5

ODE to 2018

W Stephen Gilbert, in the manner of Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope on Theresa May’s Conservative government.

It fogs the mind that Century Twenty-One
Already has a sixth of its span run.
Those born in the first months of the millennium
Can vote – all we can do is to pinchpenny ’em.
The hope is slim they ever can afford
To own a home. It seems a poor reward
For working internships and zero-hours,
No job security as came with ours.
I’m thankful for the age when I was young –
The Swinging Sixties, long gone, fully swung.
We won in ’64: three hearty cheers.
We followed thirteen wasted Tory years.
Then ’97 had a sense of mission.
We’d weathered eighteen years of opposition.
Now we’ve been out again since Twenty-Ten.
We must avoid as long a wait again.
To regain power we all must pull together,
Not be distracted by a load of blether
About who best embodies our great cause
And risk defeat snatched out of vict’ry’s jaws.

What we most want’s an imminent election
Wherein we can express our deep objection
To Tory government and all its works,
To May’s crass leadership and to the berks
Who came to and then went from her front bench,
Most of them leaving us with quite a stench
Of various wrong-doing, like bad cheese,
What under John Major was known as sleaze.
Rudd’s back and others may eye up the Lords
But some have simply … Fallon on their swords.
Now, if we earnestly wish to unseat
Them, we must all sing from the same hymn sheet.
The Labour Party, we know, is broad church,
Which means in practice it’s most apt to lurch
From Social Democrat to full-blown Trot
And back again. And it does this a lot,
Instead of turning fire against the Tories,
Which is a lot less fun than civil war is.

Corbyn will put his foot down, or he might.
Called to his very face “anti-Semite”,
He didn’t rise, he turned the other cheek.
That’s dignified – or is it merely weak?
He wields a stick and Westminster’s abuzz,
Damned if he doesn’t, and damned if he does.
Momentum members know what they’ve expected –
That dissidents will all be deselected.
There was a call, more like one of Rees-Mogg’s
But made to Corbyn: “Come, call off your dogs!”
Thereby the dissidents were given succour
By that man whose name – Chukka – rhymes with … mucker.
Momentum’s founder-leader is Jon Lansmann
Who hardly could be deemed a Ku Klux Klansman
But on the Jewish question he’s been critical
Of Corbyn – some might call him jesuitical.
Not quite a fitting term that, in the circs.
Is going your own way among the perks
Of leadership? Corbyn thinks it hypocrisy
To discount members’ views: that’s not democracy.
He chose remaining in the referendum
Against his own instincts. He did suspend ‘em.
It’s no secret. There’s nothing there to probe.
His long-held view is clearly Europhobe.
Now he respects the verdict of the ballot
As democratic – which is hard to palate
By those who claim the leave voters were lied to
And given one more chance they will decide to
Reverse their votes: a forecast full of holes
Because it’s based upon opinion polls,
Whose record recently – it’s undeniable –
Has been the opposite of what’s reliable.
Last year’s result was one none had forecasted.
Back to the drawing board, boys – what a bastard!

The Tories still held power, if only croakily.
They seem to hold on better when it’s locally.
Swindon’s among our party’s prime projections.
Some of us canvassed there in the elections,
Hoping to put the council to the sword.
Our sole success was in the very ward
Where we had leafleted – so that was good,
But now we want both Commons seats … touch wood.
Well, as we speak the government may fall
Or maybe not, but it’s May’s closest call.
She has invested all her hope in Brexit,
But what will happen when her party wrecks it?
“Deal or no deal” was asked by Panorama
And then there’s the six tests set by Keir Starmer.
She couldn’t meet those, we knew all along.
Her leadership’s not stable, it’s not strong.
For party sentiment she has no feel –
Sceptic MPs are her Achilles heel.
Theresa’s fate has generated screeds
Of commentary, but clearly what she needs
Is to get rid of those whose best advice is
“To get on with the job” itself suffices
As governmental policy, when sadly
Most voters think the job is done so badly.
Backbenchers too – she won the Tory vote
But not so comfortably that she could gloat.
She’s a dead woman walking, quoth Osbourne.
She’s dogged, some say, but say it with scorn.

For Labour it should be an open goal
And it would be if Corbyn could control
His dissident backbenchers who promote
Blairism and the so-called People’s Vote.
Diehard remainers loudly feel betrayed
But so do leavers who say they’re afraid
That Twenty-Sixteen’s Referendum win
Will disappear as if it’s never bin.
The options leave some voters quite aghast,
They start to yearn for leaders of the past
Of whom rose-coloured spectacles see skills un-
Paralleled – for instance, Harold Wilson,
Whose truest line, perhaps his only true one –
Remember, he’s the only leader who won
Four national elections, so it’s prime:
“A week in politics is a long time”.
And now we know as May’s EU fog clears
How very long is two-and-a-half years.

This month has only added to the mess –
The “meaningful vote” has turned meaning-less.
Uncertainty is everybody’s bugbear
Though it suits Boris, lurking like a smug bear
And ready to trap something with his paw
So he can eat and give a mighty roar
And challenge for the Tory leadership
Before the dwindling chance slips from his grip.
Is what drives him ambition or mere malice?
Does he know leadership’s a poisoned chalice?
Cassandras warn of an impending slump.
It could be worse. We could have Donald Trump,
Whose favourite term for coverage – fake news –
Despite ourselves is one we’re apt to use
When in so many words we too condemn
What we see as the biased MSM.
“What’s that?” you cry. “Where’s the encyclopedia?”
MSM is merely the mainstream media.
So press barons like Rothermere and co
Make sure their titles let their readers know
They’re utterly opposed to Labour policies.
The Barclay Brothers, say, whose major solace is
To live tax-free on Monaco and Sark,
Using their titles like an oligarch
To undermine Labour’s voter appeal
So they may make their millions and conceal
Them off-shore where they can cover their tracks
Avoiding that thing that they most hate: tax.
Their papers frankly loathe the Labour movement.
The Guardian is hardly an improvement.
Its commentators rubbish Corbyn’s stances
And pour their tired old scorn upon his chances
Of winning. These are just hypotheses
Meant to be self-fulfilling prophecies.
Does this reverse their falling circulation?
Hardly. They daily ask for a donation.
And then of course there is the BBC,
An institution we love, you and me,
But lack of bias, enshrined in its charter,
Is widely seen as being a nonstarter.
In any trial of bias, the discoverment
Would show the BBC close to the government.
And Kuenssberg, the Beeb’s Westminster-based editor
Is widely viewed as something of a predator.
No Labour MP gets as soft a run
As Rory Stewart does on World at One.
We note the MSM’s consensual view
Is simply that Labour’s not got a clue.
However often we state our position,
The only view of us that gains transmission
Is we’re confused or we’re afraid to strike.
They’ve no notion what politics is like.
Well, it’s analogous to verse, to rhyming,
The secret’s in the rhythm, in the timing.
A government no-confidence division
Requires some Tories to reach the decision
That their leader has sold them all a pup
That won’t survive, that now the game is up.

Whatever happens – deal, no deal, remain –
We shall recover, we will dowse the pain.
When battle’s over, banners are refurled,
We’ll have to start to deal with the real world.
And though the prospects may look deeply cryptic,
We can’t assume they’ll be apocalyptic.
We’ll still be trading “sur le continong”,
We stlll will sing a Eurovision song.
The EU countries still will be our neighbours,
Whether our government is May’s or Labour’s.
We think of EU officers as brusque,
But here’s the sweet vale from Donald Tusk
Whose wish was ours and also Mrs May’s:
“We will remain friends till the end of days”.


W Stephen Gilbert has been a writer, journalist and sometime television producer since 1971, when his first play appeared in the first season of Play for Today on BBC1. His books include first biographies of Dennis Potter and Jeremy Corbyn. He mostly passes his twilight years indexing other writers’ books.

Filed under: Arts, Arts and Entertainment, featured, latest, Satire & Humour, UK

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W Stephen Gilbert has been a writer, journalist and sometime television producer since 1971, when his first play appeared in the first season of Play for Today on BBC1. His books include first biographies of Dennis Potter and Jeremy Corbyn. He mostly passes his twilight years indexing other writers’ books.

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J.
J.

But for all the anger and argument
Few recognise this as an opening event
History is about to take great speed
And trample all beneath its mighty stead
Brexit was a mere opening shot
This truth, only the few so far have got
Truly all that’s solid is melting into air
The elites lies are exposed, uncovered, laid bare

Kathy
Kathy

Out with the old .
In with the new.
May love, peace, health,wisdom and contentment. Be with all here and beyond.
May this year herald a new dawn of harmony. An end to wars and bring true humanity .
Thank you Off Guardian for the work you do.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

Methinks a few drinks on New Years Eve
Produced this ditty
That we can take or leave.
Have a healthy, safe 2019 folks.

binra

Behind the meet of parley-ment
the backroom deals of mal-intent
all checked account to circumvent
by guile and sly experiment
to capture and present
a narrative distortion bent
on framing global government.

Not by reasoned argument
or even meaning what is meant
for such is the predicament
in thinking framed so to prevent
all recognition of events
by doublethink that represents
mind reversed as making sense
wielding terror and pretence
manufactured experience
of war and sickness management
indentured, exhausted, overspent
to sell our soul for some fragment
of grasping dreams to represent
a substituted replacement
for loss of true fulfilment
to faithless self impoverishment.

Happy release of the old mind!
May the new reveal itself in its own terms.
within the meet of true parley meant.

Paul
Paul

I agree 1968 – of all years! – had a more optimistic feel about it. But we were younger. Happy 2019 anyway, you guys do a great job. Thanks.