Readers following the Mark Clarke scandal will remember Paul Abbott, the former Grant Shapps chief-of-staff who says he sent that dynamite memo to Lord Feldman in 2014. Well, it turns out Abbott is something of a poet. Indeed, according to Tower Poetry, he “has been writing poetry seriously for some time”, offering some fascinating insights into life as a Tory aide. The Bard of Matthew Parker Street confesses all in rhyming couplets…
In Resignation of a Junior Minister, Abbott talks about wiping his emails:
Brown, pointless waves were arguing with the mud
At Westminster Quay where the Thames’ tide reaches.
Public life! Proud titles! Ingratitude!
The New Year’s Honours. The failed marriages.
No one remembers quite what was said.
British politics is not about speeches.
Lord, let me go quietly, for I have seen
Through the small affairs of my committee.
The uncaring Government machine
Has other Junior Ministers on duty.
Wipe my emails. Empty out my bin.
Let me be a light to lighten this City.
Two Days before the Scottish Independence Referendum recounts a private meeting in Downing Street where aides discuss “threats” and “knifing Labour“:
Arguments break out in Downing Street.
Some say, Don’t think about defeat.
Others want scare tactics, threats, common cause…
(The art of survival in politics
Is knowing which people to ignore.)
An English Parliament? One of the Whips
Abruptly slaps this down: No, that’s just more
Politicians, paid for by more borrowing.
How can we knife Labour then? Someone kicks
Off, interrupted. And behind the arguing
No10 is now an irrelevance
On the fringe of some foreign cataclysm.
While Victory 7 May 2015 offers a candid admission of a life of spin:
Surfacing (as one does occasionally)
Imagine my surprise
To be a decade older. 10 years, gone.
Forget about it, some say drunkenly,
As if a gin-soaked, general amnesia
Were better than confessing to the long
Catalogue of lies,
Bluffs, and half-truths cluttering your career:
It’s not all bad! You have your reputation!
Back in St. Stephen’s Tavern,
A landlord wipes vomit off cracked tiles.
Half the unhappy skyscrapers of London
Loom their magnificence over the dark water.
Night buses crawl homewards through the miles.
And now what happened to happen
Is just a distance, dulled into a blur.
You can read the whole collection of poetry Abbott has been working on for the last seven years here. Not many former Tory aides are honest enough to ‘fess up to a career of booze-fuelled porkies!