Lucy Vickery


In Competition No. 2896 you were invited to take Kipling’s ‘If’ and recast it on behalf of a politician on the campaign trail.

In an interview with the New Republic in 1985, Mario Cuomo said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. And Hugo Rifkind, in conversation on Radio 4 with the poet Ian McMillan about the relationship between politicians and poetry, noted that ‘If’ is often cited by politicians as moral inspiration. So it seemed like a good idea to give you the chance to put a twist on Kipling’s rousing poem, on behalf of one of the contenders in the current campaign as they neared the finishing post.

G.M. Davis, Nick Grace and R.M. Goddard earn commendations. The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £25 each, except Brian Murdoch, who snaffles the bonus fiver.

If you can lose a referendum and still act
As if you’d won it, time and time again;
If you can claim you’re going to make a pact
But never make your real conditions plain;
If you can try to split from the UK
Then six months later make it clear to see
That now you want to rule the lot your way,
Yet still play down illogicality;
If you can woo the English viewers too
In fierce debates on national TV,
So they don’t notice they can’t vote for you,
And you’re not even standing as MP,
If you can do well in a vox-pop poll,
And gain the maximum publicity,
Yours is the whole election rigmarole,
And, which is more, you’ll keep the SNP!
Brian Murdoch
If you can look on Deficit and Debt
And treat those paper tigers with disdain;
Say those most taxed should pay more taxes yet
Since having wealth should mean deserving pain.

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