Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people

Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

July 18, 2017
4 min read

No joke: Rees-Mogg with Nigel Farage earlier this month
In recent weeks Jacob Rees-Mogg has been the focus of a bizarre social media campaign of the British right. ‘Mogg-mentum’, an online movement playing on the left’s own Momentum, has chosen to champion Rees-Mogg as a potential future Tory leader. Given the prevailing public mood of discontent, anti-austerity politics, appetite for radical reform and expectation of a better deal for working people, Mogg would seem to be one of the worst-placed figures to take on the leadership of a major party.

It isn’t just that Rees-Mogg is a living embodiment of the British establishment, though he certainly is, but rather that his politics are repulsive and his ideology only furthers the interests of the rich.

In 2013, he came out in favour of collaboration between the Tories and UKIP, calling for an electoral pact between the two parties and arguing that their collaboration was ‘crucial’. Like Nigel Farage, he is a privately-educated eurosceptic with a deep admiration for Thatcher, stating that same year that she was the person he would most like to meet.

Britain’s problems of wage stagnation, soaring inequality, low social mobility and abysmal levels of in-work poverty are direct consequences of austerity and the Thatcherite consensus that Rees-Mogg exemplifies. He even livened up a parliamentary debate about amendments to a local government bill in 2012 with his suggestion that if this was ancient Rome he would propose the deification of the ‘great lady’ Thatcher. That was apparently a joke but it’s a good indication of his attachment to the wing of the Tory Party that most strongly adheres to Thatcher’s principles.

The Thatcher governments’ assault on trade unions and the decline in collective bargaining has played a major part in the subsequent rise in extreme wage inequality. Rees-Mogg certainly isn’t going to be found reversing that trend, championing workers’ rights or railing against low pay. He’s far more likely to be furthering the rights of rogue landlords and hedge fund managers.

His recent defence of austerity emphasised the contribution the rich make to the public coffers and warned against tax rises since there is ‘little room to take more of people’s money’. Given that austerity and the public sector pay cap are at the heart of the growth of the gap between wage-earners and profit-makers in recent years, it seems fair to say Rees-Mogg is no man of the people. It is ironic that some of his supporters see him as the right’s answer to ‘Corbynmania’ and the man to get young people involved in the Conservative Party.

In 2015, Rees-Mogg was one the leaders of the filibuster to kill off Clive Efford’s private member’s bill, which sought to repeal elements of the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act that have accelerated the privatisation of the health service. He has been a key figure in efforts to shift the NHS away from a publicly-run model towards a unaccountable marketised service in which private firms have excessive influence, and has been accused of conflicts of interest over his links to tobacco, oil and gas firms.

Rees-Mogg also spoke at a dinner of the far right Traditional Britain Group, which has called for black people to ‘return to their natural homelands’, in 2013, then said it was just a ‘mistake’.

As a stalwart social conservative and traditionalist, Rees-Mogg’s record on LGBT+ rights is dire. He has voted against same-sex marriage at every stage. He has also consistently voted with the anti-abortion lobby. He is a long-time opponent of the Human Rights Act and backs mass surveillance.