Alastair Stewart writes on the strange appeal of the unlikeable upper class.

Moggmentum’ is sweeping the UK and it’s gotten a little out of hand. The online campaign to elect Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative leader is rooted in a pseudo-ironic play on the ‘Momentum’ movement that launched Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership.

The problem is people presume contemptuous political positions must be held by reasonable people if they if don’t hide them. Mogg has consistently voted against equal gay rights, same-sex marriage, laws to promote equality, human rights and assisted suicide.

The public is so tired of politicians pretending to be likeable that they prefer politicians to be unlikable as proof that they are not pretending. Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump sound so absurdly unelectable that they must be sincere if their hat is in the ring at all.

Traditionally the left can’t do humour, preferring the burning intensity of statistics and policy. The right, on the other hand, enjoys a lighthearted freedom imbued with self-deprecation and wit.

The result is Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and now Mogg, indulging in reactionary policies with disarmingly merry displays of faux self-deprecation during Question Time and Have I Got News For You appearances.

Mogg’s foppish charm hides extreme snobbery and contempt. While he’s a parliamentarian of ilk and eloquence, his quintessentially aristocratic demeanour shouldn’t be confused with a liberal alternative to Theresa May. The patrician age of gentlemen politicians might seem alluring but are we now seriously turning to a religious climate sceptic who hates the EU and praises for Iain Duncan Smith’s disability cuts?

The Tory party would have to take leave of their senses to turn to Mogg, but what’s been proven in the last year is that a small, dedicated band of outsiders can turn the electoral tables. In this case, the nationalist fantasy of Brexit could fulfil itself with the preposterousness of Mogg as prime minister.

So do not mistake his throwback, pragmatic, seemingly non-ideological, disposition as progressive. Mogg lives in a mansion called Gournay Court, has never changed a nappy, is the son of a lord and was educated at Eton and Oxford before going on to work in the City. As an aspiring MP, he proudly toured Fife in a Mercedes with his nanny.

Back in 1999, Mogg got tricked into an interview with ‘Ali G’ during which he struggled to explain class and nobility. It’s painful viewing, even now. Sacha Baron Cohen did more back then to skewer the absurdity and haughtiness of Mogg than any journalist of late, and it’s time we all called time on the joke.

 

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