(for National Poetry Day, with dutiful accord to Keats and Shakespeare inter alia)
Season of trysts and pomp-full conferences
When politicians, in three hordes uncouth
Assemble in up-market hotel foyers
To gossip, flirt, conspire and take the hand
Of every willing voter in the land;
To argue for their version of the truth,
To battle for the future of our schools
Our hospitals, police and uncared youth;
Just sometimes to put forward their pet scheme
For rescuing Britain; and perchance to dream
Of greasy poles they yet aspire to climb.
But now the champagne flutes are passed their time –
And late-night, lightweight, internecine strife.
The autumn parliamentary term commences
With all eyes fixed on Osborne’s pending knife.
Statistics, figures, numbers stride the land,
Brought forth by each to stay the other’s hand.
Some worship at the shrine of deficit reduction,
They see a chance to slash the state, scot-free,
They eulogise the Big Society
But in their hearts they make a grand deduction:
Let Alexander, Clegg and Cable take the rap.
It’s true, perhaps the sea of faith was full once;
The faith that all our dreams could be enacted by
The simple, legal application of the democratic will;
That honest, good and independent people
Could change the world by sheer determination;
That work for all would pay a living wage,
That poverty, ill-health and destitution
Would be abolished – here and in every nation.
But now the voters issue a redacted sigh
Their trust in politics of every hue in rage
They fear that they will pay a hefty bill.
Which leaves us with the task we set ourselves:
To live within our means but go for growth;
To struggle for the cause of common sense,
Since rapid, ill-considered, swingeing cuts will lead us hence
To double-dip recession, not to economic health.
The songs of Spring still stir our anxious bones,
With echoes of the age-old oath
(Albeit in a voice and accent of today)
To fight for freedom, fairness, and the common wealth.
The people watch, the media barons neigh
And gathering members twitter on their phones.
Chris Bryant is Labour MP for Rhondda