Tag Archives: UK Class Struggle

Let Them Eat Turnips: A Cautionary Tale from Brexit Britain – Thanissara

Art by Cold War Steve

My friend wrote an angry poem sparked by being served one of England’s increasingly ubiquitous “no-fault” and no reason given eviction orders. In this perfect English rose garden, jolly pub and soft green lawned village, she and her partner never missed paying rent, were an asset to the community, and devotedly restored a village heritage building as a labour of love adding value to the local Lord’s sprawling estate. After years of living quietly, being evicted was a shock. Like many of us self-effacing Englanders, even though wrongly treated, my friend didn’t want her angry poem to go public. Though thankfully, she agreed I could anonymously share it (below) prompting this article.

It usually takes anger to crack open the ways we normalize systemic injustice. However, socially ingrained English “niceness” weaves a sealed veneer that represses unacceptable displays of rage. Yet outrage is a healthy response to the ruling class destroying the social fabric of Britain while plundering public assets to ferret away in their offshore Non-dom trusts. No matter how criminal the act, it seems these self-appointed elite are above the law. Boris Johnson is a perfect example of an Etonian who train-smashed the country and yet continues to breeze around the world on the millionaire lecture circuit.

Britain has been brought to its knees by Tory Brexit hoisted aloft on a scaffolding of gaslight lies for which no one takes responsibility. Brexit and thirteen years of forced Tory austerity has led to extensive food-bank dependency and untreated sewage flowing unabated into rivers and coastlines. This is the direct outcome of Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as a society.” Yet still, the Tory parade of slick contortions, faithfully reported by the now State-controlled BBC, continues to drive their unswerving penchant for Dickensian deprivation for the majority. Nowadays, millions of UK residents struggle to provide food and heat in their homes while fossil fuel companies and major corporations stack up billions in profits; tax free with no questions asked.

As recent food shortages pinched the country tighter, British Secretary of State, Environment and Rural Affairs Therese Coffey, suggested people eat turnips. There’s nothing wrong with turnips, but in this context, citing turnips, a food usually used as cattle fodder, adds insult to injury. Coffey’s British version of “let them eat cake” is an egregious reinforcement of Tory obsession with deepening class division stunting Britain’s ability to move forward as a collaborative, visionary nation.

Just this week, Rishi Sunak (the third Prime Minister elected without input from the people) eulogized Northern Ireland’s great fortune of accessing EU and UK markets without the slightest awareness of the stinging irony that the Tories demolished any access to EU trade for England, Scotland and Wales. Britain’s extreme Brexit trade isolation, a sleight of hand that Sunak enthusiastically cheered along, has effectively pushed it into economic free-fall.

The moral of the story? There are as many to fill a library. But, in essence, Tory Brexit, like Trumpian MAGA and Putin’s Russia, as extreme right-wing political forces, do not know how to build a thriving society. Instead, they destroy the connective tissue that holds society together leaving people without a positive vision or means to engage in creative regeneration.

The destruction of the public commons is deliberate. An isolated people struggling to survive are at the mercy of narcissistic and sociopathic leaders who intend to fashion a society where they maintain power and are free to loot. While poverty deepens in Britain and the cost of living rises beyond what is affordable for millions, Tories just spent £25k on a crystal-encrusted vanity portrait of the Prime Minister and £40k on his shooting trip. It seems they lose no chance to underline their disdain for nurses, doctors, railway workers, postal staff, and so many working-class striking, in the heart of winter, for some kind of living wage.

CYRM6G The Oyster Lunch 1735 by Troy Jean Francois de 1679-1752 France French

Despite all the polished political rhetoric, the tale of Brexit Britain is a shocking story of self-serving politicians plunging a country into poverty while heightening divisions across families, communities and all sections of society. What replaces a once much happier kingdom is now a ruling class wielding raw power and their assumed right to abscond with the collective purse. Just like, on a smaller scale, the unaccountable power used to evict my friend. And like the villages, towns, and communities ripped apart, as reflected in her poem below.

To feel anger is to be alive to injustice. When mindfully transformed, anger clarifies and burns away the dross. Outrage is the fire that moves people to stand up and fight for their rights. The village is our global world, while the landlords who control the political, economic and media domains seem intent on evicting us from our collective home, Earth. So, let the fire of anger warm our heart, energize our passion, and bring us out on the streets together. We have a future to win.

Goodbye to a Village 

Sneaky, bitching 
Witch-burning village 
Good-bye to gossip-mongering 
Shifty people… 
Goodbye to pikey*-burning 
Bonfire crew, 
status-grabbing middle management 
and six-sandwiches-short-of-a-picknick
Lord what’s-his-face. 

Good-bye to those who were good 
but drowned out by the voices of the  
many that weren’t. 
The silently suffering single mums. 
The stupid clay-pigeon shooters 
and the Mafia pub landlady. 

Goodbye to the pagan TV vicar. 
The grumpy gits working themselves into the grave.
The estate managers-from -hell 
hiking rents up beyond anything 
Sussex wages can support. 

Good-bye to smug home-owners. 
The Parish Council Dodos 
and the Bonfire Society 
The same old same olds 
chatting at the Pub. 
The neighbours currently on the third husband.

The guys that shot themselves  or jumped off a cliff. 

Story of a village… 

Now it’s the gauging-out of the working class.
The maintenance team sacked or walking off.
Time for the Rock Stars to move in 
with their recording studios 
and black electric Audi fleets. 

Good-bye Village, it was crazy-making. 
Knowing you, 
I learned a lot – some good, some bad. 
I guess you’ll carry on in some 
weird drug-induced bubble. 
You are a communal mirage. 
A fixation of the imagination 
of an “English Village.”

* Pikey a pejorative term for Travellers or Romanis.

Art by Cold War Steve.