Friday 28 November 2014

May and Baker – A Tale of Drugs and Crime at Bonfire Time

The following poem was read to Norman Baker at the annual Lewes Liberal Democrat dinner on Nov 26th 2014. Notes at the end will help with appreciation of the poem's finer points.

May and Baker – A Tale of Drugs and Crime at Bonfire Time

In olden days did May & Baker
help the needy sick to take a
draught to treat that desperate fear:
Bismuth Salt for diarrhoea!

Chloroform & Anaesthetic,
Calomel (a diuretic),
drugs for all by M & B,
made in perfect harmony.

But now - a sorry tale to tell-
'twixt M & B all is not well.
Drugs became the source of friction
as Baker tried to cure addiction,

While all the time Theresa May
was locking troubled folk away.
But Baker said "the Portuguese
have come across this triffic wheeze:

Prison sentences are found
to cycle users round and round".
Baker said "by doing time
they learn about a life of crime."

With splutt’ring May now turning red
our Norman raised his voice and said
“Addiction can be cured the best
by going through the NHS (t)*”

He said “the scientific proof
is irrefutable, you goof.”
“We don’t want reason here,” said May,
“We’d rather throw the keys away.”

“What Nonsense,” Norman B replied,
“You have to see the other side.
The way to rid men of this vice
is through Restorative Justice.”

In Whitehall May ranked over Norm
and sticking to her previous form
she wouldn’t budge, so Norman B
waved his farewell to Ministry.

A perfect pair these two are not.
Theresa doesn’t know how hot
revenge will be. –The Final Story?
Norm’s a match for any Tory.

*the ‘t’ is silent as in cup.


The moral of the story’s clear
don’t give Theresa May your ear
before you go to meet your maker
Get out the vote for Norman Baker.

Presented to Norman Baker at the Lewes Liberal Democrats Annual Dinner November 2014 by the members of the Executive Committee of Lewes Constituency Liberal Democrats. Poem, if such it is, by Harvey Linehan and Peter Gardiner.


  • Norman Baker is MP for Lewes where bonfires attended by 40,000 or more happen every November 5th. Nov 5th celebrates the failure of an attempt by Guy Fawkes and others to blow up Parliament in 1605, but the Lewes celebrations also memorialise 17 protestants martyred by the Catholic authorities during the Marian persecutions of 1555-57. Nov 5th is a country wide event, but the Lewes celebrations are spectacular.
  • Effigies of topical public figures are burned on Lewes bonfires. These include Osama bin Laden in 2001, and Alec Salmond and Vladimir Putin this year. (Salmond seemed to take it quite well; we don't know what Putin thought.)
  • Norman resigned from the Home Office on Nov 3rd when Theresa May, the Home Secretary, refused to consider a paper setting out alternatives to imprisonment for drug users.
  • 0n 5 November 2014, Adams, the Daily Telegraph's cartoonist, depicted Norman Baker lighting a bonfire on which sat an effigy of Theresa May. A copy of the cartoon was presented to Norman at the dinner.
  • Between 1834 and 1984 a company aptly called May and Baker produced pharmaceutical drugs. This is one of their advertisements.