St. Jude–& the Jew of Welfare

It’s true: newspapers make the news: the media
Mediates reality, massages its edges to
Accommodate camouflaged agendas of vested
Interests and private investors –but, as well,
Actually manufactures it (though we’re told
We can choose whichever version of reality
We wish to, they’re only scalloping microscopic
Replicas from the same root-mould, carbon copies
You couldn’t put a scalpel between, scaling
Ever-regressing variegations of “right-wing”,
Representing a “free press” only in the sense
That it’s “free” for those who are in ownership of it,
But not for its great unwashed readerships –
There must be more to ‘democracy’ than simply
Opting for others to form opinions for us…?)
And never more so than today, where agendas
Are set not by parties but by red-top parrots
Of blue torch opinions, cropped topics, pre-packaged
Austerity narratives (“structural deficits”
Spout parliamentary performing monkeys
To the organ-ground tune of the Troika and Markets),
And spot-the-“sponger” splashes snatching our
Attention from hectoring newsstands, tall tales
Of “benefit cheats”, “handout” Trolls, Ogreous
“Scroungers” and other Giro-grotesques –out
Of frothing mouths of rabid Malthusians
(Eugenics-inflected columnists not naming
Any names, just mapping out generalisations,
Or punting out straw-boater hate and Oxbridge-
Borne opprobrium channelled by A.N. Wilson):
The common mythology of shadow-projection
That pours all our problems into sample shampoos
Of self-escaping prejudices, malicious
Lotions that sublimate private vices into
Public taboos and scapegoat-prescriptions,
And miracle cures of Lourdes spas sponsored
By Atos Solutions, persecutory tonics
Bottled in novelty folk-devil vessels,
Anthropomorphic moulds of near-tangible
Undesirables, “useless eaters” weaned off
The sterilised wolf-teats of the Welfare State,
Drip-fed with vouchers, coupons and penalties,
And gas-tap stigmas hissing imperceptibly,
The unemployed are punch-bags for moral panics,
Pin-cushions for spivs of voodoo doles…
Contrapuntal to this Benefits Diaspora, the papers
Whipped up another phantom storm last October,
Setting itchy teeth on edge for the morning thunder
After the night before 28th of the month:
Projections of trees torn out from their roots
By elemental dentists who don’t use anaesthetics –
Each yew-stump a rotten tooth; of pugilist gusts
And phalange-grappling gales, of Herculean
Hurricanes wrenching out power-lines across
The exposed Home Counties –and a battering
Of coastal chalk fortresses grinding away in
Blustery fits of Bruxism –another whirlwind
A la 1987 all over again… Only, it barely
Happened, although many eye and ear witnesses
Swear it did, and there’s the edited footage
To pay elliptical media-testament to it;
Proleptic reports to persist with the phantasy
That there was a storm, according to ‘data’ and
Statistics of casualties to back it all up –
So much meteorological agitprop:
Weather forecasters –as with ratings agencies
Pace Standard & Poor, Moodys, and pin-striped
Economic pundits in thick-rimmed designer
Glasses –can’t be wrong, can they? Or if they are,
Put simply: they should have gone to Specsavers
What is it with the British mentality…?
When we choose en masse to believe in something
Without evidence, as if wilfully submitting
To some insubstantial ‘faith’, we automatically
Opt not for a miracle but a curse,
Or a pestilence –in this case, a blast of bad weather,
A wind-tossed spectacle… We being a bad-
Tempered people, elementally temperamental
For our capricious climate of soughing grey skies,
Conscientiously overcast, through which we vent
Our blustery frustrations and gusts of disgust –
We vote with our weather-vanes, pointing every
Which way the wind throws us, we’re only
Political in the scope of clouded forecasts,
Focuses for our disenfranchised wraths,
Vicarious spleen-vents on cumulus prospects,
Storm clouds, high winds, historically low turnouts…
Or have we become so disposed to poor moods,
So displaced in perception, so accustomed to
Disappointment, to not expecting any good
To come from anything on this dry-rotting,
Grotty little island kingdom, where only
Prices and apathies rise up with the damp;
Are we so sanitised to comfortable glumness,
A psychical damp-proofing to preclude
The creeping mould of disgruntlement and
Protect against sudden ruptures of despair,
That we’ve accepted we’re no longer a land
Of hope, but mostly Tory: attitudinally
Rigid, heart-hardened, hope-constipated,
Spiritless, or suitably embittered by
Establishment betrayals, those that have happened
And those that are forecast to happen in the Braille-
Embossed brochures of unforeseeable futures,
That we think it better to presume the worst
Of ourselves and others, to presume headline-
Grabbing guilt before un-newsworthy innocence,
Assume that the lamb that reportedly came
To our green resentful land was just another
Empty promise, gesture, or purse, a wolf in
Scapegoat’s clothing –a hope-fleecing phantom?
What more appropriate sobriquet to bestow
On this phantom storm than “St. Jude”, patron saint
Of hopeless cases, lost causes and the impossible,
Which would seem to include the projected
Scapegoats of contemporary England , those
Totems for hyperbolic coiners of ‘Scroungeland’:
ASBOs, NEETs, Gypsies, CHAVs, Irish travellers,
Roma, Romanians, Bulgarians, “Scroungers”,
“Spongers”, “malingerers”, WRAGS, Giro-ghouls,
Dubious Gentiles, and the burgeoning sub-breed
Of the ubiquitous and well-disguised Dole-Jude,
The Welfare Jew… And, on top of all this,
There are now more clumps of “scrounging” cloud
Smudging over the windswept Downs , scourge
Of cumulus Nimbyus, amassing in coupon-
Clutching reinforcements at Dover , in spite
Of rhetorical hoardings put up to repel
Inland-bound gales of immigration, to signpost
‘No DSS’: last but one of the acceptable
British discriminations, apocryphal Eleventh
Commandment tacked on by Pontius Pilate & Sons
Letting Agents (who won’t let any claimants in)
And Buy-To-Vet private landlords invoking
Acquisitive vows of proscriptive sieving
To the grasping trinity of unregulated
Demiurges: Property, Portfolio and Profit –
An intransigent tenet to sift out state-assisted
Tenants, a binding contract with the Great Architect
Whose all-seeing eye leopard-spots their bespoke
Speculations, while his sphincter-tight smile chalk-
Stripes their suit-vestments, and capital investments,
Commanding them: ‘Thou Shalt Not Accept DSS’…
What was “St. Jude” at the end of the fray?
A muscular gale of mostly stormy rumour,
A tempest composed of eighty per cent hyperbole,
And the rest, a lot of hot wind, hardly a hurricane:
Some trees felled in Hampshire, a handful of fatalities,
A couple of swept-up toupees, and a quotidian
Occurrence of another line down for routine
Myth-maintenance –but hardly a repeat of ’87;
Isn’t quite the same as IN OVER TWO DECADES:
Unlikely to sell much copy –hence our crumpling
Newspaper industry opted for a sough
Of huge headlines to heighten the water margins…
…and so, “St. Jude” was magnified to a Giant
Far bigger in print than in reality (our
Media moguls reliably buoyed once again
On Great British gullibility), as is the daily
“Scrounger”-Ogre who ghosts Beveridge’s Five
Beleaguered Giants –Want, Idleness, Disease,
Squalor, Ignorance : the post-Thatcherite Sixth:
Benefits Dependency: the flipped elephant
In the jumbo boardrooms of corporate capitalism’s
Periodically collapsing employment apparatus…
But Grand Guignol and rumour-mongering
Of mythological copy sells as many rags –
Moguls guard most jealously their ‘Scroungerology’,
So they’ll keep stringing out their malign gossip,
“Sponger”-propaganda, “scrounger”-mongering –
All so much poverty pornography; keep
Pouring out their poison and vitriol straight down
Our throats until our own parroting mouths
Sprout thought-forms of cloven hooves and
“Workshy” horns, strike the Right attitudes
Against the profitless plateau of Unity,
Spice up the truth till it’s piquant with old
‘Scroungerphobic’ soupcon soaking our lexicon –
Then print, and keep printing, to hypnotise grasping
Publics shopping for the latest designer labels
And stigmas, until even reality readjusts
The facts to suit the attitudes, succumbs itself
To print-hypnotism, media-mesmerism,
Commercial Mendelism –no surer self-fulfilling
Prophecy than brainstorming taboos, projecting
Shadows over a spot of Starbucks frothy coffee
First thing in the editor’s suite at the Daily Express,
Hypnopompic red-top, Desmond’s Pseudologia
Published through Northern & Shell’s sleight-of-hand
Media group, a meme-machine manufactured
By Cagliostro & Sons –a mechanical Pinocchio
Specially equipped with dysphemistic typeset
To hammer out spontaneous anti-“scrounger” rhetoric…
But for a slightly more ‘upmarket’ slice of crypto-
Fascist fiction with your grapefruit in the morning,
There’s always the Daily Mailthusian,
Inveterately anti-everything, except its’ own
Implicit prejudices rinsed in public through
The greasy Rothmere wringer (old contemptible
And intransigent right-winger of the mainstream
British press, tub-thumper for the Blackshirts
In the Thirties, contrapuntal propaganda-organ
To Oswald Mosley’s Action), polluting public
Opinion through its misanthropic copy –trumped-
Up trumpeter of malicious gossip, splenetic,
Off-topic, personal manifesto of fear-and-loathing
Self-fellatio for its teeth-clenched editor, dummy-
Grimacing Dacre, spleen-venting ventriloquist
Of vicarious grievances, Tsar of social scapegoating,
Éminence grise of self-regulation, selective
Reuptaker of the Chair of the Editor’s Code
Of Practice Committee, an emphatically
Separate body to the Press Complaints Commission
In whose shell-likes it whispers points on protocols
And procedures, rendering it mute (the mouth
Of the “toothless” PCC is past cosmetic dentistry)…
But even the more ‘respectable’ supplements
Of bowl-scraping moral panics can scoop up
An unpalatable helping on the runcible spoon
For their soup-sipping blue-rinsed readerships,
As Dacre discovered, much to his sour taste,
After his paper’s splash on the Opposition Leader’s
Deceased dad, Comrade Ralph, and its poorly-
Concealed spicing with aromatic soupçons
Of anti-Semitic piquancy, proboscis-scoped
Tropes probing both father and son’s ‘suspect’
Tap-on-the-nose associations (‘Communist’
As euphemism for ‘Jewish’ –would have been
A double whammy for Karl Marx): ante-
-diluvian déjà vu straight from Disraeli days,
Though now “One Nation” is no longer blue,
But another bourgeois gloss for Obsolete Labour) –
Rightly, a public outcry ensued, Mail-subscribers
Included, suddenly deeply offended by
The openly persecutory tone of a newspaper
They’d long-supported, and to whose broadly
Discriminatory tack on practically any topic
They’d hitherto subscribed: so shocking that
Rothmere’s rag –which once danced to the tune
Of the British Union of Fascists– should stoop
To such “unacceptable” anti-Jewish tittle-tattle!
Anti-welfarism is one thing, stigmatisation
Of single mothers on benefits greased in eugenics
Vocabulary, the call for a capping of babies
Wrapped in giro-nappies, the thuggish hounding
Of “scroungers” and the “workshy” (“arbeitsscheu”),
Columns recommending welfare claimants
Be denied the vote (and so, by implication,
Denied full rights of citizenship), be stripped
Of benefits and thrown coupons for food banks,
Or special payment cards to police their purchases
And more visibly single them out in public as
Objects for hate-projection, an economically
Unproductive sub-species, parasites on
The taxpayers –BUT to so baldly brutalise
A minority on the basis of their race or religion,
That really is taking things too far for the tolerant
And compassionate English persuasion –What next:
Supplemental pogroms on the Roma, Romanians
And Bulgarians? That’s just not the British way!
You can’t persecute those who haven’t chosen
To be Chosen: after all, the unemployed choose
To be unemployed, but Jews don’t choose to be Jews.
It’s true: newspapers make the news, and more
Than just metaphorically speaking: they shape
And manipulate factual parameters, cheapen
Polemic with swipes and smears, commoditise
Vacillating views into vitriol;
Reciprocate cut-and-paste public ‘opinions’
Sculpted out from the warped dominions
Of their coarse-grained lampblack columns;
They help us to strike the Right twisted attitudes,
Disrupt our capacity for rational thought
With well-placed spikes of opprobrious tropes
Signposting new types of tax-sapping parasites,
Punching the buttons of phobic compulsions
To spice up their copy, fruitfully intrude on
Our flights to reflection through feedback from
The tuning-forks of their reflexive views,
Spoonfuls of offal from their glorified rags –
Yellow journalism’s an origamic game:
Sculpting paper scapegoats to soak up all the blame
For our gripes, red herrings ripe for common rood:
 Each disposable tabloid needs a disposable Jude…
Alan Morrison
Montage: Claire Palmer


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