Throughout the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg is waggishly referred to, by his contemporary colleagues – and even by his own party as – “The member for the early twentieth century”.
Invectives, no matter how humorous or cutting, often turn out to be quite accurate! Mr Rees-Mogg is not only a politician who would harmonise perfectly with the governments of Baldwin and Balfour, but probably Disraeli too!
Rees-Mogg seemingly has no affinity with modern political figures, nor should he seek to! He’s his own man, an anomaly in 21st century British politics.
In today’s heavily scrutinised world of envy and class division, he is regarded as a privileged toff, an elite! A throwback to the black and white days of oppression and servitude. We are meant to be, not only tolerant of brash northern MPs, or cockney ex union reps, but positively grateful for them. Many politicians on the left try to hide their Oxbridge, grammar school accents by dropping their Ts and Hs. So that the word “university” becomes “universi’ y”! Those who practice these “glottal- stops” as they are officially called, seem either ashamed of speaking correctly, or afraid to give away their secret of a good upbringing and education, in case their working class constituents decide not to vote for them. I personally think it’s the latter.
The Conservative Party on the other hand still have a fairly large contingent of well spoken, privileged members in the House of Commons. Some tone down their posh accents, but most behave according to their standard of upbringing. They’re not too ashamed to speak correctly in other words.
Speaking with a superior accent is by no means all that is required to appear upper crust and dashing. Throughout the 18th, 19th and early twentieth century satirists have mocked the aristocracy for their ritzy accents, naive views and snobbish silliness. The archetypal Jeeves and Wooster characters are a typical example. Ridiculed, derided and cruelly targeted by their less privileged cynics, who instinctively know there will be little or no empathy for their victims.
Which brings us to Jacob Rees-Mogg and the growing cult of centre-right supporters he is amassing. The media – and to be honest – those who are in the business of political whataboutery, are at a loss to explain it. How has this junior member for North East Somerset who has never held even the lowest level of office suddenly become the darling of the Tory grassroots movement? Even the young are joining the cult of JRM veneration, or Moggmentum as it’s frequently called.
My attention was first drawn to JRM immediately after the 2010 general election. He was part of the new intake that contributed to David Cameron’s victory and subsequent coalition with the Lib Dems. He was just 18 days short of his 41st birthday. From the outset, the new member for NE Somerset was an outspoken critic of Cameron’s coalition. Rees-Mogg was no admirer of the socially liberal Cameron, who would have been classed as the wettest of wets in Margaret Thatcher’s time. Despite going to Eton and Oxford (within 3 years of each other) their educational outcomes were antithetical.
Though giving the appearance of a traditional, grey-suited Tory, Rees-Mogg is nothing of the sort. He possesses a rebellious streak that reflects the mood of the country. Constitutionally there is no more learned member of the house. A passionate historian, Rees-Mogg is always on hand to inform his peers of their inaccuracies or relate a distant anecdote to a current political situation. He delivers oratory with ease and conviction, often spiced with good humour and hugely appreciated by all sides of the house.
On analysing Rees-Moggs past performances, both in the house and on TV, it is without doubt, this swift and stupefying blow delivered – deservingly – to David Dimbleby on an episode of BBC Question Time a couple of years ago that endeared him – not only to Tory supporters but also to the general public. The audience reaction was collective and appreciative and rarely does that happen in support of a politician. Dimbleby’s embarrassed chuckling was all the proof, if needed that Jacob Rees-Mogg is not to be messed with.
As the disastrous results of the 2017 general election came in on the 8th May – sending the Tories into a tailspin – all thoughts turned to a new leader. The usual big beasts were thrust forward, Boris, Davies, Hammond Fox… the list was continually updated and analysed by the media. Prospective candidates were uncertain whether to go on manoeuvres or modestly protest their support for their fumbling leader Theresa May.
The government had been dealt a near fatal blow! The Tory core vote had held firm, in fact it showed a modest increase. The swing to Labour in certain areas was unfathomable, and has recently been attributed to the unexpectedly large turnout of younger voters, mainly students, who not only bothered to get out of bed for the first time in electoral history, but in many thousands of cases did so more than once! (The electoral commission and police are looking into this as I write).
In the uncomfortable weeks since the last election the Tory party machine has rallied -mostly unconvincingly – around their lame-duck leader. The country is yet again divided into three, with Corbyn supporters demanding another election – encouraged by their lead in the polls, moderate Labour who dread the very idea of a Corbyn premiership, and a weak Conservative government who are fearful that the youth vote would actually increase and
deliver them the mortal blow!
For now at least, despite the mischievous left-leaning media, there is little appetite for a leadership contest, let alone another general election.
Right now, the cabinet is behaving like a bunch of reluctant guests in the drawing room of a country hotel at the beginning of a murder mystery weekend, not knowing if their next move will expose them as the protagonist, victim or the detective! No! Let’s make that a theatrical production with an audience of Tory activists and supporters.
Now just imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg entering that drawing room from stage right! His demeanour one of calm, collected authority, eyeing the assembled, shifty cabinet with disdain and suspicion. Pulling a cigarette case from the inside pocket of his dinner jacket and tapping his chosen smoke against the lid, he begins to question the sweating assortment of delinquents.
You can imagine it can’t you!! Rees-Mogg is that authority figure. He is more than capable of establishing himself as the authority in the company of any individuals from Brussels, to the House of Commons or any TV studio in the land. He possesses the gravitas, intellect and conviction.
Returning to our theatre audience of Tory grassroots, they would lap up the masterful performance of Detective Inspector Mogg. But what if that audience were made up of the general public, or ordinary voters as we should call them? Would he be seen as the convincing, trusty policeman or a posh oppressor?