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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.’
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Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
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Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
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Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism