Ministry of No-collar Crimes

Written in 2016 at HMP Highpoint, I dug this poem up today because of a Twitter conversation about taxation and its avoidance. It’s still fairly amusing to discover that some people claim to dislike tax avoidance although they don’t mind offsetting their mortgage interest against their earnings. What really prompted this resurrection, however, is the government announcing with glee the creation of 10000 new prison places. I would have been delighted had the annoiuncement been coupled with a stated desire to reduce overcrowding in our existing rat-infested, dilapidated, putrid prison estate. But no! This expansion is to accommodate the post-election surge in crime which the government has yet to create. Not satisfied with incarcerating the poor buggers who can’t pay council taxes or are a nuisance because they are homeless, we are now going to put more people away for longer just to prove we are “tough on crime”. Let me finish by emphasizing that the way to deter criminals is to convince them that they will be caught, not the manner by which they will be punished!

Ministry of No-collar Crimes


Amongst grey-grim buildings, in a non-descript town

In some dingy room, behind a bureaucrat’s frown

Exists a mind that invests its time

Creating the latest no-collar crime


Justice conflated with a desire for revenge

Morality worthy of a priest at Stonehenge

Conspiring with others, the known or unknown

The seeds of illegality, by him, are sown


He sees most private wealth as criminal proceeds

And any feeling of fairness finally recedes

Into the depths of democracy’s dreary demise

Confiscation of assets his ultimate prize


A dismal dystopia discovered

Where irrational ideas are recovered

Enough of them placed in his wailing wall

To ensure criminality concerns us all


Even the desire to pay less tax

Is subject to feverish, frontal attacks

Those purely pursuing a personal gain

Are treated by him as criminally insane


As is the desire in life to succeed

For him, a sign of excessive greed

As the average person, just seeking to achieve

Demonstrates a dubious desire to deceive


But there are exceptions to the rule

Some celebrities make this sad man drool

For these untouchables in the electorate’s mind

Must be treated as if of a different kind


Accusations against them, unless just salacious

Must be dealt with in a manner greatly more gracious

Their earnings are by the people accepted

Celebrity makes their talents respected


To some they play a model role

Even for those who are on the dole

Just as gamblers assume they will always win

So, aspiring to celebrity can be no sin


But pity those other poor unsung heroes

Whose taxes are reduced to a string of zeros

Though they pay no tax, they cannot be accused

Of having their magnificent system abused


And where are those white collars of yesteryear?

Thrown into the waste-bin of abject fear

No need for neckties in this brave new world

As, by our desks, our nation’s flag is unfurled


Down with those unpatriotic suits

Off with those old-fashioned Chelsea boots

We can no longer dress as it would us please

We have to dress down, trousers round our knees


Let’s avoid being labelled as ‘suits’ or white collars’

Such that people might think we make millions of dollars

Lest the man in that dingy, dystopian room

Finds a way to send us all to our doom