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Saturday 10 August 2013

Louise Mensch To The Rescue

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

After Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy began to ask questions about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s guest appearance at a Traditional Britain Group (TBG) dinner, and the wider media picked up on the low convocation of intolerance and bigotry that is at the group’s heart, there has been a rush to tell that the Tory MP for North-East Somerset is not really that kind of chap, honestly.
Has she got news for us? Maybe not

And taking to Twitter in his defence has been the former Corby and East Northamptonshire MP who now represents the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, Louise Mensch, who is clearly concerned lest anyone think her bestest pal has anything in common with TBG. As the Independent has published a photo showing one of TBG’s leading lights sitting at Rees-Mogg’s left, this will not be easy.
Rees-Mogg (centre) and Lauder-Frost (right)

Nor, I have to tell her, will any suggestion that the involvement of Sunny Hundal be held to equal “mischievous leftie who you can ignore” get her anywhere. Groups like TBG, and its vice-president Gregory Lauder-Frost, are not something to be laughed off as some kind of fringe throwback: he, and his group, are a rallying point for virulent racism and intolerance.
Still, Louise has given it her best shot, telling her Twitter followers “A word on @sunny_hundal posts on the great Rees-Mogg. Disclaimer; he has been my best male friend for twenty years”. This did not prove sufficiently convincing, probably because the friendship did not mean Rees-Mogg had not attended TBG’s dinner and sat next to the deeply unsavoury Lauder-Frost.
So it was back to Twitter to excuse her pal: “Jacob is not only the nicest man in the world, he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter. Only recently accepted e-mail and then only in a pinch”. Yes Louise, but that does not absolve Rees-Mogg from doing such elementary things as performing due diligence on groups he might not otherwise have known very much about.
But go on: “The chances that he had any idea of the nuttier social media postings of this group are less than zero. The end. Attack fizzles”. And, as Jon Stewart (that’s one of Louise’s neighbours) might have said, two things here. They’re not “nuttier social media postings”, but as Lauder-Frost’s appearance before Vanessa Feltz showed, TBG’s core values. And, by heck, are they repugnant.

Moreover, Rees-Mogg certainly did have an idea: he was contacted before the dinner and given chapter and verse on TBG (which you can also see on Liberal Conspiracy, folks). He could have withdrawn. He did not. Louise Mensch’s support is clearly genuine, and laudable, but nothing is going to fizzle out any time soon. Rees-Mogg has been at best foolish, and at worst ... let’s not go there.

And the real target is the racist bigots of TBG. Don’t let this shower off the hook.

[UPDATE1 11 August 1605 hours: Louise Mensch, having also taken the Murdoch shilling recently, has given Jacob Rees-Mogg a mention in her latest column for the Sunday edition of the Sun. And, to no surprise at all, except for those who expect her to make sense once in a while, she has concluded that Young Dave should give Rees-Mogg a promotion. You read that right.
Well, were I advising Cameron, the last person who I would recommend him awarding any kind of ministerial rank would be a back bencher whose research was so piss-poor that he failed to check out the bona fides of a fringe group and went to address them, only finding out later, when the whole thing had been reported widely, that they were a bunch of unreconstructed racist bigots.

The best Rees-Mogg can hope for will be that he does not get any further Grade A bollockings from the Whips for being such a complete and utter prat, and that his constituency association interpret his lapse as just one of those things that happens when their MP tries to live in the last Century]

[UPDATE2 17 August 1530 hours: several enquiries were made, after I first posted this item, as to the identity of the young man sat at Rees-Mogg's right (or left of the photo). The Independent has tracked him down, and by doing so has shown the problem for the Tory Party with groups like TBG.

Calum Rupert Heaton-Gent is the name; he is a history undergraduate at Sheffield University. He claims to have resigned from TBG's committee last year, and that he only attended the dinner so that he could meet Rees-Mogg. But he is also a leading light in Conservative Future (CF).

Heaton-Gent is vice-chair of Sheffield University CF, and also deputy chair of its Yorkshire and Humber branch. Whether or not Tory Party members who were found to also be part of TBG would lead to their expulsion was one of those questions that party chairman Grant "Spiv" Shapps did not address.

So, Tory Party people, does members being part of TBG mean you'll kick them out of your ranks? And if not, why not? Don't all rush to answer]


littlekeithy said...

Rees Mogg founded an investment fund, Somerset Capital Management, which has its own website. Obviously he's unlikely to be putting in the hours designing the website. But given that investment managers have to be pretty tech-savie these days to earn the amounts they believe they are entitled to and his listed speciality is macro, I am sure he isn't the bumbling fool he pretends to be.

More likely a combination of arrogance and disdain (cf Johnson, B).

hengist mcstone said...

MP uses social media to prove his ignorance. How did our lords and masters get by before the invention of the internet?