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International Socialism, Autumn 1962


Bobby Campbell

Songs With Teeth


From International Socialism, No.10, Autumn 1962, pp.15-20.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Bobby Campbell is 20. Glasgow born and bred, he started work as an apprentice fitter in a Clydeside shipyard four years ago. Starting with skiffle, he was drawn towards folk music in general and thence towards socialism, A member of the Woodside Young Socialists, he also runs a Folksong Workshop in Glasgow.

There has been a great revival in folk song writing and singing in recent years. Partly it reflects the cultural resurgence associated with Sillitoe, Wesker and Osborne amongst others; partly the decline of commercialized skiffle; but most of all it has been nourished by the anti-Bomb movement.

The songs written in the early days of the Labour Movement were of the pedantic mass song type of which only The Red Flag and The International have been saved from obscurity. During the first half of this century labour songs of a satirical nature or otherwise were few and even these were soon forgotten.

In the early ’fifties, while the writing of political songs was still in the hands of a few people on the Left the genre began to catch on. The most notable examples were those written in Scotland after the removal of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey and the Coronation of the present Queen. Some 70 to 80 songs written during this period and, although heavily biased towards Scottish Nationalism, were nevertheless extremely clever in their use of the folk idiom besides being a valid denunciation of Royalty and the Establishment.

The last few years of the decade and the entry into the ’sixties saw a fantastic amount of activity in several fields, directly and indirectly political. The first and most significant was an acceleration of growth in CND and in unilateralist feeling within the Labour Party. This was followed by the formation of the Young Socialists whose considerable Left wing was unilateralist. Added to this was the ever growing interest shown in folk music by the youth of the country. It was quite astonishing that such a general upheaval could take place in so short a time.

Those involved in the singing and writing of song in the folk idiom became more keenly aware of the political struggles going on around them and the same process happened in reverse – the politically aware became more conscious of folk song and its potential as a political weapon. The theme of many of the current songs are anti-nuclear. Although many other issues attract the pen of the song-writers these tend to have a limited topical appeal and fade after a while into obscurity. The most notable example of political satirical folk based songs that have been written in the past few years are the anti-Polaris songs coming from Glasgow. These songs use to the fullest degree the music, the spoken idiom and cheeky humour of Glasgow.

The effect of these songs has been quite remarkable in the way they have fused the folk song movement, the Left wing and the non-political anti-Polaris demonstrators into a united body with a common aim.

It must be stressed that the selection of songs which follows is a personal choice made from a wide range of material. We would welcome further examples from our readers.


This song, written around 1960 uses the cartoon name of the present Prime Minister. It covers a wide range of political issues in which he was involved.

Come all you loyal citizens, a story I will tell.
It’s about a local hero – he’s a lad you all know well.
He’s the darling of the nation,and his fearless reputation
Is the envy of the leaders of the world.


Raise a Cheer! Raise a Cheer!
Never Fear! Never Fear!
For the safety of the nation when he’s near
He’s a man of action who is
Known from Wigan Pier to Suez
And whenever there’s confusion he is near.

When Eden bombed that old canal, our hero Mac the Knife
Said ‘I’ll stick by you, Tony... I’ll be your pal for life’.
But the country cried out ‘Sack Him’, and old Mac forgot to back him.
He was busy moving into Number 10.

Old Mac he is a Peacemaker that’s known on every hand.
He went to see the Muscovites who were skulking in their land.
And the tough boys of the Kremlin were a shakin’ and a tremblin’
When they saw the love-light shining in his eyes.

Now Mac he is a worker – he’s never one to shirk,
He loves the working classes, but he hates to see them work.
He said : ‘My blood is boiling at the sight of so much toiling ...’
So he put 200,000 on the dole.

Now Mac he is a spender – he makes the money fly.
He’d have raised the old pensions ... but the cost was far too high.
So he spent it all on Cyprus and upon the Preston by-pass
And on buying Yankee rockets second-hand.

The whole world sings his praises – our handsome wonder-boy.
From Kensington to Kenya they all welcome him with joy.
And the Kings of Asia Minor all regard him as their chiner ...
And they love him just as much as Standard Oil.

Now he’s been re-elected, and the world has gone to pot.
Ike has lost his office, and Welensky’s done his lot.
There’ll be wide-spread lamentations through the democratic nations ...
And the world will never be the same again.

Maggie’s Waddin’

After the wedding of Princess Margaret to Tony Armstrong Jones, a number of songs issued forth which took ‘rather a dim view’ of the whole proceedings. This particular song comes from Glasgow, and is quite brilliant in the use of the idiom.

Sing a sang o’ tax and woe
Empty pooches in a row
The Chancellor’s collectin’ dough,
A’ fur Maggie’s waddin’.

Silk an’ satin, gold lammé,
Tony wears a lum hat tae,
Ma suit’s in the paw sae whit’ll ah dae?
Et the Royal Waddin’.

Maggie flounces down the aisle,
Mither wears a forcit smile.
Needs a dose o’ castor ile,
Et her dochter’s waddin’.

Tony’s doon oan bendit knee
Gied up his photographie,
Nae mair ‘burdies’ will he see
Efter Maggie’s waddin’.

Foreign guests frae near an’ faur,
Pack’d inside Westminster Ha’,
Parasites frae France an’ a’,
Et the Royal waddin!

Whaur d’ye think they’ll honeymoon?
Rome, Paree or on the moon,
Ye can bet yuir life it’s no Dunoon!
Efter sic a Waddin’.!

Noo they’re married aff they blow,
Tae spen a thoosan’ poon ar so,
That’s the way oor money goes,
Fur Mrs. Jones’ waddin !

Back again, ah help ma boab!
Tony hisnae got a job!
Wha will buy the christnen robe?
You an me ah’ll bet ye!

Maggie’s taen up fancy cookin’,
Bird’s Nest soup frae a Chinese book,
An’ Suzie Wong won’t hae a look in,
‘Velly Nicey Wedding’!

Sing a sang o’ tax an’ woe,
Empty pooches in a row,
The Chancellor’s collectin’ dough,
A’ fur Maggie’s waddin’!

(Tune: Marie’s Wedding)

Nato Nato Nato

One of the few songs not written within the folk idiom, it takes a big bite at Gaitskell’s backing of NATO and nuclear strategy and his alligator tears over the lack of Labour Party unity.

Labour Party unity –
That’s the thing for you and me,
All we want is bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

We will follow Mr. G.
From here unto eternity,
If he gives us bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

No more,
Will we have Clause Four,
Instead well base our policy
On buying shares in GEC
Never mind the CLPs
Our leaders do just what they please,
And what they please is bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

We’re quite prepared to vote Tory
In times of great emergency.
For the Tories too want bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

It used to be Stalin Allee
They’ve changed that to Karl Marx Allee.
And we’ll change that with bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

George Brown. Let’s sing to George Brown.
He tells us so emphatically
He’ll carry us to victory.
And when some BROTHERS disagree
They’re trying to wreck the PLP
’Cos the PLP NEEDS bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

So let us all be brave and free
And join our hands across the sea.
Let’s take our stand on bases, bombs and NATO, NATO, NATO.

(Tune: Music, music, music)

You’ve never had it quite so good

Probably the only thing for which the present leader of the Tory Party will be remembered, is his famous, or rather notorious slogan ‘You’ve never had it so good’. The song delivers crushing blows to the man and his despicable slogan. This one comes from Glasgow although it does not use dialect.

The working-class to-day
Is better off in every way.
Taxes only nineteen shillings in the pound.
Unemployment ten per cent
On the bomb we’re all hell bent ...
But old Mac says we should all remain content.


You’ve never had it quite so good
You should thank me, yes, you should.
With your wage freeze, credit squeeze, Congolese ... and what’s more –
You’ve got iodine 131
Falling on you by the ton.
O you’ve never had it quite so good before.

Once Britannia ruled the seas.
Now she’s on her bended knees
For the first offence the Blue Streak had a stroke.
For defence we have to bank
On that God-Almighty Yank.
And look how well he stood us twice before.

In this Commonwealth brotherhood
To be white is to be good.
If you’re black Jack Mac says
‘We don’t want you here!’
For this immigration farce
Is not a colour bar – MY ARSE!
If you’re Irish, black or white, you need not fear!

The Worker’s Bomb

Those gallant members of the Left whose strangled Marxism has driven them to the defence of the Soviet Union’s bomb, have suppied excellent material for razor-sharp political satire. [Written by Eric Morse [1]]

Our cause is surely won this year
Because the leadership is here:
For Krushchev’s boys and Trotsky’s too
Now guide us in the work we do.


Then wave the Worker’s Bomb on high:
Beneath its cloud we’ll gladly die;
And though our critics all shout ‘BALLS’
We’ll stand beneath it when it falls.

While Western arms we strive to end,
The Russian bomb we will defend.
Degenerated though it be,
It is the People’s property.

The King Street comrades chant its praise.
In Clapham too they love its blaze,
Though quite deformed politically,
We must support it ... critically.

It will correct our errors past,
And clarify us with its blast;
Deep in our shelters, holes and nooks.
We’ll all have time to ‘read the books’.

And when we leave this world of toil,
And shuffle of our mortal coil,
We’ll thank the Bomb that set us free
To Socialist Eternity.

(Tune: The Red Flag)

The Man Who Did the Dirty Work for Gaitskell

On Sunday, May 6th, 1962, the leading ‘socialist’ in the country, Mr. Gaitskell, visited Glasgow. His only contribution to Labour Party unity was to call the most active and energetic section of his party ‘Peanuts’. After the demonstration of anger at his epithets, a member of Glasgow CND resigned and sent an apologetic letter to the aforementioned leader. On the Wednesday of that week a Glasgow newspaper printed the document and by Friday a song had been written about it. This shows how quickly such songs can be produced for topical use.

I used to be a marcher, and a very good one too.
And when I thought of Hugh
It used to make me spew.
But now I am a good RC
I’ve resigned my post in the CND.
I’m the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

I helped to form a club for making cups of tea
And building unity
Within the CND.
But all I really wanted to do
Was gather up Commies’ names for Hugh.
I’m the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

It was on a May Day bright
That I finally saw the light.
I saw an uncouth beast.
He was barracking my High Priest.
So I’ve deserted Jekyll for Mr. Hyde.
I’ve gone and joined the other side.
I’m the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

The Left-wing group in Glasgow has innumerable splits
It’s broken into bits.
It throws me into fits.
I couldn’t stand another faction,
So I’ve joined the Catholic Action
I’m the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

Two bureaucrats they visisted me the other day you know.
And though we all agreed
It was Hugh that spoiled the show.
I’m the fella that said
You can blame the bloody Reds.
’Cos I’m the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

Well now you’ve heard my story
And now you’ve heard my tale.
Of how I found a market, and I put you up for sale.
So if you want to get a head,
You can always chop one off a Red ...
Just like the man who does the dirty work for Gaitskell.

(Tune: I’m the man who broke the bank of Monte Carlo)

The Writing on the Wall

One of the many good songs from England in support of unilateralism which takes a dig at some of the world figures who help to maintain the nuclear rat-race.

Old Belshazzar had a wall, someone chalked a slogan –
Belshazzar got his chips that night, which proved that they weren’t joking.
Here’s the writing on the wall –
This is what is written:
Boot the bases, ban the bomb
And up with a neutral Britain!

Father’s on the sit-down gone, upon the square you’ll find him,
Mother’s there to egg him on and the kids are all behind him.
Home says: Fight for West Berlin, and if the Red’s won’t mind us
Let’s proudly climb into the bin and shut the lid behind us.

On the Proteus there’s a type a-polishing that button
And if he gives it one more swipe well all be dead as mutton.
Flapless Mac will get a shock if the Yankees switch that blast on
His balls’ll be in the Holy Loch and his clubs at Aldermaston.

King de Gaulle declares he’s dead against negotiation,
He takes a little bomb to bed to use for consolation.
Kruschev’s got the biggest bomb, he says it’s to protect ’em.
But once the Russians cotton on, they’ll stuff it in his samovar.

Twenty thousand sitting down upon their Sunday faces
Singing: Up with the CND and to hell with missile bases!

(Tune: Yankee Doodle)

The Button Pusher

The central character of this song is a pathetic little man whose job it is to press the button in Washington when the times comes. It is a construction on the song from the ’thirties’ The man who waters the workers’ beer.

I sit at my desk in Washington,
In front of a large machine,
More vicious than Adolf Hitler,
More deadly than strychnine;
In the evening after a tiring day,
Just to give myself a laugh –
I hit the button a playful belt,
And listen for the blast.


I’m the man, the well-fed man,
In charge of the dreadful knob,
The most pleasant thing about it is
It’s almost a permanent job!
When the atom war is over,
And the earth is split in three,
The consolation I’ve got – or maybe it’s not –
There’ll be nobody left but me.

If Kruschev starts his nonsense,
And makes a nasty smell;
With a wink and a nod from Kennedy
I’ll blast them all to hell!
And as for that fellow Castro,
Him with the sugar cane,
He needn’t hide behind his whiskers,
For I’ll get him just the same.

If my wife denies my conjugal rights,
Or the morning milk is sour;
From eight to nine in the morning
You’re in for a nasty hour;
The button being so terribly close
(It’s really a dreadful joke!)
A bump with my arse as I go past,
And you’ll all end up in smoke.

I’m thinking of joining the army,
The army of Ban the Bomb,
We’ll take up a large collection
And I’ll donate my thumb;
’Cause without it I am powerless,
And that’s the way to be –
You don’t have to kill the whole bloody lot
To make the people free!

We Dinna Want Polaris

This song marks a historical point in the writing of satirical political song in that it was the first anti-Polaris song to come out of Glasgow. It was the first of many, the most popular of which are printed here.

The USA are gie’n subs away,
Gie’n subs away,
Gie’n subs away, hay, hay,
The USA are gie’n subs away,
But we dinna want Polaris.

Tell the Yanks tae drap them doon the stanks,
Drap them doon the stanks, etc.

The Cooncil o’ Dunoon, they want thir hauf-a-croon,
Want thir hauf-a-croon, etc.

The hairies o’ the toon are sailing tae Dunoon,
Sailin tae Dunoon, etc.

It’s suicide tae hae them on the Clyde,
Ha’e them on the Clyde, etc.

The Clyde says ‘Naw, ye’ll hae tae shoot the craw,
Ye’ll hae tae shoot the craw’, etc.

Tak the haill dam show up the River Alamo,
River Alamo, etc.

Anchors aweigh for Poppa Kennedy,
Poppa, Kennedy, Poppa Kennedy, hay, hay,
Anchors aweigh for Poppa Kennedy,
An ta-ta tae Polaris.

(Tune: Three Craws)

The Gleska Eskimos

In the latter part of 1961, several direct action canoes were involved in a demonstration at the Holy Loch. The New Frontier’s gift to Scotland, Commander Lanin, commented to the press that the demonstrators resembled eskimos. What a gift to the songwriters!

It’s up the Clyde comes Lanin – a super duper Yank,
But doon a damn sight quicker when we coup him doon the stank.
Up tae the neck in sludge an sewage fairly stops yuir swank.
– We are the Gleska Eskimos.


Hullo! Hullo! we are the Eskimos,
Hullo! Hullo! the Gleska Eskimos,
We’ll gaff that nyaff ca’d Lanin,
And we’ll spear him whaur he blows,
– We are the Gleska Eskimos.

It’s in an oot, an up an doon, an oan an aff the piers,
There’s cooncillors, collaborators, pimps an profiteers –
The hairies jouk the polis an’ the polis jouk the queers,
– We are the Gleska Eskimos.

There’s dredgers an there’s sludgie-boats tae keep the river clean,
Ye lift yuir haun an pu the chain – ye ken fine whit ah mean.
But why in hell has the Holy Loch been left ootside the scheme
– We are the Gleska Eskimos.

We’ve been in mony a rammy, lads, we’ve been in mony a tear,
We’ve sortit oot this kind afore, we’ll sort them onywhere.
So, get yuir harpoons ready – he’s comin up for air
– We are the Gleska Eskimos.

(Tune: Marching Through Georgia)

Queens Park 1962

This covers the events of May Day 1962 and its repercussions. It would be advisable for Gaitskellites not to sing this song to their particular folk hero.

Now Mr Hugh Gaitskell’s a queer kind of man,
Aye lookin’ aroon’ him for things he can ban:
Young Guard and Keep Left, CND, the haill lot;
An behind every bush he sees lurkin a Trot.

Too-roo-loo, too-roo-lay,
It’s ta-ta tae Gaitskell an Kennedy tae.

He cam up tae Gleska on a bricht simmer’s day
An the crowds they aa gaithered tae hear whit he’d say.
The platform party looked cheery and braw,
An the big banner said : Tak Polaris awa.

Now we’d aa been tellt Gaitskell’s a gey clever bloke,
But anti-Polaris fair gied him the boke,
For he’d promised the Tories and Jack Kennedy
Tae stop the folk takin’ Polaris away.

He started tae speak but they shouted him down,
For they didna hae ony respect for the clown,
His very first question, it gied them their cue;
Who’ll lead for the Tories? – they aa shouted : You!

Oh, the music grew hotter aroon the band-stand
An got orchestrated an spread thru the land.
An folk will remember that bonnie May-day,
When the Clyde started takin’ Polaris away.

(Tune: The Ould Orange Flute)


At the present moment, this is possibly the most popular song of its type in Glasgow. In it, Polaris is hopefully compared to a boomerang, the weapon which always returns to its place of origin. It also takes on the famous May Day episode.

They say that the atom-ship doon at Dunoon
Belang tae a big millionaire,
An ah hope tae Hell they’ll be oot o there soon,
Afore we’re aa up in the air.
The fella that sent them’s an awfy nice chap:
He sent them owre here as a gift:
He heard the hotels in Dunoon were depressed
An he wanted tae gie them a lift


Boomerang! Boomerang!
Just send them back whaur they belang,
Alang wi auld Adenauer, Kennedy’s Pal,
Signor Fanfani and Chairlie De Gaulle,
For we dinna like gifts that go bang.
– Just try wan an see if I’m wrang:
The banners are wavin’,
Wha’s next for the shavin’?
So open your boom: boomerang!

Ye aa ken how Gaitskell got shelled at Queen’s Park
An’ roasted an’ salted as well.
He cried the folk peanuts, but aabody kens
The only nut there wis hissel.
Cause Britain’s too poor tae keep makin’ the bomb
He’d leave a’ that side tae the Yanks;
And back Adenauer and the hail Nato shower
Wi sodgers, bazookas an tanks!

Now there’s Hyugs, and there’s mugs an there’s OAS thugs,
There’s Nazis and Birch-men galore,
Aa feart for the Reds crawlin’ under their beds
An lurkin’ behind every door:
So we’re no takin’ orders fae Paris or Bonn
We’re no takin’ orders fae Rome,
We’re no playin’ alang wi the Washington gang,
We’re just tellin’ the nut-men – GO HOME!

(Tune: Bless ’em all)

Ding Dong Dollar

This is an early one, but it has become the anthem of the Anti-Polaris movement. It contains the most concise reply to the nuclear nut-cases : ‘Ye cannae spend a dollar when yuir deid’.


O ye canny spend a dollar when yuir deid
O ye canny spend a dollar when yuir deid:
Singin’ Ding ... Dong... Dollar; Everybody holler
Ye canny spend a dollar when yuir deid.

O’ the Yanks have juist drapt anchor in Dunoon
An they’ve had the civic welcome fae the toon,
As they cam up the measured mile
Bonnie Mary o’ Argyll
Wis wearin’ spangled drawers ablow her goon.

O the Clyde is sure to prosper noo they’re here
For they’re chargin wan and tenpence for a beer
And when they want a taxi
They shove it up their jersey
An charge them thirty bob tae Sandbank Pier.

An the publicans will aa be daein’ swell,
For its juist the thing that’s sure tae ring the bell.
O the dollars they will jingle
They’ll be no a lassie single
Even though they maybe blaw us aa tae hell.

But the Glesca Moderator disnae mind:
In fact, he thinks the Yanks are awfy kind,
For if it’s heaven that ye’re goin’
It’s a quicker way than rawin’,
An there’s sure tae be naebody left behind.


O ye canny spend a dollar when yuir deid
Sae tell Kennedy he’s got tae keep the heid,
Singin’ Ding Dong Dollar, everbody holler
Ye canny spend a dollar when yuir died.

(Tune: She’ll be coming round the mountain)

Note by ETOL

1. Correction made in Letter to Readers, International Socialism, No.11, Winter 1962, p.27. The song first appeared in Solidarity, Vol.I No.5.

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