The Vile Ascent Of Lucien Gore And What The People Did

I wrote this long poem in 2011. With Cameron changing his public stance on austerity (“It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently”) and Russell Brand calling for revolution, it feels pretty relevant. I believe we can change this world with our current system. It’s easy to blame the system, but with voting so low I feel we can only blame ourselves.

THE VILE ASCENT OF LUCIEN GORE AND WHAT THE PEOPLE DID

People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.
Walter H. Judd

I see they’re voting again today. I don’t bother myself.
Woman outside Bungay Post Office, 5 May 2011

I give you now the Britain of my dreams:
Trafalgar Square to Whitby Bay to Fleet;
from medieval mists o’er Suffolk streams
to trilby hats and pills on Hoxton Street.
The parks and car parks, shops and cash machines,
commuter trains and raging windy peaks.
From rides in malls that little children sit on
to Norfolk shooting parties: this is Britain.

And Britain at the end of thirteen years
of pseudo-left-wing rule and endless spin.
A knackered government’s lack of ideas
encapsulated by their leader’s grin:
a nervous desperate gurn, so close to tears.
A smile that said: Next time we won’t get in.
I wouldn’t vote for me, so I don’t blame you.
All I can hope for is to entertain you.

And that he did, with gaffes and strange behaviour,
while opposition benches quietly hummed
and stood behind their new blue-blooded saviour.
You’re powerful when Murdoch and his son
are calling to suggest they do you favours
and companies start sliming by the tonne,
when everybody wants to be your friend,
this sense of power wasn’t lost on them.

Before we go much further I’ll play host –
this Tory leader’s name was Lucien Gore.
Ex Eton, Oxbridge, then his CV boasts
a stint in marketing at Channel 4.
He later entered parliament like most
prospective premiers – through the back door –
as policy advisor, and these feats
soon earned this bright young thing an air-tight seat.

And being under eighty, Lucien was
fast branded with the tag of “modernizer”
he and his chums created quite a buzz
and though the grandees thought them jumped-up shysters
they had to take them seriously because
The Gore Set had their grass-roots sympathizers.
So much so, that when the boss was binned
Lucien Gore threw his topper in the ring.

The contest at the party’s seaside snore-up
attracted, as they do, the standard slew
of spittle-flecked right-wingers bashing Europe
and dinosaurs from 1922
but journos used their superlative stores up
on praising a fresh face, and you know who:
This smart new Tory chap, the papers wrote,
spoke very well. What’s more, he used no notes.

He used no notes! An awestruck nation clapped
and thousands duly took him to their hearts:
Well fancy that, now there’s a clever chap,
I think he’ll give the Blues a brand new start!

But dribbling parties should remember that
a dog will use no notes, when it farts.
We’re pleased when things seem artless, fair enough.
It doesn’t mean it’s not a load of guff.

Still, Lucien’s glossy tricks convinced the party
and soon we got to know his team of cronies:
the business types, the broadsheet literati,
all raised on Latin, Bollinger and ponies,
sat plotting in West London sipping lattes
their wives like Christine Hamilton, but Sloaney.
And to assuage the fashions of the day
Young Gore roped in a Muslim and a gay.

Gore’s right hand man was Harry Churchill-Smith
and yes, before you ask, he was related
but only very vaguely, still a gift
for PR, and to say they over-stated
this fact would be polite, they made it myth,
the Harry-Winny bond was much inflated.
Still, reliance on it was not unbalanced
‘cause poor old Harry had no other talents.

But he and Lucien used to bunk together
and nothing holds as well as old school ties.
In fact, the woody Proustian whack of leather
on willow was shared by most of the guys
on Lucien’s brand new shadow cabinet tether
(the open collars were a poor disguise.)
Indeed, I’m told, a tug upon that lead
produced a verse of Carmen Etonese.

And though they weren’t too different from the others –
they loathed the state and thought it wasn’t fair
that chaps like them should pay for rat-faced brothers
to breed while Blightly fell to disrepair –
they all remembered what happened to ‘Mother’
when she admitted that she didn’t care
so drew themselves as saccharine as kittens
all Softly, softly catchy Middle Britain!

When in the range of microphones and lenses
environment and human rights were key
but when the doors were closed they switched agendas
and had the city bankers round for tea.
They sniggered at the type who watched Eastenders
they schemed to pick apart society
till something very sinister and wrong
went ringing through their callous late night songs:

Let’s carve it up! Let’s cut it up!
Let’s cock and pump it full of shot!
Eviscerate the welfare state
and let the bastards rot!
You’re ready for the chop, my boys!
You’re ready for the chop, chop, chop!
Every single one of you
will feel the Tory chop!

But still, they all spoke well and had good manners
and slowly Lucien’s cronies sowed the seeds
of Tory revolution. Soon the banners
of lefties didn’t seem to match the needs
of average British folk. Opinion scanners
confirmed as much from Chichester to Leeds;
from Aberdeen to Stroud it was the same,
all types of lips played host to Lucien’s name.

In Little Harpingon old Mr Crapp
like many of his peers was new retired
and filled his time with breaking news and naps.
He didn’t think young Lucien too inspired
but squinting with his Daily Mail app
at arms length told his wife, who it transpired
agreed, this fellow looked the part, besides
they generally swapped parties with the tides

of other normal, decent-thinking folk
who bobbed upon the seas of mass opinion.
A country needs such calm, discerning blokes
for didn’t Adolf Hitler and his minions
rely upon politics to evoke
emotion in the people? No, the millions
of dead from World War Two would attest
Crapp’s “ten year itch” was probably for the best.

And Crapp was not alone in thinking that.
Let’s meet a lacquered London lad with flair:
Ricardo King who leased out poxy flats,
wore tailored suits, Prat’s knots and pocket squares.
Whose fat tongue rolled clichés like they were scat
and voted Blue ‘cause doing so would spare
a mocking from the lads, so for the best. Though
Ricardo never read their manifesto.

Then Zena Trigg, an inner-city teacher,
helped Gore get middle England in a lather.
With tales of boisterous classroom fights she preached her
vision for schools – let posh mothers and fathers
start their own ones – like something out of Nietzsche,
survival of the richest – Top hole! Rather!
And Zena kept a blog and styled her look
then left her teaching job to sell her book.

Like blind men with an elephant these Brits
all groped in hopeful darkness at the Tories,
took Lucien and his boys for what they wished:
progressive thinkers; middle grounders; hoary
reliable types who wouldn’t rock the ship.
They bent these bland deceivers to a story
of their own choosing. Lucien kept tight-lipped,
eventually the fragile balance tipped.

And then those Triggs and Crapps were joined by more.
Opinion polls showed Tories at new peaks:
the worried mums convinced by Lucien Gore
that Labour had us set for three day weeks;
the battered squaddies coming back off tour;
the poor who stood and turned the other cheek.
But better still, young Gore’s advisors noted,
were apathetic folk who never voted.

Like Angie McIntyre, ex-art school snapper,
who’d been to many leftie student bashes
developing the type of Shoreditch patter
that had her doing close-ups of fat lashes
and pouting lips, her inner eye in tatters,
her life full of twits with ironic ‘tasches.
They blithely said the country was a fiefdom
but didn’t vote because it was beneath them.

Then down the Lamb, the saddest joint in town,
the clientele of widowers and lads
in branded jumpers scarcely raised a frown
just muttered as the plasma screen spewed ads
in silence, yellow ceiling raining down.
‘Cause what care they, these drunk abandoned dads,
for politics? For Red or Blue or Green?
They sup their suds and play the quiz machine.

And only Alf, his beard like sand and ash,
his fingers mustard, had something to say:
You mark my words this lot will cut our cash
they’ll bleed us dry
, he cried and made his way
outside for fags. By ten old Alf was smashed:
I tell you boys, these shits will make us pay,
he slurred, but Dan the landlord bade him hush:
There’s nothing we can do, why make a fuss?

So Alf relented, shrugged, then stumbled home
while in a room in London Gore and co.
rolled up their sleeves and whispered into phones.
Each muffled word, each Post-It note a blow
to Alf and others like him who can moan
as well as they can drink, but will not go
and cast their precious vote on polling day.
But Alf was right, this lot would make him pay.

And not just him, but others, like the morons
who gladly pay their quid to ITV
to vote for ghastly, gurning, chirping gorgons
who fill their lives with false celebrity.
They’d be the ones worst hit if Lucien Gore won
but sigh and mutter: Voting’s not for me.
Their ballot papers swapped for betting slips
they gorge themselves on circuses and crisps.

Because in all of this let’s not forget
that Gore’s new Tory boys had done no worse
than scores of politicians from the left.
They’ll lie to win until they’re in a hearse
and when they are they’ll still have no regrets.
No, I’ll tell you what really makes me curse
is folk prepared to throw away their pass
to fairer lives because they can’t be arsed.

And so to polling day – when tabloids scream
their final screams; when weary Britons mope
to local schools; when rosette-sporting teams
of activists with clipboards sit and hope;
when common folk make true a common dream;
and paupers hand their king a length of rope.
A new PM was waiting in the wings
the only thing uncertain was the swing.

But swing it did, till poor old Peter Snow
looked like a zealous father in the park,
as through the night the left took body blows.
‘Til when the awful sunlight pierced the dark
a TV graphic showed the crimson rows
in parliament near gone. The picture stark,
the battle fought, a bloody Tory rout,
and somewhere near the Thames the cries rang out:

Let’s carve it up! Let’s cut it up!
Let’s cock and pump it full of shot
Eviscerate the welfare state
and let the bastards rot!
You’re ready for the chop, my boys!
You’re ready for the chop, chop, chop!
Every single one of you
will feel the Tory chop!

And Lucien ripped his mask and climbed the stage:
My countrymen, the time for change has come
we enter now the truly modern age!
Reliance on the state has made you dumb;
these socialists have kept you in a cage,
but now we’ve set you free you can become
your dreams. Go forth, go make your good selves whole.
And by the way, we’re going to cut the dole.

Oh Shock & Awe! cried Mail and Metro headlines:
The average Brit set free, why, this is good!
Yes, what our new Prime Minister has said chimes
with normal folk in normal neighbourhoods!
In other news, some lazy, scrounging Red whines
because the new PM has said he should
go get a job! Well fancy that, poor bounder!
Hurrah for Lucien Gore! Boo sucks to scroungers!

Approval ratings for the Tories soared:
a Mori/Ipsos study in The Sun showed
that twenty million cheered when Lucien Gore
attempted his “good bloke” act on The One Show.
He’s just like one of us, the red tops roared,
the PM might be posh, but he’s good fun though!
And in this mood of gooey media bribery
the government cut funding for the libraries.

And Gore sent Harry Churchill-Smith to calm
the growing rumpus in the rural towns.
Now look here paupers, Harry waved his arms,
the libraries were getting you all down
books overheat your brains, they’ll cause you harm
eventually, I know you’ll all come round.
Besides I have some good news for you all:
your library is now a shopping mall!

And once again the Tabloids shrieked with glee
and mocked up Harry’s face to look like Winston’s.
Our Finest Hour! The Daily Star decreed
concluding that the Tories in this instance
had righted all those leftist spending sprees.
Then Lucien did a guest spot on The Simpsons
and while the Twitterati had him trending
his ministers cut rural transport spending.

But now the left had mobilised, bus loads
of students, activists and pissed-off grannies
all went to town to make the Tory toads
know what they thought. But Lucien Gore was canny
as calm protestors filled the squares and roads
his cops provoked some balaclava-ed prannies
to smash-up shops and spray-paint Marble Arch
so Fleet Street turned its outrage on the march.

And Crapp in Little Harpingon sat sighing:
Just look at all these yobbos, dear, he fussed.
His missus, who was frankly sick of vying
for attention with his phone, looked non-plussed.
I wonder if you would object to driving
me into town, love? Only, they’ve stopped the bus.

And something about this struck Crapp as odd
but he was still too ticked off with that mob

to give it any thought, so off he went.
While somewhere in the bowels of Number Ten
a meeting of the inner government
was under way to change the rules again.
My friends, said Gore, our foes are lost and spent,
it’s time to slay the Monarch of the Glen
that savage public beast, that leftist pest
it’s time to privatise the NHS.

Let’s carve it up! Let’s cut it up!
Let’s cock and pump it full of shot
Eviscerate the welfare state
and let the bastards rot!
You’re ready for the chop, my boys!
You’re ready for the chop, chop, chop!
Every single one of you
will feel the Tory chop!

But Gore et al weren’t clueless to the problems
of trying to kill a national institution
and so they summoned all their PR goblins
to bang their heads and find a grim solution
which three weeks hence they did, but this would rob them
of any good that lingered in their gruesome
hearts. Furtively they started pulling threads
eventually the thing was left in shreds.

Efficiency! They cried. Redundancies
commenced, administrators to the wall.
The next buzz word: Accountability
was jargon for a massive overhaul
of services with private firms now free
to bid for tasty contracts, and they mauled
the weaken Service till tear-stained she ran
back to the arms where this abuse began.

The state has let you down again, Gore scorned
and reeled off his ‘how-to-fix-it’ list:
all Milton Friedman market-forces porn
stiff upper-lip and sober shaking fist.
An act was passed as Britain sat and mourned
it cut the NHS to tiny bits.
An act was passed that unwound sixty years
and all the Left could muster were some tears.

An act was passed that changed the game forever
by men who rightly felt invincible.
The artery of welfare Britain severed
and why? Because a right-wing principle
demanded it. O, there was nothing clever
or prudent, or wise, nothing sensible
about this simple act of sabotage
but buoyed by this success Gore upped his charge.

My friends, he crowed on telly, messianic,
the nanny state is dead, don’t mourn her teat!
Come gnaw the Rusk of commerce, hungry gannets,
come tear the bloody meat of Oxford Street!

Then every time they sensed a rising panic
they trimmed our council tax to keep us sweet
and danced each night their fevered, grisly tangos
upon the paupers’ graves of vanquished quangos.

They hacked at local budgets and they shattered
the public arts. They throttled Northern towns.
They said disabled children were a matter
for their parents. Raised premiums on gowns
and mortarboards. Supped champers as they battered
the SureStart scheme and shut job centres down.
Let multinationals feast on comprehensives
slashed corporate tax at rates that were offensive.

Which kept the staunch support of business types
encouraging the people still in work
to carry on believing Lucien’s tripe:
that they were sweating while the nation shirked.
The conquer-and-divide them archetype,
one nation severed under Lucien’s smirk,
and while the people wriggled in their shackles
in Westminster their leaders raised their cackles:

We carved it up! We cut it up!
We cocked and pumped it full of shot
Eviscerated the welfare state,
it rots, it rots, it rots!
You felt the Tory chop, my boys!
You’re felt the Tory chop, chop, chop!
Every single one of you
has felt the Tory chop!

But down The Lamb, Old Alf had had enough
he hauled himself onto the bar and cried:
They took my flat and now I’m sleeping rough.
They’ve lied and lied and lied and lied and lied!
I’ve had it with that slimy bastard’s guff
they’ve stole away our dignity, our pride.
They’ll never call this process to a halt
we’ve nothing else to lose, so lads: REVOLT!

And bloody cries rang up from all the boys
then grabbing what they could: beer bottles, sticks
and tools they marched through town and made their noise
till others joined them, tired of Lucien’s tricks:
the mums and dads whose lives had been destroyed,
the out of work, the dying and the sick,
the clergy running from their vestibules
and screaming kids who streamed from new McSchools.

And all across the land it was the same
as mobs rose up and marched towards the heart
of rotten Britain cursing Lucien’s name.
Each one resolved to tip the apple cart
reverse the months of pain and shame and blame
and give their sceptred isle a brand new start.
From Suffolk, Fife, from Truro, York and Kent,
the peasants came to slay their government.

And Mrs Crapp, being driven to the shops
by Mr Crapp, who tutted at these crowds
insisted that her flustered husband stop
and out she jumped to join them, loud and proud.
But Crapp just stood and watched until the tops
of heads all looked the same, then home he ploughed,
against the stream of people with their banners,
muttering how the Brits has lost their manners.

And as the tatty rabble passed through Hoxton
young Angie and her friends with their sarcastic
moustaches joined up with the boys from Foxtons,
Ricardo King among them, waving plastic
For Sale signs on sharpened poles. No one stopped them.
The privatised police squads had elastic
morals. They knew that Lucien wouldn’t last
and so stood down and let the rebels past.

They chanted TORIES OUT! through megaphones,
you never saw a crowd so loud and big.
All types of people: Scousers, Geordies, Sloanes
near eighty times the largest prog rock gig
in history – they looted Waterstones
and burned a life-sized cardboard Zena Trigg
en route to Whitehall’s sick and rancid core
to pay their last respects to Lucien Gore.

Whose bodyguards now lined the iron gate
to Downing Street and fired into the horde
but nothing they could do could terminate
the will of several million, they just roared
with bloody fury, vehemence and hate
and, heads down, charged at them with homemade swords
until the wrought iron bent like it was tin
and then ten thousand Brits came streaming in

as Lucien Gore and Harry Churchill-Smith
were trying to board a chopper by a rope
they ran it down and as it tried to lift
a thousand hands reached up and madly groped
till ministerial socks were clasped in fists
then down the bastards came and then their throats
were sliced and cutlassed by the blood-laced throng
who cheered and sang their revolution song:

Let’s carve them up! Let’s cut them up!
Let’s cock and pump them full of shot!
Eviscerate their reign of hate
and let the bastards rot!
You’re ready for the chop my boys!
You’re ready for the chop, chop, chop!
Every single one of you
will feel The People’s chop!

In time, the poppies lined the avenues
reminders of that mad and bloody day
and kids would ask their parents: Was it true?
Did leaders really treat us all that way?

And they would sigh and say that all they knew
was when elections came around in May
they hurried to the booth to cast their vote,
they’d rather cross a box than cut a throat.

4 Comments

  • Maxine Simons November 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I love this.

    Reply
  • Angela Goodman November 14, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I enjoyed this from first line to last.

    Reply
  • Kurt Whelan November 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Brilliant and truly epic. I especially like the fantasy element of the ‘people’s revolt’. If only.

    Reply
  • Keith Parker November 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Luke I posted this on my Facebook Site `Poetry Talk`https://www.facebook.com/groups/120724398022460/ with a link to this page.

    Excellent work really enjoyed it.

    “Raucous, scabrous, rasping, ranting but a ranter with sophistication the raving, rhapsodic, Luke Wright tears into the body politic. Totally politically incorrect, yet correct, he ravages the pretensions of left and right and makes a plea to use democracy to restore civility as an alternative to nightmarish revolution. I was considering registering a protest vote at the next election, Luke, I am reconsidering, you might have saved me from myself. His website is also excellent with a generous offering of video and audio. There is something of the 18th century, the Regency about Luke Wright, Gillray, Rowlandson, Cruickshank, Hogarth, Byron. Try his poem `Georgian Pleasure`. From Essex man comes forth a truth for our times, bold, brassy, beautiful.”

    Reply

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