Budget Mail (with apologies to W H Auden)

18 Mar

This is the Budget coming from the dispatch box

Bringing the new economic order

Tax cuts for the rich, how much for the poor,

Or the shop on the corner or the girl next door?

Channelling Renton (‘choose life’) a steady climb,

The deficit’s against him but he says he’s got time

Walking tall again, Britain’s getting bolder

Braying support from over his shoulder,

Noisy mayhem on the green benches

(All of them notable for lack of wenches).


Quietening down as he clarifies approaches

To spending and borrowing and where debt encroaches

Austerity cannot change its course;

Youth slumber on what have they lost?

Farmers get to spread their costs – they’re awake

But the bedroom tax still stalks estates.


Osborne freshens the climb is done,

Down towards detail he descends

Towards the Northern powerhouse where he amends, how to recoup business rates,

And adds support for transport and for health,

Set out on the page like gigantic innovations.

All Scotland awaits him:

In ‘one United Kingdom’

People long for something new.


Tax cuts for the rich, share sales from banks

Freedom in ISAs, and housebuyers say thanks

Welfare reform and invitations

To pursue tax avoidance or tax evasion,

And rising applications for situations

And married person’s tax allowance declarations

And gossip, gossip from all the papers:

Circumstantial news, financial capers.

Measures with living standards shown enlarging

Others say pressures still there on the margins

Measures for pensioners and air ambulances

Yorkshire job creation bigger than France’s,

Measures to support veterans and remember wars

And the 600th anniversary of Agincourt

Measures to appeal to every political hue

The purple, the orange, the green and blue,

The hard-working, the saving, the reassuringly boring

The digital natives, the orchestras touring,

Measure for middle-term, short-term and long,

Measures that some will say just are plain wrong.


Thousands are still undecided

Dreaming of alternative futures

And friendly candidates on the doorstep or the ballot paper:

Deciding in working Glasgow, deciding in well-set Edinburgh

Deciding in oil-rich Aberdeen,

And even in England they continue their dreams

And shall wake soon longing for results

And none will switch on the TV or the radio

Without a quickening of the heart

For who can bear to find out if they’re forgotten?




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