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A Personal (current) ‘Little List’ . . .

Apparently KoKo’s (the recently appointed Lord High Executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado) ‘I’ve Got a Little List’ of ‘society offenders who never will be missed’ is the most parodied of Gilbert’s lyrics. In 1992 Peter Lilley MP, the then social security secretary, recited his version at the Conservative Party Conference.

Lilley’s list included: ‘benefit offenders who I'll soon be rooting out and who never would be missed ... ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list and dads who won’t support the kids of ladies they’ve just kissed, and I haven’t even mentioned all those sponging socialists’.

Not nice, to say the least, I think many will agree.

And yet even though there was much critique of Lilley’s speech at the time in 2009 UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn felt confident when writing this, in support of the minister’s previous pronouncements:

Popular culture, which once endorsed the liberal view that Lilley was a bigot, has now accepted the reality of the situation he outlined all those years ago.

The irresponsibility of the underclass has become a television staple, from the Jeremy Kyle show to dramas like Shameless and documentaries from the meanest streets.

Flynn continued:

We know Labour will do nothing about the workshy underclass. But curiously we are not sure what action the Tories would take. . . .

When Mr Cameron explains what he intends to do about it, as he soon must, he should seek Mr Lilley’s advice. As John Major once put it, the time has come to condemn a little more and understand a little less. (please trust me that this piece was published in the Daily Express, I'd rather not post the link).

For me, at least, despite a change in discourse – Theresa May constantly talks about ‘a country that works for all’ and similar - the policies and practices of the current government continue to dismiss, insult, even demonise those that are labelled as ‘undeserving’, or at least as ‘less deserving’ than an increasingly small number of elite individuals.

This has serious and significant consequences for all of us, not least as it appears that some still believe the smears and the slurs and can still be persuaded that there is more to fear from those who have little than from some of those who have a lot.

Reflecting on this has prompted me to think about my own ‘Little List’ which includes what some might think (I couldn't say) is a brief reference to what the Sunday Times recently called the ‘Brexit gravy train’ (which ironically (or maybe not so)) Peter Lilley, along with other Conservative ex-ministers, has been criticised for riding).

I’ve Got a Little List

As some day is may happen that a victim must be found

I’ve got a little list – well not such a little list,

Of societies offenders who we wish were not around,

And who never would be missed,

Who never would be missed!

There’s those who raid the public purse, enough to fill a chest,

With jobs galore themselves they claim there’s plenty for the rest.

Ignoring poor conditions, zero-hours, real-wage decline,

They’d none of them be missed – they’d none of them be missed.

Folk who SCREAM that more is lost from cheats amongst the poor,

Rather than the ones who store their billions far off-shore.

Those who worry that the homelessness are cluttering outside spaces,

With little (actually more often it seems like no) concern for those who live and sleep in sub-standard places.

When all evidence suggests that life for most is harder. Do you think they would missed?

I feel sure they’d not be missed.

I’ve got them on the list - I’ve got them on MY list; And they'll none of 'em be missed – you know they’ll not be missed.

The so-called public servants who care more about themselves,

Putting 'Party' before country with no interest in yourselves

There’s one whose gaffs notorious threaten life and liberty,

He never would be missed – he never would be missed.

His own preposterous insults and those of like-mind ‘brothers’,

Proclaimed as ‘caustic wit’. In fact, disrespect of others.

His plans for building bridges that would cost a pretty penny,

His shifting positionality means he’s no longer fooling any (we can but hope),

His slurs, attacks and smears of those working ‘for the many’.

I don’t think he’ll be missed.

I’m sure he’ll not be missed, (along with many others of this colleagues who I could have devoted this verse to). I’ve got him (and the rest) on the list, I’ve got him on MY list.

And I don't think that he'll be missed, I'm sure he'll not be missed.

There’s those who claim that food-bank use is nothing but ‘uplifting’,

Whilst all the time it’s obvious that society is drifting.

The ones denying crises in justice, education and the rest,

They’d surely not be missed – I feel sure they’d not be missed.

We haven’t even started on the problems within health,

Clear evidence of pressure and selling off by stealth.

And whilst thousands upon thousands march in support of our NHS,

There’s others here and overseas who disregard the stress,

Misinformed or ignorant they do nothing to impress. Do you really think they would missed?

I don’t believe they could be missed.

I’ve got them on the list - I’ve got them on MY list; And they'll none of 'em be missed – you know they’ll not be missed.

In sum I’m thinking of the ones claiming they are strong and stable,

Self-defined geniuses who self-proclaim themselves as able.

Their privileging of self, whilst putting others on a list, Means there’s none of them we’d miss — they'd none of them be missed.

The pundits and the journalists who think they know it all,

Who won’t listen to the challenge, dismissing every other call.

There’s people who spread hate and make is hard to cope,

As they shout down the voices that offer rays of hope,

The ones who troll and bully to our faces and online,

I’m sure they won’t be missed,

Absolutely sure they won’t be missed. Let’s put them on the list, I know I’ve got them on MY list.

They’ll none of them be missed. You know they won’t be missed.

Unlike the Mikado - nor when pushed his Lord High Executioner KoKo - I am not, of course, advocating any form of capital or corporal punishment. Rather, I am hoping for a general election and a Labour Government to save us all from the current foolishness and horror. Also wishing for something similar for others overseas with whom we share a 'special relationship'.


I’m not the only one to get some inspiration from Gilbert and Sullivan in the past months as there are some wonderful re-workings online of ‘I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General’ (Pirates of Penzance) referencing the current US President - have a look.

For more by this author visit Gayle Letherby's blog

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