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At the crossroads

I built the best of England With my brain and with my hands. Liberty Equality Fraternity – That’s where I took my stand, And the people called me Old Labour The brave heart of this land I walked out of the smoky streets To enjoy some country air, But when I came to the crossroads, […]

December 1, 2008
3 min read


Adrian Mitchell was Red Pepper's 'shadow poet laureate'.


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I built the best of England

With my brain and with my hands.

Liberty Equality Fraternity –

That’s where I took my stand,

And the people called me Old Labour

The brave heart of this land

I walked out of the smoky streets

To enjoy some country air,

But when I came to the crossroads,

I saw a weird sight there –

A man in a silver business suit

Swivelling in a black leather chair

He jumped right up and shook my hand

and giggled with mysterious glee.

Then he stared and said: ‘Old Labour,

I can tell your destiny.

I’m the Great Political Entrepreneur –

Would you like to do a deal with me?’

Well, the style of his smile and the size of his eyes

Made him look like a shopping mall.

I told him straight: ‘I’m a socialist,

I support fair shares for all.’

He said: ‘Capitalism means fair shares,

Provided that you play ball.’

I said: ‘I can think of something

Capitalism can’t arrange

And that’s the common ownership

Of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

And war makes so much more profit

That the idea of peace is strange.

‘I was born for peace and justice

For every race and nationality

I’m for people, not for profit,

I want to see the children free

With no more than 12 kids in a class

Revelling in liberty.’

‘But let’s not talk about the people,’

The sophisticated stranger said.

‘You must have targets of your own –

Let’s talk about you instead.’

And my brain was enthralled by his silver voice

Though my heart was filled with dread.

‘I know you have a heart,’ said the shining voice

‘And I know you have an excellent mind.

Why not become an Entrepreneur –

Leave those people of yours behind?

You shall live in mansions and grand hotels

And be constantly wined and dined.

‘You shall have your own island and bodyguard

And your own show on TV,

And a heated pool and a gymnasium

And become a powerful Celebrity.’

‘I think I could fancy that,’ I said,

‘But what’s the cost going to be?’

Well, I knew. But I signed – in my own life-blood.

He extracted my soul with care

and placed it in his credit card case

And gave me his black leather chair

Then he laughed and said: ‘You are New Labour now.’

I said: ‘Thank you, Mr Blair.’

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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Adrian Mitchell was Red Pepper's 'shadow poet laureate'.


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