Eyebrows were raised in Summer 2013 when Jacob Rees Mogg, the Honourable member for times long past, was discovered to have been the guest of honour at a gathering of the Traditional Britain Group. He had been warned about attending, but TBG had dismissed the warnings as a “smear”. Rees Mogg checked with CCHQ, “who had no knowledge of the group that they could give me”. This was disingenuous claptrap.
As I told at the time, enough was known about TBG and its antecedents for Rees Mogg to steer well clear. He did not. So his latest genuflection to the far-right should have come as no surprise: he is now speaking in praise of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD, asking his Twitter followers “The AfD leader asks ‘Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?’”
Rees Mogg with Gregory "Lauder" Frost of the TBG
Jeremy Cliffe of the Economist appreciated the significance of the Moggster’s move. “Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the most powerful forces in Britain's governing Conservative Party, has just endorsed Germany's overtly racist AfD party”. And not only is AfD a racist party, it is one that is trying to re-legitimise the darkest part of the country’s past.
Björn Höcke of AfD, and behind him Lutz Bachmann
A report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung from last September gives an idea of where the AfD is heading. There at a demonstration in the eastern city of Chemnitz is AfD Parliamentary leader Björn Höcke, and right behind him is Lutz Bachmann, founder of Pegida. In the past, the AfD leadership had kept its distance from Pegida. Not any more.
Bachmann is, as Zelo Street regulars will already know, good friends with Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. Bachmann has a holiday home on the Canary Island of Tenerife; he and Lennon met up when the latter took his family on holiday to a nearby resort. Thus the connection to the far right in the UK.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung report makes plain the Pegida-AfD links, noting “Last February, Pegida bosses visited a members’ convention of the Saxon AfD in Hoyerswerda. The newly elected state chairman Jörg Urban declared that the two had common goals. He argued that AFD state associations should decide independently whether they work together with Pegida members”. And for Rees Mogg, it gets worse.
As Musa Okwonga has told, “The AfD have also asked for the reintroduction of Nazi terminology to political discourse [significant parts of that terminology have been banned in modern Germany, along with Nazi symbolism and regalia] … The AfD have made statements described by a prominent commentator here in Germany as ‘full neo-Nazi’”.
Jacob Rees Mogg gave Traditional Britain Group, a deeply unpleasant convocation of racists and xenophobes, a legitimacy it did not, and does not, merit. He’s now begun to flirt with a group linked directly to the far-right both in its native Germany, and here in the UK.
Yet he remains an ostensibly mainstream Tory MP, is talked of as a candidate for high office, and his views are eagerly sought by media outlets. I’ll just leave that one there.
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