Wednesday, 7 June 2017

On your Marks ... please vote.

An awful lot has happened since Mrs May decided to go to the country and Parliament was dissolved. I can scarcely recall a worse month in my life.  I hate listening to all the twaddle and dirt that is flung during political campaigns. This one has been punctuated by the merciless killing of innocent children and concert goers in Manchester, followed by the indiscriminate murder of visitors to our wonderful capital, many of whom travelled here from countries that have not been actively involved in any of the recent overseas conflicts.

A brief respite from the relentless TV debates and endless social media pushes, by all the political parties ,would usually be welcome. In this case, I am sure that you would rather have more of that, than witness the carnage that has befallen our two, much loved, artistic hubs and largest populated cities.

The anger that rages to bring about such carnage, tears at the very heart of our democracy. We have many rights under our beloved constitution and Magna Carta to thank for many, though not all. It was the beginning of constitutional freedom: a magnificent document from which most of our laws, rights and freedoms were derived. Magna Carta was the catalyst for the end of tyrannical rule and arbitrary imprisonment in England.

In 1258, the Provisions of Oxford, sometimes referred to as the first ever written constitution, provided for a Council of twenty-four members through whom the King should govern, to be supervised by a Parliament. This was convened for the first time in 1264 by Simon de Montfort (d. 1265). During the constitutional conflicts of the 17th century, the Petition of Right (1628) relied on Magna Carta for its legal basis, setting out rights and liberties of the subject including freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment. The Bill of Rights (1689) then settled the primacy of Parliament over the monarch’s prerogatives, providing for the regular meeting of Parliament, free elections to the Commons, free speech in parliamentary debates and some basic human rights, most famously freedom from ‘cruel or unusual punishment’. This was shortly followed by the Act of Settlement (1701) which controlled succession to the Crown and established the vital principle of judicial independence.

It didn't end there.  On 24th February 1834, Dorset farm labourer George Loveless set off to work, saying goodbye to his wife Betsy and their three children. They were not to meet alone again for three years, for as he left his cottage in the rural village of Tolpuddle, the 37-year-old was served with a warrant for his arrest.


Loveless and five fellow workers – his brother James, James Hammett, James Brine, Thomas Standfield and Thomas's son John – were charged with having taken an illegal oath. Their real crime in the eyes of the establishment was to have formed a trade union to protest about their meagre pay of six shillings a week – the equivalent of 30p in today's money and the third wage cut in as many years.The Tolpuddle martyrs were transported to an Australian penal colony. The ensuing riots and amendments to our constitution brought about the Right to Freedom of Association and ultimately the right to belong to a trade union.

The Right to Freedom of Worship has not always been an integral part of our law but is now embedded as part of The European Act of Human Rights. The common law offence of 'blasphemy' was only repealed in 2008.

The fight for women's suffrage was long and arduous. It began before WW1 and had to resume afterwards.  At times it was violent and militant but once it began there was no holding it back. The Representation of the People Act granted women over 30 the right to vote, as long as they were married to or a member of Local Government Register. It also extended men's suffrage to the right for all men to vote over the age of 21 and abolished most property qualifications for men.

Women were only granted suffrage equal to men under the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise Act) 1928. The age for women to vote was lowered to 21 and property qualifications reduced to the same as for men.

Our freedoms, our voting franchise and our equal rights under the law are the envy of the world.  No wonder then, that when any of those freedoms are threatened from outside or indeed challenged by those who have our own protection, those who have been accepted to live here under the Rule of Law in our enviable democracy - no wonder - that we all unite to show that we shall not falter in our determination to stand together as free men and women.

Britain is one of the greatest and most diverse nations in the world. Today is your chance to exercise your rights with full participation in the democratic process. Please vote.  Please vote thoughtfully and understanding the gravitas of your simple cross. Please stand up for the freedoms that previous generations have fought to give you.

I hope to see you at The Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Election Night open mic - from 6.30pm this evening at Ben & Johnny's Bar, 2a Wood Street, St Annes.


The party's almost over -

Tonight it's all done, bar the shouting
We’ve all put our cross in the box.
We‘ve suffered the weeks of campaigning.
We’ve heard all the parties complaining.
Our sums double-checked,
Our heads truly pecked,   
but soon the doors will triple-lock.
Slips will be tipped onto tables,
as candidates pull at their hair,
the counters will work ‘till the wee small hours,
until the results are declared.
The BBC gave us ‘reality checks’
to pull the wool out of our eyes, 
Two leaders went ‘mano a mano’ with Paxman,
but didn’t get many wise words in edgewise.
The maleficent seven played ‘Give us a Cluedo’
as they stood in a rainbow on stage.

"I’ll mix it up Mustard” the joker,
set the tone of the evenings debate,  
suggesting a Brexit – the sequel,
someone should tell him that nag has bolted,
the voters have sealed their own fate.  
He'll be lucky to get a hung parliament
and form a new Lib/Lab pact
or Coalition 'Two.'

There was brazen Miss Scarlet,
provoking the powerless Plum,
she was talking up fairness as terms of divorce,
but I’m still mulling over that one.

Oh, Irreverent Green
with her solar machine,
a little West country mouse.
Will the winds of political climate change
help you rearrange
the colour of seats in the  power house?

Stand back for the Blue Cross Peacock,
strutting the Union estate,
promoting 'The Great British Break Off',
and a separate Nation state,
There's still a big wall on the border,
it just needs a coat of paint.   

Old Whitebeard came late to the party,
to put the PM in her place,
Mrs May sent her Amber replacement,
who let them all argue, a smirk on her face,
Theresa remained in the library
re-writing her manifest.
Last seen with a piece of lead piping,
wearing a bullet-proof vest. 

Some people have stuck to their viewpoint,
Still blinkered by media tripe,
Some walked down the road to Damascus:
and were blinded by the light,
I refuse to follow the pollsters – they seldom get anything right.
But I hope that us Lancashire voters  
have all said ‘enough is enough’.
If you think you can frack with our county
don’t count on a landslide from us.

Theresa  May’s hoping to take us,
through Brexit and beyond,
Corbyn is not for the few but the many,
it a terribly catchy song.
So roll up - roll up and get ready
for a magical mystery tour.
We asked all our questions,
we’ve all played a card,
By morning we’ll know
If it’s soft or it’s hard
Perhaps we’ll all dance to different tune.
I wonder ... 
who thought we'd be asked to vote May in June?

Adele V Robinson 8 June 2017 - Thanks for reading voters.
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