#BritishValues

[June, 2014 – Tragic pertinence needs must rework and repeat]

 

What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?

Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the State?

Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its own sake?

Oh, wait!
I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play code we think we own!
How righteously polite we are!
Perhaps we should commission us a global honour mission
Thus we won’t feel so perceptibly alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve translated into Money talks?
Our globe-anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the local masses?
Could it be the age-old choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our Blighty-quaint ability to wait in lines? The neoliberal culture of
I’ll only pay for mine?

Stiff upper lip, is it?
The non-complaining strategy that manifestly rhymes
Neurotic and sclerotic with our passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating way
We tend to trip out on our history’s big lessons?

No, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess:
You mean like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Hang on..!

Or could it even be our undeniable capacity
To finger-point with swinging lead and buried heads?
Or might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool Britannia,
Now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver, made an operatic lather?
Is it in the way we gush and gift a paltry nobody to unreserved celebrity
And rush to make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing?
Is it how we gloat and glower over uncontested power?
Yes! It surely has to be the Press, with all its freedom to impress?

Or is it how we toe the line
When Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all?
Is it our poodle disposition or our sniffy exhibition
That defines our island character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or just pompously perfidious and small?

Well?
What the hell and where the heck
Are all these dandy ‘British values’?
Suffer me my ignorance but,
Is it in the way you favour those already able?
Is it how you keep your brother
Or the fear that looks for other
In the refugee and immigrant?
The prisoner? Disabled?
Is it how you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets?
The single parent? Needy elders?
Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you are transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they’re schooled and duly cloned,
Be branded with a standard – maybe tractors backed by Union Flags
To make their British value known –
For, what is value worth that can’t be shown?

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Blighty writ BIGLY

Blighty writ BIGLY
Engorged and enraged
Spilling forth from the lips
And the hate-filling page
Where it quickens the blood
Of the worried-well age
Churning faith into crud
Turning Will to blind rage
Slinging mud to obscure
To excuse and conflate
All the nonsense it wages
That darkens the State.

The “Compassionate” Con

Why do the Tories have to insist, so profusely, that they are “compassionate”? They’ve recently started slipping it in and tacking it on again, at every opportunity. It’s as though they suddenly think we might need reminding. Or they are doing that positive affirmation thing in order to convince themselves. As though conservatism and compassion were not natural bedfellows…

OED: “Compassionate: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or        misfortunes of others.Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from compati ‘suffer with’.

Passion from Old English:
The word passion comes via Old French from Latin pati ‘to suffer’. The Passion refers to the suffering of Jesus Christ. The sexual sense dates from the late 16th century. Passionate in late Middle English included the senses ‘easily moved to passion’ and ‘enraged’. Passive (Late Middle English) comes from the same root, from the sense of ‘being acted upon’, and compassion (Middle English) is literally ‘suffering with’ someone, while compatible (Late Middle English) comes from the Latin for ‘fit to suffer with’.”

Fancy a political ‘One Nation‘ party actually having to qualify ‘Conservative’ with ‘Compassionate’ just to reassure and soften its image! How ridiculous is that! And how sad. They’ll be telling us it’s a ‘British value‘ next.

And how insultingly patronising is the term “Compassionate Conservatism”? What is it saying? “Oh, we feel really sorry for you”? – “There, there, Daddy will take of you”? – “We feel your pain and anger and we understand”? – “We suffer with you”? – “We’re all in it together”?

By the way: “The root of suffer, is Latin sufferre, from sub- ‘from below, under’ and ferre ‘to bear’. As well as ‘to undergo or endure’, it can mean ‘to tolerate’, and this is the sense you are using when you say that someone does not suffer fools gladly. The expression is biblical, from the second Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.’” – OED

“We suffer you” – that’s the one, isn’t it? They believe We, the People, are the fools that they, being better than us, can afford to – are fit to – accommodate. We are tolerated. Just about.

Of course, there are individual Conservatives who demonstrate sincere compassion; empathy, even but, as a collective; as a political party, they certainly do not. The Cons aren’t compassionate towards us beyond the expedient lip service of self-preservation. And, as for suffering with us: well, that’s almost funny.

‘British Values’?

What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?
Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the state?
Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its
Own sake?

No, wait! I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play
Code we think we own! How righteously
Polite we are! Perhaps we should commission
Us a global honour mission thus we won’t feel
So alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve
Translated into money talks? Our world
Anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the
Local masses? Could it be the age-old
Choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our quaint ability to wait in lines? The
Neoliberal culture of I’ll only pay for mine?

Oh, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess: you mean
Like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Is it the non-complaining strategy that manifestly
Rhymes with passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating
Way we tend to trip out on our history’s lessons?

Oh, hang on!

Could it even be our undeniable capacity to finger
Point with swinging lead and buried heads? Or,
Might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool
Britannia, now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver,
Handled into operatic lather? Is it in the way we gush
And gift a nobody to unreserved celebrity and rush to
Make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing? Yes!
It surely has to be the Press with all its freedom to
Impress?

Or is it how we toe the line when Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all? Is it our poodle
Disposition or our sniffy exhibition that defines our island
Character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or perfidious and small?

Well?
What the hell and where the heck are all these dandy
‘British values’? Is it in the way you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets? The single
Parent? The disabled? Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you’re transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they are schooled and
Duly cloned, be branded with a standard – maybe tractors
Backed by Union Flags to make their British value known?