Tory throwback Jacob Rees Mogg is still in the news, and still it is for all the wrong reasons. Questions continue to be asked about the ruckus that occurred at the University of the West of England last Friday at a speech he was giving, and alongside this, there is also the issue of the MP’s security arrangements. On the latter issue, we have the word of The Great Man himself to guide us. Well, up to a point.
It has been suggested that Paul Townsley, the “White Shirted Assailant” who intervened in the noisy but peaceful stand-off between Rees Mogg and a group of protestors who, it seems, had nothing to do with campaigning group Momentum, but claims not to have hit anyone despite the video showing him striking a young woman and manhandling another of those protesting, had some role in protecting the Moggster.
Well, the MP has now decreed that his Twitter feed should convey the following news to his adoring public: “Fake news is not new but the idea that I have a bodyguard is bonkers”. That’ll tell those interfering new media chappies, then. Or maybe it won’t: video evidence from another meeting where Rees Mogg faced a protest does not sit well with this claim. Nor do comments made by Townsley when the press caught up with him.
As Skwawkbox has told, there is “video showing Rees-Mogg being escorted by an employee of security firm Eyewitness Protection during a public appearance in Cheltenham”. We know this as the employee was wearing a company jacket with its name on the back - thus facing the camera. There was, in addition, a plain clothes Eyewitness Protection man shown escorting Rees Mogg away from the protestors.
So perhaps not such a bonkers idea after all. And then we get to Paul Townsley, who was tracked down by the Murdoch Times. That paper’s article is paywalled, but the Mail has lifted the copy (see how that works, Rupe?) so we know what was said.
Firstly, his wife told “He dressed up [in the SS uniform] for a family do. He is a good man and a lot of people would support that”. That was what lost Aidan Burley his Parliamentary career - and he didn’t wear the uniform, he just hired it for someone else.
But the dead giveaway came when Townsley himself explained why he intervened in the protest. “He [JRM] was vulnerable. From the guy in the sunglasses' body language he was getting more aggressive and getting into Mr Rees-Mogg's personal space … I was worried about Mr Rees-Mogg's safety. I knew there was no security”.
He also claimed “I'm not a fan of politicians, I think they should be questioned at every opportunity”. But despite not being a fan of politicians, and his son still being a sixth-form student, they both went to the UWE event. And the way he talks about Rees Mogg being “vulnerable”, someone’s “body language” becoming “more aggressive”, and “personal space”, sounds like a security professional speaking, not a mere passer-by.
But then, when Rees Mogg addressed the question by saying “the idea I have a bodyguard in bonkers”, he wasn’t issuing a denial. He had security at Cheltenham. And the white-shirted assailant from the UWE talks like he’s security. What was that about “if it looks like a duck and waddles like a duck”? I’ll just leave that one there.