Does Gordon Brown read this blog – or: would Blake vote Labour?

Prime Minister goes for the poetry (and nursing) vote

I suspect the Prime Minister has been reading this blog. Today he addressed the Royal College of Nursing Conference in Bournemouth. It seems that like William Blake he’s been seeing angels, for he said: ‘We feel like parents who have been in the presence of angels dressed in nurses’ uniforms, performing the most amazing works of mercy and care. And I will never forget seeing in real time every minute of the day that idea of service and selflessness summed up by the great poet William Blake:

Can I not see another’s woe?
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief?
And not seek for kind relief?

‘That is the spirit of nursing,’ he said, to (of course) rousing applause. Only last week this same William Blake was quoted on this very blog. He, being dead, cannot be canvassed (not that that stops politicians, of course). I haven’t checked but I doubt Blake ever had a vote (he died before the 1832 Reform Act, though would probably have been too poor to qualify even then). If he had, would he have supported New Labour? As I noted this morning, the Green Party has already laid claim to Blake’s own words in ‘Jerusalem’ about a ‘green and pleasant land’. Blake was a free spirit, unwilling to bound by the chains of a mainstream party – I suspect he would have sympathised with the Greens but probably fallen out with them after a while.

Next question: who would the following poets have voted for? Give chapter and verse – or at least verse, in support of your answers:

  • Keats
  • Byron
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Shakespeare

Further suggestions welcome!

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