SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE

Learn to love me
Assemble the ways
Now, today, tomorrow and always
My only weakness is a list of crime
My only weakness is ... well, never mind, never mind

Oh, shoplifters of the world
Unite and take over
Shoplifters of the world
Hand it over
Hand it over
Hand it over

Learn to love me
And assemble the ways
Now, today, tomorrow, and always
My only weakness is a listed crime
But last night the plans of a future war
Was all I saw on Channel Four

Shoplifters of the world
Unite and take over
Shoplifters of the world
Hand it over
Hand it over
Hand it over

A heartless hand on my shoulder
A push - and it's over
Alabaster crashes down
(Six months is a long time)
Tried living in the real world
Instead of a shell
But before I began ...
I was bored before I even began

Shoplifters of the world
Unite and take over
Shoplifters of the world
Unite and take over
Shoplifters of the world
Unite and take over
Shoplifters of the world
Take over


In many ways, this song epitomises the greatness of middle-era Smithdom. Morrissey's call to arms of the world's disenfranchised is supplemented by one of Marr's best compositions of the era, with a rumbling ominous backing underneath Morrissey's plaintive but demanding vocal.
Morrissey is clearly referring to homosexuality in the line "My only weakness is well ... never mind, never mind." Referring to a film starring a gay icon, his description of this "weakness" as a crime is surely intended to place this song in the chronology of the sixties, when homosexuality was first decriminalised in the UK. This is backed up by the mock-revolutionary lyrics urging the Shoplifters to "Unite and take over !".
Jason Little gives a different interpretation of the song :

Clause 28 was a Maggie Thatcher invention during the mid-late eighties to stop the "promotion" of homosexuality and other "alternative lifestyles"; this meant that such things as plays, books and other media or arts related things were not allowed to promote alternative lifestyles (sounds unbelievable, but quite true), for example libraries could be prosecuted for holding books which specifically promoted such things.
"I follow her career," Morrissey says. "Obviously, I find the entire Thatcher syndrome very stressful and evil and all those other words. But I think there's very little that people can do about it. The most perfect example, I suppose, is Clause 28. I think that absolutely embodies Thatcher's very nature and her quite natural hatred."

I still believe that's what he was referring to in Shoplifters. The part about Channel 4 covering a future war could be to do with Clause 28 being overlooked in the channel's news, which I think was around the same time. Maybe the whole song is inspired by this Clause as it ties in with the line "...a listed crime".


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