What’s the matter with [insert (non-metropolitan) English constituency of choice]?
(with apologies to Thomas Frank)
It’s as if we still have whiplash
from that brainbreaking exit poll,
accurately pointing to the crash:
voteless dreams exacting a toll.
What now for a nation fissiparous?
No chance this lot’ll be magnanimous.
The things we’ve in common they forget,
loosening the straps of the safety net.
But there is light when we look round,
(their brand is not detoxified,
hence why their supporters are shy)
if we leave the moral high ground.
Look I’ll go back and finish the sonnet in a bit, but seriously can you please stop calling people who voted to the right of you evil? They’re not – ill-informed maybe, only looking as far as their front door or their street perhaps, but they are not baby eaters. If you start in that register, how can you ever hope that they might listen to you when you try and win them back? I have been on the left long enough to know that a cry of betrayal is never far away, but it’s really not a good look to suggest that it was the voters wot did the stabbing in the front. And don’t take this to mean that I am any less committed to social justice – I voted Labour, I gave money to the campaign, hell I cried on election night – but seriously, we can sit around bemoaning all the forces arrayed against us, or we can work with the grain of England to try and find this fabled progressive majority that still might be out there. I’ll take ends over means most days if it means we can save what we have before starting again. Practically? Hell I don’t know, but we have to get out from behind our screens and in to the world. As it turns out that’s still where politics lives who knew? And when we’re out there, let us try treating it as a carnival of joy instead of a festival of I-Told-You-So-ism, served with a side of slathering vitriol. Rationality isn’t enough, harping on about how our values are superior isn’t enough – put some fizz in your pieties! Fuck it, rebrand the Welfare State as the Welfare Trampoline if you like, but Jesus we will not win if we do not offer something that looks like a smile wrapped around the weapons we’ll need to fight the fear we know is coming. Right, done. Kthnxbye.
–ing, we need to persuade;
the new Jerusalem has only been delayed.
Rishi Dastidar is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and a fellow of The Complete Works. His work has most recently featured in 2014’s Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe). He is also currently part of The Rialto/Poetry School’s editorial development programme.