To the hero of the hour…

Photo by ITV News

We are delighted to publish this re-writing of Kipling’s If by formidable political journalist, Julian Haviland. Written in July 2019, it resonates even more strongly today – more’s the pity.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

If you can take offence at all who doubt you

And see that they are all disposed of too.

If you can pack your Cabinet with toadies

And zealots (though they’ll get you when you fail)

Be rude to foreign friends to make them hostile

So tour their capitals to no avail;

And let your lackeys slander civil servants

Who serve you well but put the nation first,

Allow your thugs to call remainers traitors,

Tell those who know you best to do their worst.

If you twist words to make your listeners fools,

Make truth of no account and break all laws;

If facts and figures have no use as tools

And all men count with you who share your flaws;

If you persuade the world to lick your feet

And think “l’etat c’est moi”, and so conflate

With charm and guile and unabashed conceit

Your clownish person with the British state;

If billionaires and chancers all prefer you

And crooks who launder cash give you no pain;

If you can lie and not let truth deter you

And, challenged, laugh it off and lie again;

If you can fill each ill-considered minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of damage done,

Yours is the mire and everything that’s in it

And, what is more, you’ll make your name, my son.

Until you find hard graft no longer fun

And, tired of striving to destroy the nation,

Betray once more your friends and, antics done,

Resume your life of fibs and fornication.

Julian Haviland, July 2019