The press loves to promote one of its own. Their fawning promotion of Michael “Oiky” Gove, and London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, is not an accident, and nor has it proved particularly beneficial to politics generally. Now, that same press is promoting another not very nice right-wing eccentric, and again, it comes down to a press connection. Their new favourite is Jacob Rees Mogg.
The Member for North East Somerset ’s father was William Rees Mogg, a newspaperman of some repute. His sister Annunziata is a journalist. He can therefore be considered one of their own, and so the promotion has gathered pace, not least when he and his wife recently announced the birth of their sixth child, to whom they have bestowed the highly individual Christian name Sixtus. But here a problem enters.
Jacob Rees Mogg may look appealingly eccentric, but his recent form suggests he is not the kindly soul his press pals would have us believe. Take, for instance, his attendance of a Traditional Britain Group gathering, a body with three former Monday Club alumni in its ranks, one of whom, its then vice president Gregory Lauder Frost, had addressed TBG on the subject of “Immigration and repatriation”.
Rees Mogg has suggested doing away with European standards after Brexit, and instead substituting those from elsewhere in the the world: as the Independent reported, “Jacob Rees-Mogg said regulations that were ‘good enough for India’ could be good enough for the UK – arguing that the UK could go ‘a very long way’ to rolling back high EU standards”. He had added “We could say, if it’s good enough in India, it’s good enough for here. There’s nothing to stop that”. Still think he’s just an appealing eccentric?
Consider his voting record in the Commons: “Consistently voted against equal gay rights … Consistently voted against allowing marriage between two people of same sex … Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights”. And there’s more.
Anyone supportive of our armed forces? You might not like Rees Mogg’s voting record there. He “Consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas … Consistently voted against investigations into the Iraq war … Consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system … Consistently voted for military action against ISIL (Daesh)”, but here’s the pay-off.
Rees Mogg “Consistently voted against strengthening the Military Covenant”. It was fine to put our soldiers in harm’s way, but they should not expect a decent retirement from a thankful country as a result. Still think he’s a harmless eccentric?
How about his welfare stance? In favour of the “Bedroom tax”, and then … “Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices … Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability … Consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits … Consistently voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed”.
Jacob Rees Mogg isn’t an amiable eccentric. He’s just another intolerant Tory.