Jacob Rees Mogg, the honourable member for a bygone age when the moneyed class ruled over us, and the lower orders damn well knew their place, pontificated yesterday about the growth in the number of food banks. “I don’t think the state can do everything … It tries to provide a base of welfare that should allow people to make ends meet during the course of the week, but on some occasions that will not work”.
All so matter-of-fact, as if he were examining his share portfolio, before deciding to sell the children into slavery and go into South American Zinc. But the Moggster did have kind words for those working at all those food banks. “to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens, I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are”. So that’s all right, then.
He also wanted LBC listeners to know that the increase in the numbers of food banks was Labour’s fault: “Food banks pre-date the Conservative government and crucially, the change that took place was that the Conservative government allowed Jobcentre Plus to tell people that food banks existed … And the former Labour government would not tell them, and that was a policy decision to stop people knowing that there was help available”.
The Trussell Trust disagreed: their “figures show that, far from triggering a flood of referrals, the decision had little direct effect on food bank activity. In 2016-17, just 5% of referrals to Trussell food banks were from jobcentres, a proportion that has remained virtually unchanged for at least the past three years”. Moreover, “Charities said that year-on-year increases in the volume of charity food given out in the UK over the past decade were driven largely by welfare reforms, benefit delays and sanctions that had left low-income people in financial crisis”. Once again, he just doesn’t get it. So he makes it up.
Why this should be is mainly down to two factors. One is that Rees Mogg, the modern-day incarnation of the Monty Python “Upper Class Twit” Nigel Hyphen Hyphen Stroke Money, is unfeasibly rich. He enjoys significant inherited wealth. His declared earnings include £170,000 a year from his being a partner at Somerset Asset Management, where he puts in a total of just 30 hours’ work a month (down from 35 recently).
His trousering of over £14,000 a month from SAM is more than many food bank users earn in a whole year. And Rees Mogg has his MPs salary to add to that, plus his shareholdings and property ownership. All this, of course, need not disbar him from talking about poverty and food banks, were it not for his clear inability to figure out that the world outside his moneyed bubble is rather different to his own.
Like so many out on the right, Jacob Rees Mogg talks well, but lies badly. Blaming Labour for the rise in the number of food banks is the kind of crass and dishonest deflection that belies the well-cultivated image of high intellect. And the idea that his ignorance and partisanship should be excused because he’s an “authentic” politician - well, so were any number of tyrants and dictators. Authenticity does not make ends meet for the poor.
And what this also demonstrates in spades is how out of touch Tory supporters are: Rees Mogg was the favourite with Conservative Home readers to replace Theresa May as party leader. And we should look up to these people? I’ll just leave that one there.