When the last leftist antisemite has left the stage…

A poem by Michael Rosen

If the polls are right…

If the polls are right
and the Tories win
and the last leftist antisemite
the last alleged leftist antisemite
and the last friend of the last alleged leftist antisemite
has been removed from the public stage
there should be no antisemitism left
to worry about.
Is that right?

In power will be Boris Johnson
closely working with Dominic Cummings
who talks of  ‘the likes of Goldman Sachs
writing cheques for Remain’
with ‘fingers in every pie’
in the ‘cess pit’ of the EU
splashing cash around for their own benefit;
Dominic Cummings
who tells us how Brexit will free Britain
from this corruption.

The ‘likes of Goldman Sachs’, he says?
The ‘likes of’?
Whatever could that mean?

Circling around will be
Jacob Rees-Mogg
with his gags about his Jewish colleague
Oliver Letwin being one of the ‘illuminati’,
his concerns that Europe is dominated by
Soros – the much-loved antisemitic trope of his
east European antisemitic friends,
his retweet of a tweet from the
far-right Alternativ für Deutschland
his dining with the Traditional Britain Group.

Suella Braverman who used the alt-right
antisemitic jibe about ‘cultural marxists’.

Or Toby Young, educationalist, and
projecting on to Philip Hammond
his thought
that the word ‘banker’ means ‘Jewish.

This is how the Right racialises banking
and racialises a criticism of banking.

But the Right has no problem with banking.
They hi-jack our fears of what happens
when banks crash
and hitch them to who they think
is the wrong sort of banker.
The problem for them seems to be if it’s
Jews doing the banking.

They seem to think that Jews get in the way
of some kind of national economy
that they want to create.
An economy that is no better for the mass of people
than the one they claim is so bad.

And this
we shouldn’t worry about?
This has no echoes from the past
from people who came to power
claiming that it was the internationalism
of Jewish finance that had brought
their country to its knees?

But when the last leftist antisemite
the last alleged leftist antisemite
and the last friend of the last alleged leftist antisemite
has been cleared away

there will be no more antisemitism to worry about?
Is that it?

And if by chance the eyewatering amounts of
debt left over from the last crisis
and the eyewatering amounts of debt
that we have as we buy the stuff we
can’t buy with our depressed incomes
leads to another bankers’ crash

we won’t see Johnson, Cummings, Rees-Mogg
and others
telling us that the problem is
say, the ‘likes of Goldman Sachs’
the ‘illuminati,’
or the corrupt influence
of ‘cultural marxists’?
Is that it?

Antisemitism will have left the stage
will it?

But then let’s ask what forces might they want to unleash
to create their corruption-free
national economy?

Who will they tell us are in their way?

Comments (22)

  • Michael Westcombe says:

    Absolutely Brilliant. An Epic Ode! You have outdone everything. Love & hugs, Michael.

  • Terry Clarke says:

    Greed for natural resources needs ultimately to steal the land. And to steal the land it needs an Excuse. And to provide an excuse it needs an Enemy. In peaceful times it has to create one.

    Once upon a time it was the Jews
    Once upon a time it was the Christians
    Once upon a time it was the Protestants
    Once upon a time it was the Welsh
    Once upon a time it was the Scots
    Once upon a time it was the Irish
    Once upon a time it was the Catholics
    Once upon a time it was the Caribs
    Once upon a time it was the Incas
    Once upon a time it was the Native Americans
    Once upon a time it was the Africans
    Once upon a time it was the Aborigines
    Once upon a time it was the Maoris
    Once upon a time it was Turks
    Once upon a time it was the Germans
    Once upon a time it was the Russians

    Now it’s the Muslims
    Now it’s the Palestinians
    Now it’s the Immigrants
    Now it’s the Poor
    Now it’s the Working Class/Under Class
    Now it’s the TRUE Socialists
    Now it’s the Antiracists
    Now it’s the Peacemakers

    Next it’s…the critics of the Government/Dictatorship/State/Establishment!

  • Daniel Vulliamy says:


  • John C says:

    This is a very powerful poem. We are lucky to have such a poet among us.

  • Hilary De Santos says:

    Thank you, Michael, for expressing so well how I’m feeling. Today I’m trying to recover from an assault on JVL on the ‘comedy’ panel show ‘Have I got news for you’, with a ‘joke’ which quoted a Jewish member who doesn’t experience antisemitism in the Labour Party to ‘Tweet that and await the response’ (audience laughter). Then an assault on my sense of fair play in ‘Profile’ describing the Chief Rabbi as having a sense of fun and a love of football, of having cared about black South Africans during apartheid, and having a mission to save the Jewish People. Therefore? The stage is indeed crowded, there’s no space for the voices of the ‘wrong kind of Jew’.

  • Sharon Morgan says:

    You’re my hero, Michael!

  • Jim McNeill says:

    When the last poet has left the stage
    When the last writer of children’s stories has left the stage
    When the last gentle, face-pulling video-storyteller has left the stage
    When the last twitterer of any consequence has left the stage
    When the last thought provoker has left the stage
    Only then will we notice
    The space

  • Stickgalsick says:


  • TM says:

    Thank you Michael Rosen. Such food for thought in your poem. So much touching on all our thoughts over the past few years and touching on our present fears.

  • Ruth Sharratt says:

    Thank you Michael Rosen – a timely reminder

  • Mary Davies says:

    I love Michael Rosen and his poetry.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    Another poem by Michael Rosen.

    By Michael Rosen

    A family arrived and said they had papers
    To prove that his house was theirs.
    — No, no, said the man, my people have always lived here,
    My father, grandfather …. and look the garden,
    My great-grandfather planted that.
    — No, no, said the family, look at the documents.
    There was a stack of them.
    — Where do I start? said the man.
    — No need to read the beginning, they said,
    Turn to the page marked ‘Promised Land’.
    — Are they legal? he said, who wrote them?
    — God, they said, God wrote them, look,
    Here come His tanks.

  • Elizabeth Dresner says:

    Thank you Michael Rosen! Very powerful and very true.

  • Richard Kuper says:

    Also by Michael Rosen

    Fascism: I sometimes fear…

    I sometimes fear that
    people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
    worn by grotesques and monsters
    as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

    Fascism arrives as your friend.
    It will restore your honour,
    make you feel proud,
    protect your house,
    give you a job,
    clean up the neighbourhood,
    remind you of how great you once were,
    clear out the venal and the corrupt,
    remove anything you feel is unlike you…

    It doesn’t walk in saying,
    “Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”

  • Marion Creighton says:

    Thank you Michael.

  • Richard Hayward says:

    “an assault on JVL on the ‘comedy’ panel show ‘Have I got news for you’, with a ‘joke’ ”

    I was interested in that observation (which I didn’t see myself)

    One of the noticeable feature currently is the underlying solidarity of the wider establishment in creating a taken-for-granted narrative that defies all evidence.

    Thus, ‘Private Eye’ (despite a record of genuine investigation in other areas) has abandoned any attempt at the critical scrutiny of ‘antisemitism’as much as any of the overtly right-wing press. Instead, the (largely) public school boys’ club piles in with more of the same. Forget satire, even if the Chief Rabbi and Archbish are prime candidates for it!

  • Philip Ward says:

    In reply to Hilary de Santos: I can’t bear to watch many of these so-called comedy shows now. Most of the participants don’t seem to understand the difference between satire and cynicism and too often punch down rather than up. The incident you recount is a good example of that. And we know what the tweets this JVL member receives will be like: they are most likely to be from people who back this witch-hunt in the labour party, and calling them “kapo”, ” self-hater” or worse.

    Who was it who made this “joke”? People who appear on these programmes are in a position of privilege to get their views broadcast, so they should be asked to justify or account for them. Perhaps JVL should approach them to do so. After all they are insulting and abusing an ordinary member of the public who has no such platform.

  • Dilys Hadley says:

    That’s very powerful, and makes your point exactly as it should. Don’t worry. None of us are leaving., we’re not down and out yet. Shoulder to shoulder always and forever. Just hoping for that one day when it won’t be necessary and we can get on and enjoy being members of the human race.

  • Tessa Gray says:

    Frightening, true and beautifully written.

  • Mark Francis says:

    The Rudyard Kipling of the left

  • Ruth Knox says:

    This is so good and so welcome. Thank you Michael

  • Leslie Dawes says:

    Thank you Michael for your poem. Food for thought.

Comments are now closed.