Charm Offensive

July, it’s time to get a grip.
Right now, I have this Europe trip.
No other Pres – I am unique –
could do three summits in a week.
NATO, UK (that’s on its knees),
then Russia. That’ll be a breeze.

First, NATO. Obsolete, maybe –
they want support, won’t pay the fee.
Germany’s under Russia’s thumb,
that pipeline deal is really dumb.
May’s saying “Salisbury poison, yes?”
Wants me to pester Putin. Bless.

I cancel meetings, come in late,
disrupt agendas – let them wait.
The reason why I play it rough?
We need to sort the finance stuff.
I want all payments brought in line -
the target’s now two oh one nine.
I tell the press “That’s down to me”
but Merkel, Macron don’t agree.
The date, they say’s, two two oh four –
Exactly what it was before.  

Another plane, another day
and then it’s on to the UK. 
Although the people wanted out
looks like they took a different rout.
I gave Theresa some advice.
Too brutal, maybe. She’s so nice.
I told The Sun. They didn’t choose
to print it. Like I say, fake news.
What’s that? Their transcript’s down the line?
Sure, it was generally fine.
I liked the Boris Johnson part.
The guy’s a friend. That’s from the heart.
Like I told Piers, they love me here
‘cos I see immigration clear.
So, will I stand again? Might do
since everybody wants me to.

The highlight? Windsor Castle, tea.
I’ve kept the footage. There, d’you see?
Fantastic woman, blows my mind…
That’s me. She’s walking just behind.
What did she say? “This Brexit stuff
is complex…”maybe that’s enough.
Queen talk is what you don’t repeat,
that right? Not even in a tweet?

Then back to Turnberry. Love these greens.
So many memorable scenes.
Protestors and supporters. Sheep.
Five million pounds of policing’s cheap.
Two years ago, I’m sure it’s there
I sensed some changes in the air.
The day before on Brexit eve,
I said UK would vote to leave.
What’s that? There’s a correction. Hey,
turns out it was the following day.
Time to move on. I don’t regret
a thing, but still I shan’t forget
that look on sad Theresa’s face:
“You’ll ask about the Skripal case?”

US and Russia? Tricky stuff.
We haven’t been in touch enough.
Mistakes on both sides. Clear the air,
so Putin summarized, real clear,
on Syria, Iran, Crimea.
Co-operation in the main
but not too much about Ukraine.
And novichok? The Salisbury crime?
Never came up. There wasn’t time.

There’s talk of treason. That’s a joke.
Ok, so maybe I misspoke.
Would/wouldn’t…it’s so hard to guess
like girls whose No means maybe Yes.
Tore up the rule book? Well, OK.
What counts is what the voters say.
My fan-base sees, my fan-base knows,
just listen to the call-in shows.
Stuff diplomatic niceties –
they’d rather have a plate of fries
This woman rang to show support.
I’d like to share her parting thought:
“If they’re what kept out Hillary
thank God for Russia. Fine by me.”

Just Managing

So here’s to Gareth Southgate, an unassuming chap
We know when he’s appointed that he’s there to plug a gap.
He used to manage Middlesbrough who never won a thing
But now Big Sam has blown it in a journalistic sting.

It’s not the easiest job to take, the press are on your back
They’ll tell you where the team went wrong, they’ll list the skills you lack.
The Wembley crowd are vicious, add Twitter to the mix
Then worst of all that dread refrain – “Remember ’66?”

But Gareth’s not distracted, he does the job his way
He’s managed England’s younger teams, he knows these kids can play.
Forget big reputations, forget about the past
Create a style that suits the team, that’s skilful, fluid, fast.

No rampant solo egos, no stars who think they’re God
But a diverse mix of talent where what matters is the squad.
England with added teamwork, a sight we’ve seldom seen,
Defence, midfield, strikers - a smoothly oiled machine.

Tunisia is the first game – it’s one we’re meant to win.
We make a lot of chances but only one goes in.
They get the softest penalty; should we prepare for pain?
Just keep the faith, and at the end thank God for Harry Kane.

Next up is Panama and there's been talk about the heat
But the hottest things in this display are the England forwards’ feet.
There’s Jesse Lingard scampering, they’ve still not caught him yet,
A slick one-two with Sterling and a screamer finds the net.

They have this neat free-kick routine, from left to right and back,
Though Sterling’s shot is saved there’s Stones to head us back on track.
Manhandling means two penalties no matter what they say
Bang in the top left corner Kane blasts them both away.

He’s been a World Cup extra who never played a game
So Gareth keeps the squad involved, he treats them all the same;
They try to keep the structure, to press and move and pass
But even Belgium’s second team are still a different class.

Colombia is different, we dominate the play
But they have passionate support, they’re fighting all the way;
There’s fouls and provocations, to which we mustn’t rise,
Maybe Kane’s pen will be enough – and then they equalize. 

Our genius commentators are in their rut again
“But England haven’t blah blah blah since God alone knows when.”
They’ve still not got the message that this is something new;
As Gareth tells the players “Your story’s down to you.”

They’ve done the preparation, detailed analysis;
They trust in Pickford’s strong left hand, and Dier doesn’t miss.  
So yes, we’ve won on penalties, we’ve won a knockout game
We’re in uncharted territory where things won’t be the same. 

A nervy start with Sweden, we pass it into touch,
That free and flowing football that we wanted – not so much.
But those dead-ball rehearsals deliver bang on cue;
Two headed goals, some tough defence, and Pickford sees us through.

Now Gareth spreads the praise around, he credits all the staff,
He knows that if you work that hard you have to have a laugh;
Magnanimous in victory, he’s not the crowing type
He shares the moment with the fans but disregards the hype.

We could have reached the final, we had them on the run
Though Trippier’s goal’s a beauty it’s still the only one.
We’re looking fast and confident, the movement is sublime
If only we could freeze it, not go beyond half-time.

We start to lose it, lose it all, composure, skill and breath;
Croatia equalize and then they nick it at the death. 
They’ve won two penalty shoot-outs, they’re canny, hard as nails,
They ought to be exhausted but experience prevails.

Would the sunshine last for ever? Could the lads go all the way?
We know there’ll be a reckoning in the bitter light of day.
And Southgate's boys are gutted, they feel they’ve failed a test
But we’ll remember this World Cup for England at their best.  

They’re playing to a pattern but it’s not a rigid scheme
They understand the way it works, they know there’s room to dream.
They think ahead, they play at pace, they aim to keep the ball
They celebrate, communicate, enjoy it – best of all.

He’s a winner in a waistcoat, a maestro with a plan.
Who set the tone, who picked the team? It’s Southgate. He’s the man.
He’s modest and he’s decent but we sing his praises loud
‘Cos Gareth’s given us a squad of which we can be proud. 

 

 

 

                                      Paul Francis     francisliberty@btinternet.com

The Hard Sell

“We’re Cambridge Analytica, we’ve many cunning schemes;
If you’re running an election we can realise your dreams.
We hoover up the data, the nasty and the nice,
Our targeting of messages is deadly and precise.
We feed stuff in the bloodstream and then we watch it grow
But where those rumours came from no-one will ever know.
We’re the ultimate consultants, more hi-tech than the rest
And our fee is on the steep side – because we are the best.
You can pay it by instalments, you can pay it in a lump
But you know that we’ll deliver, just like we did for Trump.

Deter the opposition – we say ‘inoculate’ –
By conjuring up a vision of violence and hate:
‘Don’t bother with the ballot, the things they say aren’t true.’
We did it in Nigeria, and this could work for you. 
Our managing director is a master of disguise,
Pretends to be a businessman and tells persuasive lies.
We make outrageous offers and film them all the while
Then threaten with exposure – it’s blackmail, with style.

You need a tasty titbit, the smear that’s going to hurt?
We can supply the experts at digging for the dirt.
Ex-spies, UK and Israel, will go through private stuff
And manufacture scandal, if digging’s not enough.
We offer leisure holidays, in Southern France and Spain;
Complete your victim’s pleasure, with girls from the Ukraine.

Don’t worry. There’s no comeback. There’ll be no trace of blame.
We shift our deals to other firms and often change the name.
We worked in Eastern Europe; our hand was never seen –
Slipped underneath the radar and no-one knew we’d been.
Our network of connections is spread out far and wide
There’s academic projects within which we can hide.
You say you’re from Sri Lanka? No problem. Who would care
If we crossed another border? Deceit sans frontières.
Stuff that’s believed may not be true. Sounds bad – don’t get me wrong.
Here’s hoping our relationship is secretive and long.
It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I’ll walk you to the door.
Sorry? What’s that you’re telling me? You work for Channel 4?

These claims are quite outrageous. You’ve gone too far this time.
We always work within the law. Entrapment is a crime.
‘Have we no trace of conscience? Who ordered dirty tricks?’
The answer to both questions is identical. It’s ‘Nix.’ “

Top Man

Harrumph, Harrumph, I’m Humphrys, I call a spade a spade
I’m almost indispensable – just look how much I’m paid.
But I earn every penny (and don’t forget it’s taxed)
'Cos no-one else can match me – blunt, sexist and relaxed.

When Konta was at Wimbledon I wasn’t phased a bit
I knew she was Australian – how could she be a Brit?
The feminists got angry, they’re quick to take offence
The way I see it there’s their view – and then there’s common sense.

I’ve been around for ever, reported Aberfan,
When Dimbleby missed Question Time they knew I was the man;
I grill the politicians, I’m ready for a fight
They try to get a word in but they know that I am right.

I dominate the microphone, my condescending drawl
Dismisses other viewpoints, I know that it’s my call.
Now Carrie Gracie’s moaning ‘cos women get less pay
How much d’you think I’ve offered her to try to make her stay?

I had to put John Sopel right – “You won’t believe this mess.
You realise she’s suggesting that you should be paid less?”
Such chat does not prevent me discussing this on air
It’s only boyish banter – a ban would be unfair.

I should be free to speak my mind, though there’s the curious thought
That women have been silenced for voicing their support.
When prejudice is pouring out there’s no-one to say when
Cos it’s business as usual at the BBC for men.  

 

 

Code of Conduct (revised)

Rule 1. Exude an air of confidence.
Rule 2. Officials only cramp your style.
Don’t seek advice. Just use your common sense.
Keep talking, and maintain that winning smile.
Rule 3. If challenged by reporters, bluff –
“It was a holiday.” Or improvise:
“She’s training students, journalistic stuff…”
They’re harmless little falsehoods. No-one dies.
Rule 4. Retreat with style. Low key is good.
“I had twelve meetings…Boris knew…fourteen?”
“If what I said has been misunderstood…
all out of context…what I really mean…”
Rule 5. Don’t say “I’m sorry.” That’s uncouth.
Keep talking. Smile. Forget about the truth.

The Road to Number Ten

There’s a magic in the metre, in the Kipling rock and roll,
The rhythm that you learnt at school, the soundtrack of your soul;
In the old Moulmein Pagoda, where it’s perfect to declaim –
You can’t help it, you’re an addict – Boris Johnson is your name.
“This is not the time and place”, there’s a disapproving face
From the apparatchik next to you, but then
These are foreign office minions with inferior opinions;
They don’t realise you’re bound for Number Ten.

You wrote this EU column, of frothy comic stuff
But then you made a quote up and The Times had had enough.
As Mayor of London photo-ops you had a busy time.
Though you didn’t cut pollution and you didn’t sort the crime
But you knew you couldn’t fail on the LEAVE campaigning trail
When the old charisma bubbled up again
You were winning and on track when a knife stab in the back
Put the mockers on your rise to Number Ten.

Churchill is still your hero in an old colonial dream
Obama is part-Kenyan, and the picanninies beam
In Tokyo street rugby’s not a game, more like a fight
As a ten-year old gets clattered by your tackle in full flight.
The upbeat tone, the floppy hair are great on screen, superb on air
Olympics, on a zipwire, hanging…when
You give that boyish grin ‘cos you know you still can win
And get back on to the road to Number Ten.

There’s controversy attaching to a limerick that you wrote
In which the Turkish premier had relations with a goat.
“Never came up” you chortled. “We’re good friends, we start anew
And the UK’s backing Turkey as it tries to join EU.”
Europeans watch you swerve, they’re disgusted by your nerve
“Mr. Johnson’s changed positions, yet again.
When you’ve said you’re on your way you don’t get the right to say
Even if you aim to get to Number Ten.”

The articles keep coming, and your chutzpah doesn’t die
Big money for the NHS, that old familiar lie.
So says the back seat driver who seeks to navigate
“There must be no backsliding – we have to seize our fate.”
If negotiations stall you’ll be ready for the call
You are chosen, and you’re on the rise again
So who cares if what you say undermines Theresa May?
You’ve got one more chance to get to Number Ten.

Business as Usual

What makes a happy ending for a President in power?
Some cut down government spending, some made the commies cower;
Some claim they made the weather, some got elections won
Some kept their team together, got legislation done.

You’d think that we were Isis the way they pull us down
They claim that we’re in crisis, the lousiest show in town.
The media fail to get it, they think I’m just a laugh
There’s no way I regret it when there’s feuds between my staff.

I’m on a jungle mission where the weakest don’t survive
The heat of competition is the setting where I thrive
I crave big beasts in action and agreement makes me tired –
There’s no greater satisfaction than the joy of saying “You’re fired!”

The Luck of the Draw

Here’s the lowdown on the showdown
The return to Eden Park
Where the flame of history flickers:
Can the Lions make their mark?
Sure, the All Blacks can be beaten;
England did it, ‘ 73
But it doesn’t happen often
And it never comes for free.

They are physical and streetwise
They are savvy and they’re fast
By the time you see the danger
They have runners racing past.
They are sniffing for the offload
They are ruthless in the maul
Teams who beat them stick together
All for one and one for all.

No, the schedule wasn’t clever
And some early games were lost;
If you build a squad with jetlag
Then there’s bound to be a cost.
Local papers were derisive
Mocked their chances, did them down,
Underestimated Gatland
Canny Kiwi’s not a clown.

There are moments in the battle
When the flickering flame is low
Times when Sinckler, George and Owens
Might have let the series go,
But the pack still swarms around them
With a love-slap on the head
‘Cos it’s not the final whistle
And this team is never dead.

So they didn’t cross the try-line
They made hardly any breaks,
Beauden Barrett missed two sitters
And the All Blacks made mistakes
But it’s still a magic moment
We shall treasure evermore –
Kicked the points and made the tackles,
Faced the All Blacks, got a draw.

The Ballad of Jo Cox

From a grammar school in Yorkshire she wins her Cambridge place;
She doesn’t speak the same as them and no-one knows her face.
While others have done gap years Jo hasn’t been away,
Packed toothpaste in the factory where her dad works every day.
But as a lonely student in that chilly eastern town
She vows to make a difference, she won’t be backing down.

She worked as a researcher, in NGOs, in aid;
Cheap medicine, casualties of war, the laws controlling trade.
In a myriad of settings, the message is the same:
We must protect the vulnerable, it’s justice that we claim.
In Darfur, in Colombia, she’s energy to burn,
A Westerner who listens, who’s not afraid to learn.
The powers that be imagine that this girl is no big deal -
She’s tiny and she’s charming, but she’s also made of steel.

Ten years confronting heartbreak, some changes she can see
But now the biggest challenge; she’ll stand as an MP.
She’ll represent constituents, she’ll fight to right their wrongs
And it has to be in Batley, the place where she belongs.
At first there’s some suspicion. From Cambridge? What’s the fuss?
But then a wave of warm relief – this girl is one of us.
She greets the market traders, the women’s rugby team;
We do belong together, it isn’t just a dream.
Jo Cox is not a robot, she’s a mother and a wife,
A friend who likes to party, with an appetite for life.

She’s been a year in Parliament, she’s got them on the run
Asks questions, gathers allies, above all, gets things done.
Yes, Syria is our business, it’s vital that we care;
The issues that divide us are less than what we share.
Some say she’ll be a minister – demanding, canny, bold
But then the referendum puts everything on hold.

The campaign’s getting nasty, there’s poison in the air
And some of it is lodging in the head of Thomas Mair.
God knows just what he’s thinking as he’s lying there in wait
But she’s the perfect target, the love he has to hate.
In Parliament the tributes suggest she got it right –
Two roses on her usual seat: red Labour, Yorkshire white.
Jo’s voice was cruelly silenced, her chance for change has gone
So it’s up to us to take it, to see her work goes on.

                    

Firing on all cylinders

It’s cool to win elections, and having power’s a laugh
But things get complicated when you’re employing staff.
Attorney General Sally Yates said “Don’t appoint Mike Flynn.”
Obama, something similar, but I said “Show him in.”
OK, he’s linked with Russia, but how was I to know?
As soon as I was made aware I said he’d have to go.

And now there is James Comey, who runs the FBI;
When he leaked stuff on Hillary he was my kind of guy.
But then things kind of soured when he made it all too plain
He’s looking into Russia and their links with my campaign.
“Are you investigating me?” I put it to him straight;
He told me that he wasn’t, but I couldn’t afford to wait.

He’s in LA, addressing staff, the auditorium packed.
A message runs across the screen “James Comey has been sacked.”
He laughs, ‘cos he imagines it’s a prank his staff might do
Until an aide comes up to him, informs him that it’s true.
Some said that was insensitive, but the time is never right.
Just tell the guy it’s over, and then switch out the light.

My guys leapt into action – first off, Sean Spicer said
“The Hillary Clinton e-mails – that’s why James Comey’s dead.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders implied a devious crime
“The guy committed atrocities, he lived on borrowed time.”
“Unpopular,” a spokesman said, “he’d lost the FBI.”
His deputy insisted “That is a flat out lie.”
Then Spicer claimed I’d acted on advice that I’d been shown
But all that stuff is garbage. I acted on my own.
I am the guy that calls the shots. It’s time. I’d had enough
He better know that there’s no tapes if he starts leaking stuff.  

Next day, I tell the Russians “Beware the ISIS threat,
They’ve got a trick with laptops. Could be the deadliest yet.”
I get top secret info, and have the right, of course
To share stuff which endangers a vulnerable source.
The US press were not allowed, but a Russian camera crew
Releases pictures of our chat. They’re devious. Who knew?
Then Putin said it wasn’t them from whom this secret slipped
But if we need a record he’ll let us have their script.  

No leader’s ever suffered what’s happening to me now
Not Hitler, not Caligula, Pinochet, Chairman Mao.
The press won’t knock me off this course, I’m keeping to my line.
The folks who voted for me think that what I do’s just fine.
I’ve lifted bans on pesticides. Junk food controls are dead.
Ivanka’s sorting climate change ‘cos that stuff hurts my head.
I’ve read the contract’s small print, my term’s not yet expired
One thing’s for sure, I am the guy who gets to say “You’re fired!”
You’ll thank me for it later, I’ve nothing to regret.
If you think this is chaos you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Theresa

The graduates of Bullingdon, the Cameron/Osborne boys
Are oozing with entitlement and make a lot of noise;
The senior woman in cabinet is calm as Mona Lisa
Who knows what’s going on inside the head of Queen Theresa?

Home Office is the graveyard where all politicans lose
But all the media can find to comment on is shoes;
God help the eager immigrant who’s hopeful for a visa
Hostile environment’s the thing that motivates Theresa.

The referendum comes along to split the party wide,
Big beasts patrol the microphones but she stays safe inside;
George Osborne’s sums are not quite straight, they’re like the tower of Pisa,
It’s smart to keep your powder dry like canny Queen Theresa.

Once Leave has won the backs are stabbed, Gove shafts his mates in style;
Can Leadsom be the best they’ve got? Theresa, by a mile.
The leavers – Boris, David, Liam- are desperate to please’er
Only a fool strays out of line in the court of Queen Theresa.

So Brexit must mean Brexit. What’s that? We try to guess.
It’s yes to immigration bans, no cash for NHS.
She doesn’t want to spell it out; she stays aloof, like Caesar
Ex-pats are simply bargaining chips if you are Queen Theresa.

After the split from Europe will we be just a rump?
She’s sprinting to the plane to be the first to chat up Trump.
So yes, she’ll let him take her hand and later, he may squeeze’er;
She smiles, and thinks of England, long-suffering Theresa.

She’d like more houses built for rent, real gains that voters see,
Some government boosts for business, and job security.
But the history books won’t mention those, you can bung ‘em in the freezer
For Brexit’s all that matters in the reign of Queen Theresa.  

The President Speaks to the Nation

So now I’m talking here, direct
to you the people. You expect
to trust the words the media say
but Washington, New York, LA
are packed with journalists who do
a great disservice – that means you,
yes, BBC and CNN
(though Fox has honourable men).
Oh yes. The press are here with me
We’re glad to have them. They’ll be free,
to ask their questions. No surprise
that they’ll still write it up as lies.
I’m happy to collaborate
and if they want a scrap – can’t wait.
But we’ve made progress. Say it loud:
we’ve done good work. I’m very proud.

OK, who’s first? Where to begin?
Oh boy. Of course. It’s General Flynn.
You hint at diplomatic crimes
but I’ve made clear so many times
I never talked to them but twice.
Putin rang up, he was real nice.
Well done, the night I won the vote.
Inauguration:  all she wrote.
Flynn’s not a crook, a real fine man
and he did nothing wrong. The can
must still be carried. He misled
Mike Pence. That’s why I had his head.
But all this is a ploy they choose –
the Democrats can’t bear to lose.

The news says chaos. It’s obscene.
This is a finely-tuned machine,
this operation that I run.
A mere four weeks, and we have done
more stuff than previous regimes.
Obama in his wildest dreams
could never operate this way.
I won. I won. And did I say
I got the highest college share
of any pres since Reagan. There.
What’s that? You think that wasn’t true?
Obama? Clinton? And Bush too?
OK. That story’s maybe cold.
I just passed on what I was told.

Obama left me with a mess.
The Middle East. Korea. Guess
just who’s the guy to sort them out.
You got it. Me, without a doubt

The tone. The hatred. Gets me down
to hear reporters in this town
abuse me. I am not that bad.
My win, the ratings that I’ve had,
my business empire all suggest
of all the candidates, I’m best.
But I’ll tell you how this will play.
Tomorrow’s newspapers will say
“Trump raved.” Too good a chance to miss.
But hey, it’s great. I’m loving this.

Anti-semitic? Racist? Me?
Let’s treat this issue seriously.
I know myself and in my mind
I’m the most tolerant guy you’ll find.
I said I’d keep the Muslims out.
It made the liberals scream and shout
but my migration ban was fine,
the rollout smooth, along the line.
The only place where it fell short
was that we got a lousy court.
A bad decision held us back;
in no time things will be on track.
And by the way, my cabinet
could be the most impressive yet.
Fantastic talents, I’m quite moved.
Can’t wait to get them all approved.

Could you explain your cities plan?
I would be honored. I’m the man
who pulled in way above my share
of votes that were predicted there.
Afro-American, as well
as women and Hispanics. Hell,
I broke the mould. So, will you be
consulting with the CBC?

And who are they? Or must I guess?
Congressional Black Caucus, yes?
You’re black. Maybe you know these guys,
could introduce me, put them wise?
I’m just a journalist. No sweat.
I’ve got your name. I shan’t forget.

I don’t believe it. Here we go.
The big thing that they want to know:
when General Flynn was on the phone
to Russia, did he act alone
or was this authorised by me?
I told you. One-track minds. You see?
The thing they should be chasing down
is all the leaking in this town.
Top level confidential stuff
gets in the press. Not good enough.
What’s that? No, there is no mistake.
The leaks are real. The news is fake.

 

A Lousy Deal

In the campaign, the candidate attacks
the swamp at Washington, the way jobs fall
in global treaties, slipping through the cracks
as local guys miss out. But he’ll still call
the asset strippers, stars from Goldman Sachs
to run the country. More jobs? Not at all.
He picks his cabinet, and here’s the rub:
they’re all recruited from the rich men’s club.

To head Environment, a guy who’s fought
it many times; the greens get sleepless nights.
He wants pro-lifers on the highest court
to make it hard to grant abortion rights.
Rip up the few provisions which support
the poorest; losers learn that failure bites.
Celebrity Apprentice plays it rough
and if you haven’t got the diamonds – tough.

Press conference? Not for him. That model’s bust.
Who needs the ritual of Q and A?
If Facebook is the only source they trust
no-one will check the truth of what he’ll say.
The kids have got the algorithms sussed -
he trusts his gut, and tweets it on its way.
A family man; the kids will play their part
doing their daddy’s deals. It warms the heart.

Official briefings don’t inform his plan;
he’s smart enough to do it on his own.
He doesn’t rate the deal with Iran
and hassles China ‘cos they pinched his drone.
Putin, he reckons, is a decent man
but still he wants the nuclear silo grown
to challenge...who? Right there the vision fades.
But he’s got balls. Yessir, got them in spades.

The hi-tech companies will make a database
to let him track the Muslims, in and out.
Blacks and Latinos need to know their place
is off the voters’ register. Some doubt
about the wall, but not about the race:
the winner is the Great White sexist lout.
I’m scared. I’m tearing out my hair in clumps.
I tried to warn them when I bid No Trumps. 

The Ladder

There are those struggling to make ends meet who are paying for the benefits of others.” Theresa May, PMQs 2.11.16

We can’t look after everyone, some targetting is due.
It once was “working families” but we need something new.
“Just about managing” they are, we call them JAM for short;
Money for JAM is hard to find, there’s not much cash in place
But here’s a way of looking at the prospect that they face.

Our spending is a ladder that stretches to the sky;
Some items of expenditure may seem a trifle high.
It wasn’t all that long ago we bailed out the banks
We said “Eight hundred billion?”;  they barely murmured “Thanks.”
And then there were those pricy wars, Afghanistan, Iraq...
Another thirty billion that won’t be coming back.
We have this deal with Nissan. How much we cannot say
But just enough to see you through that dreaded rainy day.
A hundred and fifty billion in benefits is banked
But half of that’s on pensions, and they are sacrosanct.
The guys that you should focus on are those that have no work;
Five billion quid a year they cost, you ought to go berserk.
They’ve ripped it from your wallets, they’re cheating at the game
You won’t get richer but at least you’ve got someone to blame.

You’re tottering on the ladder, not sure you can hold on
But don’t forget this message when everything has gone:
“Do not look up” ’s the answer. There’s people in this town
Whose wealth is way beyond your reach. You keep on looking down.
We are the only party that truly understands:
Just look at those below you, and trample on their hands. 

The Man of the Moment

The world’s gone into meltdown
The signs are all too clear
The only people smiling –
Putin, and North Korea.
There’ll be a wall with Mexico
We’ll purge the NHS
And climate change? Forget it.
You want a future? Bless.
It feels like Armageddon
Our prospects are the pits
You might conclude the rational world
Is breaking up in bits.
But there’s one common factor,
One mastermind in charge.
It isn’t May, it isn’t Trump
It’s bloody Nigel Farage.

Twinkletoes

When Jeremy Hunt was at Culture, his future was somewhat in doubt,
He’d got far too close to the Murdochs, there were many who wanted him out;
His mate Michael Gove toured the studios, defending his buddy with ardour
“This guy is no chancer, but he’s a great dancer – he does an amazing lambada.”

The Lansley reorganisation has left medics all tearing their hair,
Hunt needs to create a diversion, a commission for quality care.
He’s testing the health of the system, he’s confident, agile and quick
With a twirl and a laugh, cuts the carrot in half and doubles the size of the stick.

The UK election is coming, and Hunt is out bending each ear
A seven day service for patients, ten thousand lives saved every year.
The evidence isn’t conclusive, the experts aren’t sure he is right
But once on the floor he can’t hear any more, keep dancing, and follow the light.

He goes on TV with this contract, the one that he plans to impose,
In the Commons he’s acting decisive; is it legal? well, nobody knows.
He says that his door’s always open, but the doctors don’t ever get near
If you never stay still you can do what you will and your room for manoeuvre is clear.

 There’s a deal to be had if he wants it, but Hunt doesn’t like compromise
He skips away, clear of commitment, he swerves and he sashays, he lies.
While Cameron and Osborne are cheering, a union deal is a sin;
They are confident men, it’s the pit strike again: “Have a fight, and make sure that you win.”

Young doctors are trying Australia; they say that it’s sunny out there.
They get better pay, shorter hours, and there’s excellent standards of care.
The training is good and the prospects are bright, the future is shining and new
But the thing they like best far outweighs all the rest: “They value the work that we do.”

Maybe now there’s an end to the madness. It’s Brexit. All change, enter May.
Health officials are told in a whisper that Jeremy Hunt’s on his way

But the sighs of relief are all stifled when it turns out the old boss is back
So how did he learn that extravagant turn that saved him from getting the sack?

It is time for his pièce de resistance, the impossible move – can you guess?
All foreigners purged from the service, a totally Brit NHS.
He smiles and he nods, he can do this. It’s beyond most political men
But the confident dancer will soon find the answer as Twinkletoes triumphs again.  

 

 

Please Bet Responsibly

Please Bet Responsibly

Roll up, roll up and place your bet.
It’s constitutional roulette.
Same old. Familiar routine –
general election in ’15,
Scots Independence. Magic touch.
Just scare them, say it costs too much.
The other lot are losers, so
play safe and stick with what you know.
They line up businesses and banks
to do the sums, to say No Thanks.
This change won’t mean financial gain
so common sense says VOTE REMAIN.

That’s rubbish, Michael Gove says, but
ignore the experts, trust your gut.
Dominic Cummings, on a roll,
proposes “Let’s take back control.”
You want more for the NHS?
Three hundred million, more or less,
is paid each week to the EU.
D’we want it back? You bet we do.
Watch out - the Turks are on their way.
Migrants? We never had a say.
If you vote LEAVE there is no doubt
we’ll keep the EU migrants out.

Farage is sure that he’s the star
but does his poster go too far?
Though Gove and Johnson don’t approve
they sense that UKIP’s on the move.
They’ll each get votes, that’s how it goes,
and so the LEAVE assortment grows.

Just what will make them change their mind –
the great ignored, the left behind?
They’re bitter, bolshie, but their voice
for once will count. They have a choice.
What are the issues which will sway
the votes on referendum day?
There’s regulations, payments, grants;
who’ll give the underdog a chance?
The cost of living, welfare state...
but where does immigration rate?
Election, just twelve months ago,
it ranked at number seven. Low,
you think?  Now, it’s the smoking gun
that tops the charts at Number One.

The level’s up, blood pressure too,
where people coming in is new.
No jobs, no housing, long neglect,
white working class denied respect.
Don’t trust the media, or MPs,
nothing to hope for, on their knees.
One simple cause is hard to name -
it’s newcomers who get the blame.

This can of worms must be addressed
but where’s the source that does it best?
The over-sixty fives say we
get info from the BBC.
The kids ditch papers no-one needs
since social media meet their needs
while UKIP voters in the main
depend upon the LEAVE campaign.
BeLEAVe in Britain, says the SUN
although that headline doesn’t run
in Glasgow, Belfast (They shape news
to make it match their readers’ views).

Two sides in conflict, fierce and mean.
The BBC steps in between
and climbs the ladder, rung by rung,
towards the tightrope that is strung
above these feuding factions. Strewth!
There’s phoney figures, lies and truth,
distortions that they might correct.
Don’t ask tough questions, don’t reflect
on dubious stories that deceive:
just alternate, REMAIN and LEAVE.

On Thursday night we go to bed.
Markets are up, cos Brexit’s dead.
On Friday morning comes the news:
REMAIN and Cameron have the blues.
So take it in, and give it large –
a win for Johnson, Gove, Farage.

The EXPRESS are chuffed, they’ve got it made.
The most successful press crusade
there’s ever been claims victory.
You should be proud, says one MP.
IT WAS THE SUN WOT WON IT. Hey,
it’s everyone a winner day.
Goodbye, au revoir, auf wiedersehen
to France and Germany and Spain
who shackled us in slavery.
Now Britain shall at last be free.

Here comes the Daily MAIL now
but they say “Britain, take a bow.”
It’s not the MAIL, EXPRESS or SUN
but their great readership that won.
The winners in this jamboree?
Liz Hurley, and the BBC.
According to Richard Littlejohn
“decent forgotten people won.”
Now here’s a smiling hedge fund kid
who won two hundred million quid.

Europe looks on in disbelief.
So much destruction, so much grief.
Agreements, networks, torn to shreds –
they can’t work out what’s in our heads.
We’re out, but we were hardly in.
If you don’t play, how can you win?
We lectured Brussels, raised the roof,
demanded opt-outs, stayed aloof.
Farage returns, he’s back in town
to mock the people we turned down.

We could have backed the big idea,
promoted membership, not fear,
been one of many in a team
but maybe that was just a dream.
We are the English, on our own.
We think we’re better off alone.

For those who peddle racist hate
it’s fifty-two to forty-eight.
Result! The numbers never lie
so foreigners can say goodbye.
We see them, on a bus or train
we make it clear they can’t remain.
Insult a Muslim, scare a Pole.
We won. We’re taking back control.   

There’s other casualties. The vow
you heard last week is cancelled now.
The millions that we said we’d get
are nothing like that much. Forget
the bonus for the NHS.
There’ll be more immigrants, not less.
They said the Turks were on their way
but that won’t happen. Not today.
Just what was true in this campaign?
Who gives a toss? We stuffed REMAIN.

This was the verdict of the old.
The future has been put on hold.
Agenda for the next ten years?
Pick up the pieces, stoke the fears
of those who feel left behind.
Put rational government out of mind.

The wheel of fortune, wheel of fire
spins round, and lifts its victims higher
only to drop them from a height
for heavyweights are feather light.
Powered by centrifugal force
careers veer off their plotted course.
They fell, no matter how they strove -
first Cameron,then Johnson, Gove.

We’re meant to feel this afterglow...
a bit like the Olympics, no?
The nation, unified and free
steps up to claim its destiny.
But what we’re told’s not what we get.
Those expectations, all unmet,
evoke betrayal, rage, regret.
We should have known. It’s called roulette.

 

 

 

 

Purple Blazers

We are the guys you never see
The men in suits from DFE.
There was a time – you have to laugh –
That kids had places, schools had staff
That’s what the DFE was for.
But mere provision’s such a chore
We’ve scrapped that bit. We’ve turned the page,
Now blue sky thinking’s all the rage.

A worldwide survey feeds us news
That English kids have got the blues.
In tons of tests they fail to score,
They’re under stress, they worry more.
Teacher morale? An all time low.
Give half of them the chance, they’d go.
Recruits begin, in fear and doubt.
Don’t screw things up, or you’ll be out.
This lesson plan is what you do;
Try innovation, and you’re through.

They’re judged by OFSTED, frowned upon
And then, in three years’ time, they’re gone.

Parents compete, a ruthless race
To get first choice, to grab the place
Their child needs, but most will lose.
The smarter schools can now refuse
The kids who’ll drag their test scores down
So dropouts doss all over town.
We don’t keep track. Why should we care?
They simply vanish in thin air.
There’s schools that struggle, on the edge.
League tables are the iron wedge
That splits the bottom from the top.
Just drive it in, and watch them drop.

 

We have this cunning plan, a scheme
Where Cameron says - I have a dream.
Knowing that presentation’s key
He hands it to the Treasury.
Our plan, to gain the greatest reach,
Is placed in Osborne’s budget speech.

The purple blazers, that’s the thing.
The endless benefits they’ll bring
As schools across the land say please
We’d like to be academies.
These parent governors, we’d say,
Mean well, but they get in the way.
They’ll be replaced by experts who
Are known to’ve made a quid or two.
With them in place we’ll sort this mess –
The blazers guarantee success.

How do we know? There is no proof
Academy scores go through the roof
But we’re prepared to back this hunch
We had, last Tuesday, after lunch.
Academies were once a choice
That local schools could make; the voice
Of parents could decide, but hey
Parental choice was yesterday.
Local is fine, but on the whole
We’d rather keep complete control
So Whitehall will administrate
The nation’s schools. We just can’t wait.

That’s it. For better or for worse
We’re going forward. No reverse.
It’s purple blazers. That’s enough.
Forget the education stuff.
The how they think, and what they feel
Are complicated. We don’t deal
In theories. That’s a dangerous game.
We just make sure they look the same.
You’re scared the bill for this is steep.
Six hundred million quid. That’s cheap.

The possibilities are cool
For those who run this kind of school.
We deal them the strongest hand
They call the shots, they sell the land.
Hire out the building, live rent-free,
One ran a dating agency.
No regulation in their way
From OFSTED, or the LEA.
We have ensured that rules are lax -
All sorts of stuff slips through the cracks.
The superheads that government praise
Enjoy exotic holidays,
Promote their relatives, receive
A hefty bonus when they leave.   

This is the path we’re going to take
And sixteen thousand schools will make
This change. You ask: What will it cost?
Will good relationships be lost?
Will cuts reduce the money due?
Who’ll take control, if it falls through?
You ask, but you get no reply.
We don’t do questions. Don’t ask why.

Hang on. Some Tory councils say
Compulsion’s not the smartest way.
No need to alienate support:
Maybe this scheme should be rethought.
So, U turn in a busy road –
It shows that we’re in listening mode.
There’s no harm done. It’s still our call
We toss a coin, and watch it fall.

 www.paulfranciswrites.co.uk/poemsfromthenews

emailfrancisliberty@btinternet.com