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'.

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.’


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


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally

Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces

Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'

Confronting Brexit
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond

On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network

Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter

#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement

Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.

Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill


9