Democracy · General

A gender

One commentator expounds

On May digging in stiletto heels,

As he, on shaky and unlevel grounds

Blames a government’s historic failure;

To reach a workable deal

(With a gall that even now astounds)

On the Prime Minister’s gender,

 

The interviewer does not question assertions

Made with usual, casual, lethal sexism

As the commentator mentions a lack of children

As if that were a reason for derision;

Or cause of brinkmanship or inflexibility,

Equating female ambition

With a leader’s inability

Or unwillingness to seek

To engage constitutionally,

As if the issue was women in politics

Or in the monarchy,

As if there were the statistics

To back up such misogyny;

Too few women have led

To make such sweeping analogy,

It is not May’s womanhood

For which she owes apology.

Culture · Democracy · General

Without Representation

Tax without representation equals tyranny;

This was a grievance in the seventeen-sixties

Across thirteen American Colonies

Whose governance came from across seas,

Remote, unresponsive to necessities

They could not heed, and so cried liberty,

For to pay yet be muzzled is to suffer cruelty,

 

This became a seed of the revolution;

For tax must be money taken from citizens

For the betterment of community and nation

Not a cyphering or selective elevation

Of one group requiring others’ humiliation,

 

To take taxes from persons with zero say

In how their money’s used is autocracy;

An absolutism keeping justice at bay

Until people cried, “We won’t pay

To have our voice or home taken away,

We won’t subsidise being silenced.”

 

Later, in another century, women cried this too;

Or at least the wealthy, unmarried or widowed

Women with means, numbering only a few,

Less than four decades since wedded women knew

The right to own any property or money; to accrue

Or keep inheritance or wages, never mind a view,

 

But although they had no say in how it was spent

They were legally bound to pay tax to a Parliament,

That might as well have been on another continent

For how much it heard, saw or represented them

Or any women, for it was a male ego Bastian

That sought to retain unilateral male dominance,

Where men owned wives’ bodies, owned children,

Where women’s sole fortune was a kind man,

Where the death of a cruel one was petty treason,

Where women were thought to have no sense or reason,

 

Those times are (mostly) gone,

In many but not all ways

We have moved on,

In others the patterns replay

On and on and on,

 

And yet always there is disenfranchisement;

Subjugation, marginalisation recurrent

For those who cannot vote for their government

But must pay taxes, amongst these are migrants

Who work and pay their way yet are censured

And scapegoated, all successes thrice earned

In economic downturn, less guarded by laws,

 

My thinking friends, take into consideration

Those with no vote still subject to taxation;

For those with no parliamentary representation

Are those who suffer the worst discrimination;

 

For policies are built for those who may elect

And those most represented get most respect,

 

So, when the powerful blame migrants again

Know it’s because politicians can cast blame

And shame on those with other national origins

Because at election time MPs only have to win

The approval of born or chosen British citizens,

 

It is the same with young people

Who may have sex, go into battle,

Be taxed, labour, work and toil

Years before their opinion counts at all

To those who’d label them criminal,

 

Tax but no vote from age sixteen

Then under-represented and side-lined

By those who chose to demean,

 

If you are white, male, heterosexual,

Born here, still fully abled,

Born well off, aligned to the sex assigned

At birth and forty or more

Then you are the ones they write policies for,

 

And, although this status quo is challenged

The more we are of this, the more we are privileged,

The more our likeness is, in Westminster, reflected,

The more our needs and interests are respected

And the more our right to thrive is protected,

 

But those who cannot elect or be elected

Still pay into the pot,

But when the going gets tough they’re neglected,

Their contribution denied, rights overlooked,

 

I look at anti-migrant rhetoric

Recalling slogans of regulators and suffragists,

All people just trying to live

Without being banished, alienated

Or slated for taking when they give,

The lies about them are practiced,

Expected, accepted, authoritative,

 

To those who believe them I ask them to think

About present and historic links

Between those who aren’t permitted a vote

And those in society who are scorned the most,

 

Because it is not democracy,

At times it smacks of tyranny,

It opens the gate to mockery,

Hate crimes, partiality, bigotry

 

And is a smoke screen shielding plutocracy;

A version of this played out in ancient Greece,

And to those who say it’s always been like this

I’d say we create more damage when we believe

Authorities when they accuse voteless minorities

And under-represented communities,

It is divide and rule policy based on demography,

Truth is more complex and harder to retrieve

When a nation enables its leaders to deceive

Then buys the bullshit on Brexit and votes ‘leave’.