Millbank for HR

This is Millbank for HR, by our favourite furious poet Niall McDevitt. It’s for anyone whose heart leapt with joy at the sight of students smashing into Millbank/Mordor and wreaking creative destruction inside; it’s probably not for Telegraph readers…

Millbank for HR by Niall McDevitt

“No one in their right mind could claim that the violence of students in London today is justified” – The Telegraph.


It’s challenging to think the most politically joyous day

I remember

—and the most ecstatic news bulletin I’d  turned on  in years—

was that  of the young marchers ransacking Millbank

in the late autumn of 2010. This, I felt, was sedition… At last!

No, not drawing a brilliant cartoon of some Tory basilisk,

or writing an iconic protest song, or devising a modern dance,

or even finding the just words for a literary satire

to  call forth  Puppet Ubu from his shit-caked lair again

but an action that transcended the artistic, the aesthetic,

a replay of Bastille. That I laughed and  cheered on 10/11/10

so fulsomely, so earnestly,  drunk on nothing but the facts,

sending messages to the round earth’s PC-screened corners,

later made me ask myself if something was amiss.

Perhaps I—or many of us—had been warped by the control-machine

of Conservatism, and  made incapable of finer feelings?



To hear the young had smashed  into the Tory forcefield

—think of the name Millbank, the very  concept of Millbank:

a  fusion of  Blake’s  satanic mills  with the banking system—

seemed like an orgiastic victory.  They’d struck a blow,

ferocious cherubs with Asian bows-and-arrows,

not by throwing eggs at individuals or fire extinguishers at no one

but by attacking the furry, malodorous Ubu of an institution,

punishing an office ceremonially, humiliating a party HQ,

one that corrodes the morals of those who work in it

with  powergames and endgames

‘forever and ever amen’,

by assaulting  Tory architecture in black hoods and leopardskins

along the chameleon smile of the Thames.



The students shocked everyone out of their automatism

that day. Authority was rug-pulled. That night: masterless revels

in an upside-down realm, with a cavalcade of royals and retainers

looking a thousand years old in slow-rolling contraptions,

and a palpable mass joy not felt in years. London throbbed

with frisson, and the vibration of the island was raised.

Those hecklers who cavilled of ‘self-interested students’

had missed the point that—while the sad majority

have become inured to suffering Tory-dealt attritions

retaliating at best with cartoons, songs, dances, poems

or, at worst, buying shares in loss leader alcohols—

a new generation had stood upto Goliath and hurled

the full force of its slingshot, right at his walnut brains.

Images of the spider-webbing glass, the  spray-painted As

and youths kicking and chanting at yellow phalanxes

of Met baboons, seemed to my bruised and  fragile psyche

a vision of the coming Eros and redemption



(even if there’s something wrong with me for thinking it

or something wrong with you for reading this)


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