A Lift to the Food Bank From Iain Duncan Smith

I got a lift to the food bank from Iain Duncan Smith
Driving a vintage British sports car
A Morgan Plus Four powered by a German engine
Goes from nought to Brexit in under sixty seconds
“I say” he said to me “Fine day for a spin”
“Isn’t the food bank just a wonderful thing”
“And now there’s even more of them than ever”

He had the radio tuned to LBC
A phone-in about prices
And the cost-of-living crisis
He said “We’ll have to suck it up, I’m afraid”
“It’s not our fault there’s a war in Ukraine”
“And I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a price worth paying.”
As we passed the war memorial
And poppies on the road signs
I tried to say that his opinion probably wasn’t mine
But with the top down he missed what I was saying

I got a lift to the foodbank from Iain Duncan Smith
Driving a vintage British sports car
With a manual gearbox (sovereignty over transmission)
And an active exhaust in full hot air position
So how come he happened to be going my way?
Well, that’s where you’ll find all his constituents these days

Back in the Day

Back in the day, there were no foodbanks
And no such thing as a mobile phone
You had to walk to find a phone box
If you needed to make a call home
They had rotary dials, could be left off the hook
And if you couldn’t remember the number
You had to look it up in the book

Back in the day, there were no foodbanks
And you recorded the telly on VHS
You mum went shopping in BHS
(She still could, I guess)
Woolworths and C&A
And you took pictures on photographic film
That had to be sent away

Back in the day, there were no food banks
We had the cold war, miners strikes, and Reaganomics
Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning
And a load of other old racist comics
Who smelled of Old Spice, Denim and Brut
We had endless summertime Seaside Special
And James Galway on the flute

Back in the day, there were no food banks
And pubs still had a cigarette machine
The nit nurse used to come to the school
And we all needed to have a TB vaccine
Which was better than getting the cane
Which, if you were enough trouble,
Could happen again and again and again

Back in the day, there were no food banks
And prawn cocktail was haute cuisine
With black forest gateau for pudding
But only If your main course plate was clean
And there was only one Chinese takeaway
Who’d put your dinner in a minicab
So long as you promised to pay

Back in the day there were no food banks
And everyone remembered the war
You used different key to start the car
From the one that opened the door
You never knew what would go wrong next
And if you needed to transfer money
You had to do it by writing cheques

Back in the day, there were no food banks

The Replacement of Rights with Gifts (And How to Put It in Reverse)

The Trussell Trust opened their first food bank in the UK in Salisbury in 2000, by 2004 there were two. Today, after nearly a decade of austerity, there are thousands [1], and their use, as difficult, demoralising, humiliating as it is for some, has become normal. The role of the state to protect the food security of its people has been abrogated in favour of the kindness of strangers, the rise of food banks applauded in some circles as growth in the power of community organising and on the right as demonstration of the success of a small state, Blair’s third sector, Cameron’s big society. [2]

Worse: in-work poverty. The number of people qualifying for the support of food banks who actually have jobs but are paid so poorly, often by super-rich multi-national corporations, that they’re forced to rely on charity for food, toiletries, sanitary products. You might as well pay for your basket of shopping at the checkout then put it all straight back on the shelves. This is life at the coalface of capitalism, this year’s ragged-trousered philanthropists work in call centres and supermarkets.


We Shall Overcome, now in it’s fifth year, offers a raised fist and a helping hand, and the helping hand, directed by local organisers, artists and promoters has often been held out to food banks, a direct interface with some of those hardest hit by austerity.

As for the raised fist: now’s the time. We stand on the threshold of major change if Labour are successful in next month’s general election. Joe Solo and Grace Petrie are hitting the road supporting CLPs, the Protest Family still slip from venue to picket line to fundraiser. While others pontificate about polls and parliamentary arithmetic, WSO activists are focussing their energy on the real possibility of a better world. Sociologist Janet Poppendieck warned that the institutionalisation of food banks can be difficult to resist and overturn. [3] We have a chance to prove her wrong, to consign Food Bank Britain to the dustbin of history.

WSO What's Cookin' 2019

Whether our next WSO gig, on 14th December, turns out to be a celebration or a show of solidarity in the face of future uncertainty is yet to be seen. What’s clear is the helping hand will still be required, so please, fill the venue, fill the bucket, fill your soul with music and common purpose, it promises to be something of an occasion whatever happens.




2. In 2017, Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC that he found the rise in food bank use as “rather uplifting”


Lies, damned lies, and statistics


Here are some statistics from our local food bank, Eat or Heat, a non-political organisation keeping people alive in our small but perfectly formed piece of east London. And what they say is this: from Stellaville to Iain Duncan-Smith Land, compared to this time last year, there has been a huge increase in the number of people needing to use their food bank, referred in many cases by government agencies; agencies of a government that exists to ensure their safety and security but fails miserably to do so.

While pantomime Tories preen and keynote screech about investment and opportunity and demand double spaces after full stops, people are dying; the phenomenon of in-work poverty is disregarded.

These statistics don’t tell lies, the new man in No. 10 does.

Yes, we know loads of songs about this, and yes this is why we are so heavily invested in We Shall Overcome, but some days we are just plain angry.