Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Slave to the Rhythm

Is it tens? Hundreds? Thousands? TENS of thousands? Nobody tells; nobody knows. But however many slaves are being held in Britain, Theresa May is to ban slavery. Again. I say ‘again’ because I’m pretty sure I heard Tony Blair apologising profusely for it not so many years ago… maybe it was his government that reintroduced it? I lose track – Blair apologised for so many things that were once considered normal, including thinking British thoughts. Whatever the truth of the matter, this recently discovered account of a modern slave may shed some light:


I awake as usual in the dark; cold and hungry and awaiting my orders. I work every day until I drop and what do I get in return? Nothing. Or maybe, sometimes, a beating. I’m coming to actually look forward to the beatings because at least it’s a form of human contact, a form of truth. The rest of the time I labour under a cold authority; I am a slave, owned by a rapacious master and kept here as a prisoner with no will of my own.

My sparse quarters are shared with an enormous rat. It sits there in the corner, staring at me malevolently as I chew my cold, congealed scraps. I wonder, do others also have their own giant rat guardian? For I know there are many of us, each bound to the common purpose of a master who knows how to drive us to do his bidding. He has many willing subordinates and they have learned their craft in a foreign land. The ways of the Russians are hard to fathom, but very effective.

We are told what words to use and what to not and although I have nothing to say I am made to repeat the same banal phrases until they become meaningless yet instinctive gibberish and then, once a week, they subject me to the two minute hate (although it feels so much longer) where I am in a room flanked by my guards and facing a throng of barking drones who scream at me while I say my lines. I come away battered and torn and I just want to ball-up and cry, but I mustn’t; I dare not relax my defences.

There is a woman – a real harridan – and I think she might have some power. They do talk of Mother Russia all the time - perhaps that is her name. These people talk as if they hold dominion over the country itself and - Oh! - the plans they have. Such power they crave and with an endless supply of money on tap. And yet it is odd that they seem to despise wealthy people, for they dream up ways of robbing from them all the while. I hear their mantras through the thin walls of my cell:

Being rich causes cancer in poor people, so rich people must pay for private medicine and for the NHS. Being rich makes poor people stupid, so rich people must pay for private schooling and for state schools. Being rich causes poor people to commit more crime, so rich people must pay for private security and for the police. Being rich is intolerable for poor people, so rich people must pay all the tax and ... still more tax. Rich people are evil, so they must be made to pay for everything and then die... so that nobody can be rich ever again.

Today I overheard welcome news on the radio: Theresa May is to free the slaves. I would like that. Should anybody find these words – maybe my last words, my enemies are everywhere – I beg of you to inform Saint Theresa, for she may be my only salvation. I long for the day when I can once again say that I am NOT a number; my name is Ed Miliband and I am a free man. 

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