“Rise like lions after slumber,
in unvanquishable number,
shake your chains to earth like dew,
which in sleep had fallen on you
– ye are many, they are few.”
Glastonbury 2017: Jeremy Corbyn tells cheering crowds to 'build bridges not walls' | London Evening Standard
Shelley updated by Sidmouth resident Mike Temple:
The Marks of Austerity
written on the occasion of the fire at Grenfell Tower,
with a finale from Shelley's “The Mask of Anarchy”
While I lay sleeping safe in bed
I knew not how the flames had spread
Up Grenfell Tower – foam, cladding fed
The raging fire – so many dead.
Next night I had a black nightmare -
I dreamt the Tories didn't care.
I journeyed back in recent times
And I dreamt it all in rhymes.
I saw Austerity on the way -
She had a face like Mrs May.
So very “strong and stable” she,
Yet couldn't face much scrutiny.
The Daily Mail, Express and Sun
Had told us all the deal was done:
The “strong and stable” May would be
The one to make Our Country free.
I saw the “ghastly masquerade”
Of all the cuts the Tories made:
“Cut building costs, de-regulate,
Cut services and cut the State.”
When bankers got us in a mess
The Tories cut the NHS,
With drastic cuts to Education
To harm the future of the Nation.
Cuts for the poor, for Social Care -
The Councils had no cash to spare.
Austerity, the Skeleton,
“Bowed and grinned to everyone”,
Said: “You must pay to pay the debt”
(The fatcats would get fatter yet).
The mantra was to “privatise”
(To help their friends). They told us lies.
Hypocrisy, like Cam'ron, May,
(“One-nation” Tories, so they'd say)
Like smirking ghosts, so slick and sly,
Astride two crocodiles rode by.
Lo, Boris, on his battlebus* -
The Tory Fool - fooled some of us:
Cash from EU for NHS?
Now Brexit talks are in a mess.
Along with these a motley crew,
Hunt, Fox and Gove and Fallon, too.
Grim Poverty came in their train -
Victorian times had come again:
More homeless people sleeping rough;
Life for disableds very tough;
Zero hours, cut benefits
Left many folk beside their wits.
Some nurses, who deserve our thanks,
On their low pay went to food banks.
The gap between the rich and poor
Grew ever wider than before.
The planning laws served market greed
(Few houses built for social need)
And house prices - they reached the sky
So average-earners couldn't buy.
Those on low income and the poor
Found the cost of rent much more,
All because the Government
Built so few homes for social rent.
Councils, starved of cash, did sell
Public assets, parks as well,
And the Construction Industry,
All-powerful, downplayed safety:
“Cut building costs, de-regulate;
Reduce the power of the State.”
Tory landlords, of one will,
Voted down a housing bill*
To make rented accommodation
Fit for human habitation.
Our Nation holds its head in shame
But who do you think is to blame?
To what extent did those in power
Cause the fire at Grenfell Tower?
But hear the words of Percy Shelley
On Peterloo*, fire in his belly;
His words ring out, a clarion call
To caring humans, one and all:
“Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of Her, and one another...
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number;
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you -
Ye are many – they are few.”
Footnotes: Boris Johnson and Michael Gove claimed on their battlebus that £350 million a week would come from the EU to fund the NHS
In 2016 70 Tory MP landlords voted against the bill to make rented housing fit for human habitation
The massacre by government cavalry in St Peter's Fields, Manchester of a crowd of 60,000 to 80,000 gathered to demand reform of parliamentary representati
This headed the Observer letters pages at the weekend:
Grenfell Tower tragedy shows social housing system has failed UK citizens | Letters | UK news | The Guardian.