Poet Kevin Higgins has been suspended from the Labour Party for over 18 months, apparently for writing this satirical poem about the Blairs. For background to this case see here.
What Did The Politician Get His Wife?
after Bertolt Brecht
And what did she get, the girlfriend,
from the student union meeting
at which he rose to his feet
and realised he could speak?
From that meeting she got
the Snickers bar he forgot to eat
so busy was he watching them listen;
and that speech, unabridged,
every other night for thirty five years.
And what did she get, his new wife,
from the time he first used a party
conference microphone to agree with both sides?
Those okay with the Moslems/Mexicans/Gypsies being here,
and those who want them kept over there.
From that microphone she took away their
invitation to dine with the Deputy Mayor
and his not new wife.
And what did she get, his no longer new wife,
when, at the second attempt,
he won that seat on the City Council?
From his election she got to drink Pinot Noir
and go swimming in their private club
with the no-so-new wives
of those who got the contracts
to make the paving stones and install
the pay-and-display ticket machines
during his years as Chairman
of the relevant committee.
And what did she get, his well-maintained wife,
the night he was elected to the big shiny
parliament? From that night she took away
an architect to re-design their new three storey pad
in the priciest possible part of the capital,
and an article about herself
in the Daily Express lifestyle pages.
And what did she get, the no longer new MP’s
no longer new wife, the morning
they made him Minister?
That morning she got to go horse riding
with the Leader of the House of Lords’
fourth (or fifth) wife..
And what did she get, the no longer new
Cabinet Minister’s wife, the night the landslide
made him Prime Minister? That night
she got to hold to her breast
invitations to break foie gras
with the Sultan of Brunei, the President of China;
and the chance to write husband’s speech
announcing the crackdown on beggars
who accost hard working
families who stop to ask for directions
en route to the nearest funeral parlour.
And what did she get, the ex-Prime Minister’s
no longer new wife, from all the depleted uranium shells
he had dropped during the Battle of Basra, all the soldiers
he sent to meet improvised explosive
devices in far Mesopotamia in the hope
of getting rid of something bigger
than the beggars and prostitutes
at Kings Cross. For these she got
white night terrors
of him on trial for all their crimes,
and the desire to never again
look out the front window of their fine
Connaught Square house
at the tree from which, it’s said,
they used to once string
To whom it may concern,
On June 27th 2016 poet Kevin Higgins was suspended from the British Labour Party, of which he is an overseas member in the Labour International CLP (http://www.labourinternational.net/).
Kevin’s offence was, apparently, that he had written satirical poems about several of Jeremy Corbyn’s then critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party. This occurred at the start of the unsuccessful attempt to force Corbyn to resign as Leader in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
After receiving what he describes as a “peculiar series of emails” from UK Labour HQ in early 2017, on March 15th last Kevin wrote to the party’s Governance & Legal Unit informing them that he wished to make a Subject Access Request under current UK Data Protection legislation. Under this legislation the UK Labour Party are legally obliged to disclose to Kevin, within forty days, all documents relating to him in their possession. Nine months later they have yet to respond to Kevin’s request, putting them in clear violation of their legal obligations.
In April UK Labour HQ invited Kevin to be interviewed by telephone about the accusations against him, one of which was announcing on social media that he had rewritten Bertolt Brecht’s poem ‘Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife’ and turned it into a satire on Tony and Cherie Blair. Kevin’s interview was to take place on Tuesday April 18th but was cancelled by UK Labour HQ when Theresa May called a General Election that morning.
Kevin has heard nothing from the UK Labour Party since, though he continues to pay his membership fee and campaigned for the party while on holiday in the UK during the General Election campaign in May.
We think it absurd that someone can remain suspended from the UK Labour Party for eighteen months for the supposed crime of writing satirical poems and call on the party’s Legal and Government Unit to immediately clarify this situation.
Luke Ming Flanagan MEP
Quincy R. Lehr
Tricia Neda McLaughlin
Susan Millar DuMars
UPDATE 3/1/2018 the above letter has been published in today’s issue of The Morning Star newspaper and there is also an article about the case which you can read here.
UPDATE 4/1/2018 article about the case in this week’s Galway Advertiser.
UPDATE 5/1/2018 I am interviewed about the case on Broadsheet on the Telly. Apologies for bad sound quality on my link, entirely my fault. I am. in some senses. a technological troglodyte. But, in the words of Manuel, “I learn. I learn!”
UPDATE 11/1/2018 article about the case on blog of Tony Greenstein of Labour Against The Witch-hunt.