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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Comments (5)

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  1. IDL says:

    Mogg is a man who is always aware of his contrarian ‘appeal’. Not unlike many other political figures he is playing a game to establish a presence.
    The contrarianism is a response to this difficult period of time we live in, where science and scholarship has failed to provide certainty and indeed has provided assessments which are based on finely distinguished degrees of risk or probability.
    In these circumstances it is easy for fanciful, and privileged individuals such as Mogg (essentially the same approach as Johnson’s schtick) to provide a rhetorical flourish combined with uninformed(but comforting) opinion which appeals to people who, quite legitimately cannot ‘know’ anything significant about say Brexit or Climate change.
    These uncertainties and confusion of possibilities and probabilities around such issues, are appeased and settled by the authoritative ignorance of Mogg (and others of that ilk).

    The reactionary toff speaking down to earth ‘common sense’ (i.e. simplistic prejudiced tosh) is largely an act. It is a means of asserting a distinct political identity. The pronouncements he makes about women’s fertility, or food banks, or climate change or the antedeluvianist disposition and his medievalist social inclination, his cultivated but phoney patrician air of authority-all vacuous and empty, are distinguished only by caprice, and benefit to himself -a narcissistic charlatan.
    Interviewed on Channel 4 yesterday about Pritti Patel he was fulsome in his praise for this elevated Tobacco apologist and lobbyist(such an honourable profession) but in doing so he revealed the ugly reality behind his cadaverous face.

  2. Darren Pike says:

    Great piece.

    I find politicians like Mogg, and Johnson, extremely distasteful for a variety of reasons, most of them you’ve hit on the head well here.

    What I would love to see is an analysis of exactly why they prove so immune to their so-called ‘faux-pas’ gaffes and distasteful beliefs AND a plan for how to overcome their medieval defences and hoist them, preferably with their own petard, out of govt.

    I expect any evaluation to include the elderly, old-fashioned Tory aligned BBC, a lasting adherence to the class system, money, more money and extreme amounts of money plus a doting Right Wing press core.

    A solution may involve – more transparency in politics (esp. funding), accountability for statements/actions, increased involvement in politics by the people that get the rough end of the stick and above all improved education for all.

  3. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

    Jacob Rees-Mogg is on a par with the likes Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc. There are other Tories nearly as bad as him, but to them, he makes Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and Theresa May almost seem like angels.

  4. Kenny Smith says:

    Let me some him up in a couple of short words heard all the time in Glasgow ” pure fud ”

    How the hell there’s a Scot willing to prop up these numpties is beyond me. Ruth is no better than the wretched souls down there. The English electorate baffle me but Scots that vote Tory eh? Just can’t get my head round it

  5. Agatha Cat says:

    I’m surprised to see Rees-Moog including among the upper class. He may like to play an eccentric Lordling from Downton Abbey, but he’s a working person from a working family. Like Thatcher, Trump, Corbyn or Putin. No blue blood there, not that it’s got much to recommend itself anyway.

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