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