Daily Express, Saturday, October 3, 1903

Poem 04

(Attribution uncertain)



Now the Parrot, quite unbending,
Has a meeting been attending,
Sitting on a Sheffield platform 1
With some others of his corps.
And he planned to win successes,
Interrupting the addresses
By the squawk he loves to utter,
That “Your food will cost you more.”

He applauded Winston, 2 Cecil, 3
Also Gorst, 4 an ancient vessel 5
Full of wrath at Joe, whose projects
He did mournfully deplore.
But the bird grew sickly yellow
For he found no other fellow
Save this little lot, to echo
That “Your food will cost you more.”

As they cheered for “Joe,” the strong man,
“Joe,” “the won’t-be-very-long” man,
Thought the bird “This demonstration
Is becoming quite a bore.
I will write the ‘Mail’ a letter,
As its columns are far better
For the airing of my reasons
Why ‘Your food will cost you more.’ ”



This refers to a meeting at the annual conference of Conservative Associations in Sheffield on 1 October 1903. The main feature of the meeting was a speech by the Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour. The Daily Express reported that every mention of Chamberlain’s name was greeted by a tumult of applause.


Winston Spencer Churchill (1874–1965) was an outspoken critic of Chamberlain’s proposals for tariff reform and in 1904 this led him to leave the Conservative Party and join the Liberals; he rejoined the Conservatives some 20 years later.


Lord Hugh Cecil (1869–1956) was the youngest child of the Marquess of Salisbury (Prime Minister from 1895 until July 1902) and a first cousin of Salisbury’s successor, Arthur Balfour. Despite this relationship, Cecil was a vocal opponent of Balfour.


Sir John Eldon Gorst (1835–1916) was a long-serving Conservative member of parliament. Another free trader, he also left the Conservative party and contested the 1906 general election on a Free Trade platform, coming third, behind two official Conservative candidates.


Gorst was 68 years old at the date of the meeting. Joseph Chamberlain was just 13 months his junior.