At last it’s 1945 again, hurray, the clocks have all stopped
We’ve got Empire at the door to keep the table stocked,
provide plucky ethnic types to fight our future wars
No more picaninny faces, letter-box burqas on our shores’
A medley of media-fed lies made up the amuse-bouche
So refined they can’t digest anything resembling the truth;
Next industry dished up, spread about on cute canapés
Do you think it’s wages or dividends they’ll raise?
A gift Texas steak-carpaccio, our commonwealth NHS
Already sliced up in privacy, yes so easy to digest,
(Briefly, let’s cut to the workers in the Chequers kitchen
Skewered on zero-hour contracts, like waste-bits of chicken).
A financial crisis fricassee made up the second course
A delicacy of debtor brains, blown out on the Bourse,
Italian truffles, courtesy of the victor of Vote Leave
And a toast goes up, ‘To Beanfield and to Orgreave,
Crack working heads St Francis style, till they bleed.’
Over petit fours and assorted imported delicacies
They lick their lips, salivate and humbly debate
Their next steps to strangle 1945’s welfare state,
Sipping the Prosecco of their endless right to profit
‘Maggie showed the way, now we can finally off it’
They thought, passing around the cocaine and the port,
With media friends, to make ‘welfare’ a non-word of sorts,
The more to feed their addictions like fattening vultures
Scavenging shared public purses for privacy’s pleasures,
Yet screeching spoilt hypocrisies, ‘Oh, oh, the dependency culture’,
(Don’t we share what we have, with the people we treasure).
Then BJ introduced, with polished Etonian sincerity Five special guests, each a come-back celebrity,
Whose careers had dipped around 1950, mid-century
Thankfully back in fashion now, (all since the eighties):
First came a young girl, her face haggard and lank,
Want, the brand name behind your local food bank,
Next a mother, mind blank from opioids and stress
Disease, her sanity destroyed by austerity’s distress.
Then a boy, fist clenched from exclusion after exclusion
Educated Ignorance, for the fee-paying few, a freedom,
For the many, academy mind-closing childhood prisons,
After him a family, their life-nest terrorised by anxiety
The Squalor of infested rooms and rented insecurity,
Last Idleness, a youth, eyes glazed by the modern truth,
Permanently drugged-up to dull the daily monotony
Of taking his life as a spare part in their gig economy.
Can you see shivering ghosts pass in the shadows outside,
the unassuming architects of our commonwealth of ’45
Who turned their back on workhouse thinking for the poor
Reached out to the massed, struggling hands needing more
Never again a world without welfare, fit only for 1% wealth and war;
Ellen and Bevin, who hummed aloud songs, we sang in labour
Of our way, our her-story of the kindness of neighbours,
The humble builders of the better selves we aspire to be,
Now elbowed out of history, by BJ and his politico-celebrities
High on the age’s aphrodisiac, power without responsibility.
This BJ, pallid parasite, in borrowed Churchillian tones
And a crony crew of phoney Downton-politician drones,
They want us to forget, what should never be forgotten
Without your vote it’s lost, the new world the people won;
Spineless, sprawling Neo-Edwardians - they want it to return,
the glitter, the squalor, the dulce-decorum of nations at war.
wrecking common ground in unregulated patchwork provision
All loopholes for donors at dinner tables to wriggle in.
Before it’s gone, remember The People’s Project, begun 45-51,
It’s time to decide: ‘Hands together, let’s get the job done’;
We will speak, we the people, the commonwealth of Britain,
We’ll never be silenced, ‘a shared future calls us to come!’
This poem is brought to you by The National Poetry Board on behalf of the people of the commonwealth of Britain