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.
Feminist futures: Red Pepper’s feminist special issue: ● Our bodies, our choice ● Is the future xenofeminist? ● Women and the new unions ● Feminists on the anti-fascist frontline ● Plus: Left politics and the generational divide ● Decolonising museums ● Book reviews ● and much more
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Andrew Smith writes about the campaign against London’s biennial arms fair and ending the worldwide arms trade
Emma Hughes reveals the interests behind an influential UK lobby, the European Azerbaijan Society
Biofuelwatch gave spoof awards to polluters for the ‘biomess’ they’ve made. Oliver Munnion reports
Kara Moses and Tara Clarke explain why they glued themselves to the front door of one of the UK’s most influential public relations firms
This month the sterile steel of Canary Wharf will play host to anti-G8 protests. Daniel Turi of Occupy London gives us the lowdown on the speculators’ skyscrapers
Power company EDF hit the headlines by threatening to sue climate campaigners for £5 million. Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the protesters, explains why they targeted the company