The Ghost of Miniscule John Mann (after Bruce Springsteen) by Kevin Higgins

kevins dude
“The leadership election should be halted. It is becoming a farce
with long-standing members … in danger of getting trumped by
people who have opposed the Labour Party and want to break it up.
Some of it is the Militant Tendency types coming back in.”
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw

Men going through lists and scratching lines
through names they know
six months from now will be consigned
by committees of inquiry whose
conclusions were reached
long before they ever met
during big loud speeches
by the late Neil Kinnock. Meetings
held in mortuaries, during which
there was always five minutes
silence in memory of the Right Honourable
Robert Kilroy-Silk.

Stephen Byers MP nailing
to the front of his skull a sign
that screamed ‘For Hire’,
smoking cigars rolled vigorously
between Rupert Murdoch’s thighs.
Welcome to Turquoise Labour.
Traditional values in a modern set-up.
If you give so much as five pence
to the lower orders, make sure
management consultants
in darkest Leatherhead
never find out.

The internet’s alive tonight.
Where it’s headed, only he knows.
I’m sitting here waiting in the bathroom light
on the ghost of John Mann.

He pulls a rule book
from his NOLS* conference bag, lights
up a Benson & Hedges and sets a picture
of Arthur Scargill on fire.
Waiting for when the last shall
live on credit until it runs out, the first
be allowed grow fatter than the bastard child
of Boris Johnson and a blue whale.

Now John said, “Mom, wherever
there’s a cop beating the wrong guy, I’m there
lending a big, bulbous hand.
Wherever someone’s closing a door
on an immigrant family so fast
the youngest child gets her paw caught in it.
Wherever someone’s stalking
up and down Ilford High Street
with a placard that shrieks
“Down with Leninist Militants
who wrecked our party!”.
Whenever there’s someone not scared
to say it’s time for good men and women to
poo or remove their posteriors from the pot.
Look in their eyes, Mom,
and you’ll see me.”

Well the internet’s alive tonight
and everybody’s kidding themselves
about where this goes.
I’m sitting here in the bathroom light,
with just one remaining flimsy piece
of the cheapest bog roll going
having my head chewed off by
the ghost of miniscule John Mann
here in the bathroom light.


*National Organisation of Labour Students. Read up on its history during the period 1975-85 and then gently gouge your eyes out.

An evening of politicised poetry in Galway with Kevin Higgins et al