Friday, 8 February 2019

‘Britain, a country that works for everyone’

‘Britain, a country that works for everyone’
- Theresa May, Prime Minister, July 13 2016

Stephen Smith, age 64,
threw himself at mercy’s door
and found it was locked.

Stephen Smith, seriously ill,
applied for help to pay the bills,
application blocked.

Stephen Smith, human being,
went searching for some fellow feeling,
but found himself knocked

back, by the officer, the supervisor,
the system, and more,
DWP tribunals that
worked out a score 

and told him, while agony seeped through his joints,
and his breathing got worse, that he hadn’t the points,
the points to prove that his life was at risk
cos the score is what matters, it’s the number of ticks;
not the starvation weight, 
it’s the score on the paper that sealed his fate,
fit, they said, to find work with pay,
and don’t let reality get in the way.

So, who’s to blame for the mess?
Esther McVey? Or I.D.S.?
Or some lawmaker who came before,
who made the rules, devised the tests,
but didn’t see the plan would worsen
when applied to a real live person.

Theresa May, 
on the day elected,
told the nation 
she expected
to fight against 
burning injustice,
to make the country 
work for all,
a promise which soon 
became a myth.
And to find out how,
ask Stephen Smith.

© Charlie Lambert

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Charlie is a former sports journalist who worked for the Liverpool Echo and the BBC. He began writing poetry in 2016. He lives in Liverpool.