‘British Work for British Hands’

Seeing this Conservative candiddate’s advert in a 1910 issue of the East London Advertiser, it struck me that the ‘British jobs for British workers’ slogan of a couple of years ago was neither new nor left-wing.

‘British work for British hands’
Not for scum from foreign lands
Tory slogan, nineteen ten,
How much has really changed since then?

Count the profits, cut the losses
Blame the Jews and not the bosses
Double blame, not just a Jew – He’s from Eastern Europe too!
Fled poverty and persecution

Found his share in destitution
A century on and Labour’s Brown –
Seeing poll rates slipping down –
Revives the ancient Tory cry
To raise the blue-ish standard high
“British jobs for British workers”
Not those idle foreign shirkers

A few years on it’s small surprise
That millions flock to UKIP’s lies
Cos times are tough and who’s to blame?
The Eastern Europeans again!

If you move to earn a crust
Or if conditions mean you must
Or if you want to try your hand
At earning in another land
— Then why not?

Migrants aren’t the problem here
It’s austerity and rule by fear
Turning folk against each other
Pay my sister less than my brother

The answer’s not to send them back
But pay us all a decent whack
Raise your flags, set out your stall
For higher wages, jobs for all

British work for British hands?
Divide and rule, one understands
Leave this slogan to the right
Workers of the world – unite!

This poem was published in the Summer 2014 issue of Hull magazine Tenfootcity.

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