The election: A Slip of the Tongue
Thursday, 12 December 2019 20:06

The election: A Slip of the Tongue

Published in Poetry

A Slip of the Tongue

by Jim Mainland

Forgive me, but I rarely listen to
the flagging-ship Today programme these days.
However, a nonagenarian
acquaintance of mine who ‘takes’, as you chaps say,
the hard-right organs The Telegraph,
Spectator and Mail – these days your target
demographic, it would seem – alerted me
to the fact that during his interview
with congenial John McDonnell, Nick Robinson
made a chilling reference to something
called a Momentum ‘cabal’.

According
to my friend, who was almost incoherent
with terror, this evil entity is
abroad in the land dictating Labour
Party policy and perhaps soon that
of the entire nation.
To calm him down,
I promised to do some research and was soon
able to reassure him that Momentum
is not a small, dangerous, secretive,
manipulative cult, as Mr Robinson’s
unfortunate choice of word might lead you
to believe, but an open, democratic
organisation with a large membership
of decent, tolerant individuals
who happen to want a fairer, more equal society.

I wonder if this was a slip of the tongue
on Mr Robinson’s part; perhaps he was
really thinking of the ERG,
or the CBI,
or the Taxpayers’ Alliance,
or the Dominic Cummings Experience
when he used the word ‘cabal’.
I’m sure, given Mr Robinson’s love
of the rhetorical flourish, he must have
referred to those aforementioned groupings
in such a way at some point in the past?
Oh, he hasn’t.
How remiss of him!

In the interests of scrupulous impartiality,
may we expect to hear Mr Robinson using
the ‘c’ word to describe them in future?
I would like that very much.
On a lighter note, the lack of political diversity
within your news production and presentation
teams undermines your much-vaunted claims
to impartiality and ‘balance’.
How about you give over the Today programme,
or any of its satellites, to Momentum to edit
and present for a week? I reckon they would
make a pretty good job of it,
and would probably be happy to do it for nothing.
Think of the savings!

The poet has sent this poem to the BBC as a complaint on the biased use of language on the Today programme.