Human rights

A human has the right to live,

The right to love and be loved in return,

The right to grow, 

the right to learn.
A human has the right to be safe

live free from fear

The right to live 

without flows of tears.
Your rights are their rights,


Deprive them,

Deny them

you deny yours and mine.
Rights are rights ,

be it in the remains of a bombed city,

A refugee camp

Or the streets of Britain.


Aleppo 2016

News beamed

To distant to screens,

Of scenes of 1940s brutality,

1990s cruelty,


Lack of humanity in this young century.

This is a place where a ceasefire isn’t a ceasefire,

The writ of international law means nothing here,

Amongst the bomb pounded city.

While the world watches,

The Angels of death in the skies above

Unleash an apocalypse.

The ruins tell,

Where once, 

in ancient Aleppo people did dwell,

Now on earth we behold hell.

Grammar school

An education policy with the intention of turning back the clock, reinforcing, not breaking down a socially divided nation.

Grammar school

Welcome dear students

To grammar school,

For you my chaps who are born to rule.
A return to the good old days,

Mortarboards and school ties,

Perfecting the sneers from privileged eyes.

We can afford the extra tuition,

For admission based on examination.

to conserve, to preserve,

Our selective social position.
Carpe Diem,

Tempus fugit,

Latin mottos, a password,

a passport

To running this divided nation.

My lesson plans,

Don’t select based on background,

Do not deny opportunity.

A verb is a verb, a noun is a noun,

Whether you can pass an entrance exam or not,

It matters not.

In my classroom you can aspire,

To a future you can choose,

A verb is a verb, a noun is a noun.

Cap of Liberty (peterloo) 

A poem commemorating the Peterloo massacre of 1819, when 18 were killed in Manchester just for seeking the vote.

Cap of Liberty

Peaceful assembly 

on the fields

Seeking reform, the vote,


Banners flying,

Topped with that old symbol,

The red cap of


They came riding riding,

Sabres drawn

Just like Waterloo,

A battle against lady Liberty.

Riding down and slashing

People like you and me

18 butchered innocently,

Red the colour of the blood stain

And the cap of Liberty.

King Charles III 

  Last night, I saw King Charles III during its Manchester stop on its U.K. Tour. I must say, it’s a play that has intrigued me for some time, from its title, to the provocative posters. I wasn’t disappointed at all! Without wanting to spoil the many twists and turns of the plot, the play explores the nature of the relationship between crown and parliament and what it means to be a monarch in the 21st century. What a King can do in conflict with what he should do.

Headed by the brilliant Robert Powell in the lead role, with speech reminiscent of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, the cast negotiate the dilemmas posed by this conflict. I thoroughly recommend anyone to see it.

Here is a poem I wrote, influenced by the skilful work of Mike Bartlett…


What’s a king to say,

When lead this way or that way

Left and right,

Wrong or right,

Should he say nothing at all?
What’s a king to do,

When any slight action

Could result in unforeseen reaction,

Should he be bound convention,

Guilded shackles?

Is it safer to do nothing at all?
The crown,

Bejewelled and gold

Is cold,


A trinket, a bauble,

As am I.

So I am a symbol, above the fray,

I must be, after coronation day.

Born in a Calais camp

Fleeing from endless war,

They walk for a thousand miles or more.

To flee horrors that never cease,

They brave stormy seas.

A scared man, his terrified wife and an unborn child.
They walk away,

from a homeland of doom,

Yet border guards tell them

there’s no room

For a scared man, his terrified wife and an unborn child.
So on a cold December night,

Out of mind of out of sight,

In a tent of tarpaulin,

By a candles faint light,

They took shelter,

As her time was near,

A scared man, his terrified wife and their unborn child.
What life can they have when nothing they own,

A long way from home,

To them no gifts of compassion, mercy shown,

To this scared man, his terrified wife and his newborn child.

Short story – To War or not to war

Those green benches the scene of many a fierce debate in the hallowed house, was now the scene of another contest titanic struggle on thorny issue. The issue was war. To go to war or not to go to war, that was the question.
The PM was the first to rise to the dispatch box.

“I’m sure many of you have been shocked and sickened by the horrific images of slaughter and carnage that we see in our TV screens. I’m sure many of you were also shocked by the barbarity of the attacks that were carried out without mercy. This nefarious group who I will categorically refuse to dignify in this house with their name have made no secret their murderous aims and left unchecked they could unleash their madness upon our shores. 

Surely now the time for debate is over,

Surely now the time has come for action.

Surely now is the time to strike.

Mr speaker, I put the proposal before the house of military action, of striking at the heart of this implacable enemy, to degrade and destroy and wipe out this poisonous plague that poses a threat to our security, our very way of life.”

He sat down to the raucous sound of wall that surrounded him from the benches behind him acclaiming their support.

The leader of the opposition straightened his tie as he stood and walked to the dispatch box.

‘Mr speaker, my honourable friend speaks eloquently in this chamber in favour of military action and yes I was similarly shocked and sickened by the barbaric attacks perpetrated by that heinous group but as a responsible leader of the opposition, my job is to examine the prime minister’s plans. What I have heard and what I have read raises many questions.
First of all, what form of intervention does the right honourable gentleman propose we take? After the end of long protracted conflicts that still live fresh in the memory, do we have a serious appetite to once again commit our brave men and women into another potentially long and dangerous theatre. So if boots on the ground is off the table, is it an air campaign the right honourable member proposes? An air campaign to strike at an enemy known to hide amongst a civilian population would have a horrendous cost in life. If we survived the Blitz with stoic defiance, then surely can’t our foes? Blanket bombing is similarly barbaric and in a war without uniforms, there can truly be no precise strikes.

Also what kind of country do we leave behind us? Our past interventions have been deficient in planning for a post conflict world. Toppled dictators left a vacuum often filled by even more odious characters. Do we have a plan for peace, a plan to create a just society from the ashes we rain down? Will all the Queen’s planes and all the queen’s men truly put the country together again?’

The last remark prompted hear hears from back benchers on his side.
The leader closed his speech without any notes, throwing the paper to one side.

“Tonight each of you on both sides of the house must vote with your conscience. In a world where heinous acts are committed seemingly without conscience, we must not neglect ours. We must not, blinded by anger, run headlong into a dangerous situation without a proper plan of how we similarly exit after the guns fall silent. Our security depends not only on our action but the manner of our action and the consequences of said action. Let that be on our consciences also.”
They rose from those green leather benches and walked towards the voting lobby. Their 650 votes the difference between war and peace, life and death. A hell of a thing to weigh on the conscience.

The hustings – a short story

‘Welcome to a packed town hall in Birmingham for what promises to be a titanic battle between these 4 candidates who seek to be leader of the opposition and possibly the future resident of number 10,’ the new political editor said as she eagerly introduced her first big political event. 
‘Lets introduce the candidates. Candidates, you have a time limit of 45 seconds to introduce yourselves to our audience.’
‘My name is candidate A and I seek to become your prime minister. In these tough times for all hard working families, we need to create robust growth in our economy by promoting more green shoots. We mustn’t be afraid of telling hard truths, and the truth is we can’t just oppose. We need to change our party to change our nation into an aspiration nation. We need to bring back aspiration to our nation. I believe I can bring this aspiration.’
‘Hello and thank you for watching, I’m candidate B and I aspire to work hard to improve the lives of all those hard working families across the country. I grew up in a hard working household and I know that hard work should pay off. I aspire to bring back aspiration.’
‘Good evening, I’m Candidate c . I say that it’s not enough to aspire while I was a minister the last time we were in government I opened sure start centres that work hard to support hard working families. We need aspiration of action not just to talk about aspiration.’
‘I’m Candidate d . This unprecedented financial crash has changed the rules of the game. I seek aspiration for all not just the privileged few. I also want to work hard to oppose these loathsome policies and represent those working hard for their families. Austerity isn’t just an abstract concept and neither will aspiration be. ‘

The crowd applauded, the kind of applause that seemed to convey a mentality of ‘ I better clap or else it would look very impolite.’
Caroline from Kent asked the first question. ‘What would you consider to be your priorities?’

Candidate A’s eyes lit up as she responded. ‘My priority is aspiration. I seek to create a society where all hard working families can aspire to live a better life. Though we also face some hard truths and we need todo whatever it takes to aspire to grow those green shoots of our economy.’
Candidate B fluttered his eye lashes as he pondered his response. ‘I agree with candidate A as I too aspire to bring back aspiration. As you all know (yes we do know I thought), I grew up in a hard working household and I aspire to make this country work hard for the hardworking. I also agree somewhat about the hard truths…..’
Sorry to interrupt,’ candidate D said in a loud voice, ‘ but candidate B, didn’t you state the other day that you agree with me that you would seek to oppose harsh policies of the government and oppose austerity?’
‘Yes I did but I also agree with candidate A too, this is my aspirational vision.’ Candidate B responded, seemingly oblivious to the contradiction in his soundbite response.

Candidate C spoke in a calm but dispassionate manner. ‘My priority is to begin the work I started when I was a minister which included sure start, and other measures to help (you guessed it) hard working families. I call this aspirating to act.’
Candidate D added in his loud voice, ‘I seek to reopen the mines as I feel this is a great way to aspire to create a fairer society. I aspire to work hard for those families who work hard….’
It carried on in this vein after many questions asked. I switched off. Not one question answered. I wanted to be inspired, but I was just tired of the same vacuous slogans of aspiration and hard working families. Tired of keyboard warriors for each candidate ripping lumps out of each other.

As I watched the show unfold, I was reminded of the end of George Orwell’s Animal farm. I looked from candidate A to D, from D to A, but already it was impossible to say which was which. 


New poem ‘Srebrenica’ on the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

is a tale we tell,
Of the depths to which Europe fell.

where neighbours once lived side by side,
Committed bloody genocide.

Slaughter in a ‘safe place’
A mark of blood and disgrace.

Remains a fork in the road.
Do we have the courage to tolerate
to ensure it