The pity is in the poetry. And nowhere else?

Capture1This is a usually a blog about poetry, but I don’t keep my politics a secret on it. For those of you who find this an irritation, I’m sorry. I’m a whole person, and the poetry in which I speak of kindness or friendship comes from the same place as my politics. I beg you to read this anyway, especially if you’re not on the same political spectrum as me.

Three things strike me on the news this morning:.

1 The health secretary ‘doesn’t see anything wrong in principle’ with charging people for missing appointments. He simply cannot imagine, apparently, living in a world of unreliable public transport or the kind of poverty that makes many people fragile in the first place – nor any kind of punishment that doesn’t involve money.

2 No hospital in Britain – not one – is expected to balance its books this year. Are they all badly managed, and failing to make best use of reasonable budgets? Are our hospitals staffed by crooks and bureaucrats? Or are they simply not getting enough money?

3 Camila Batmangelidh is standing down as chief exec of Kids’ Company, because the government have accused her of mishandling finances and withheld the funding they give the charity. This comes after a long period of her repeatedly and publicly telling them that the care of very disabled and traumatised children is a duty of the state, and cannot be handled by the third sector in the way that they hope.

Repeatedly, we see the government making cuts to the point where they have a real, quantifiable impact on the sickest, poorest and most desperate. The government withdraws protection and support, and then when the effects are visible it blames the very people most in need of its support. Pay attention to the news. Note every one of these things.

Austerity, as journalist/activist Owen Jones has said, is not like the weather, a thing to be endured because we have no choice. It is a deliberate strategy by this government to roll back the welfare state and create a ‘new normal’ in which we blame those less well off than ourselves – the skivers, the irresponsible fools who miss their appointments and let us all down, the silly liberals who mean well but like children, can’t handle money and have no idea of fiscal responsibility.

Divide and conquer – they do it brilliantly. Kindness is not weakness. Stand up for love.

Published by Jo Bell

Poet, boater, archaeologist. Former director of the UK's National Poetry Day. One half of @OnThisDayShe. Erstwhile UK Canal Laureate, Cheshire Laureate. Host of The Poetic Licence on YouTube and Patreon (see links).

8 thoughts on “The pity is in the poetry. And nowhere else?

  1. I’m a huge fan of your poetry blog, Jo, but I don’t think this is the place for political outpouring, regardless of what these politics are. Post a poetic response – or someone else’s – not a (justified) rant.

    1. Sharon – I’m afraid it’s my blog, and I get to decide what I write on it. If you only want to read poetry on it then I am sorry, but I do get to choose what I post here.

  2. Reblogged this on Fox Unkennelled – Myfanwy Fox and commented:
    //Austerity, as journalist/activist Owen Jones has said, is not like the weather, a thing to be endured because we have no choice. It is a deliberate strategy by this government to roll back the welfare state and create a ‘new normal’ in which we blame those less well off than ourselves//

  3. Keep speaking out, Jo. If poets lose their courage, the nation’s “stories” will be utterly poisoned, and the people lost.

  4. The cathartic nature of a poet surely lends the writer an enviable skill in composing; what I for one consider, an interesting and strong view of politics. I don’t wholly and completely agree personally with the whole blog, but I certainly admire it’s strength and deeply consider it’s content with an open and interested mind. If politicians were poets, the world would be a better and more honest place.
    Only just discovered Jo Bell whilst timidly exploring my own interest in writing. Love what you do.

  5. Where better than a poetry blog, surely a safe refuge, to express the reality of life and death, and how we treat each other, especially when more than 80% of our press is owned by a conservative elite that denigrates a Labour Leader, elected for his integrity and honesty, by nearly half a million people, and which still chooses to refer to refugees as immigrants. At least the Guardian printed George Szirtes brilliant piece this week. But the weight is heavily loaded, and in amongst the much needed tweets on poetry and other inspirational words, let there be, at a time of great flux and fear for millions, protest and action, and words of compassion.

  6. Thank you for sharing. We none of us write poetry in a vacuum. sometimes the seed for a poem comes from autumn colours lit by a golden glow, Sometimes from navigating a vulnerable relative through uncaring patches of the NHS. Living in & experiencing “the real world” enriches us – whether we want it or not. The majority is not always right, so sharing values & valuing integrity isn’t always comfortable, but I would like to think that it might change the world for the better, bit by bit.
    Julia Wallis

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