My thoughts on Jacob Rees-Mogg

jacob rees-mogg

I’ve noticed that there’s a rising star shining within the Conservative Party, and to my surprise it’s Jacob Rees-Mogg, the whimsically anachronistic MP from North East Somerset. Recently he’s been gaining in popularity thanks to a grassroots online campaign called #Moggmentum, which seems to be an emerging right-wing equivalent of the kind of grassroots support that swept Jeremy Corbyn into power as leader of the opposition.

Where is his support coming from? Primarily from the Internet of course. He’s been a viral sensation among the right for about five years, attaining viral status through his use of the word “floccinaucinihilipilification”. Since then he’s won himself a loyal following through his gentlemanly attitude and his dry English wit. He also made his name as a supporter of the Leave campaign in last year’s referendum, and now you will find plenty of Rees-Mogg moments on YouTube, which individual views for each video typically reaching the tens of thousands. If that’s not enough, in the wake of Theresa May’s weakness, there’s an unofficial campaign to get Jacob Rees-Mogg to become leader of the Conservative Party, and thus become Prime Minister.

The momentum appears to be having results. It used to be that Boris Johnson or David Davis would be the most likely person to succeed Theresa May if she were to resign, or if a leadership contest were held soon. Recently, however, he is becoming the new favourite to potentially succeed Theresa May. The betting odds for him becoming leader have also gotten better. On PaddyPower he currently has a 10/1 chance of becoming leader (putting him in 4th place, behind Boris Johnson and Phillip Hammond), and according to Oddschecker, the outlook is similar across the board.

So, what do I think of him? I kind of like him. He composes himself very well in debates, he always speaks politely, and he has mostly sensible positions on the important issues, coming from a conservative background of course. He’s a breath of fresh air compared to most politicians in this country. A sane alternative to Chairman May, the Corbynistas (along with their meaner and uglier politics), and the establishment Tories (indeed, Rees-Mogg seems to have more in common with UKIP than the Tories). Compared to Theresa May, I think he would be a superior leader. He the “strong and stable” conservative that May acted like she was throughout her whole campaign, but unlike May, he can hold his own in a debate, and he’s willing to debate on national TV.

As for his political views, he seems to be a bit more conservative than the establishment conservatives. I firmly agree with him on Brexit, and I agree with his support of the DUP deal (which was ultimately based on pragmatism). He has also said that, on the issue of climate change, he would prefer solutions that don’t hinder technological progress, and the way see it, that could mean he’s open to letting the free market solve it. The main thing I disagree with him on is his opposition to the legalisation of gay marriage. He voted against the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act of 2013, and his main reasoning is simply because he was a Catholic, and he felt it was a matter of “what is sacrament”. It’s a stupid argument against gay marriage, but I’m willing to let his stance of gay marriage slide for two reasons. Firstly, gay marriage is an irrelevant topic because the argument is over. Gay marriage is legal in Britain and nobody has any real argument against it. Secondly, the way I see it, if Rees-Mogg does become leader of the Tories, he may eventually have to moderate his own public position on the matter.

I’m also concerned with the idea of another old-fashioned Etonian running the Tory party, which has been dogged by a nasty reputation as a party of Etonians for a long time, and David Cameron’s tenure only exacerbated this. However, I think Rees-Mogg will get by the same way he became a viral sensation, through the way he composes himself in debates and on public appearances. It also helps that he’s actually attracting potential voters. He may very well be the kryptonite to Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of victory in the next election, possibly because he talks to people instead of talking down to them. An actually right-wing leader of the party, which Rees-Mogg would be, would present an actual alternative to Corbynite socialism, one that the voters could believe in.

Of course, this is all presumption. In politics things have a nasty habit of changing when you least expect it. But I think it’s possible, and at any rate I would be in favour of Jacob Rees-Mogg leading the Tory party, not least because his growing popularity is spooking the left. Sites like The Canary and The New Statesman are apparently struggling to comprehend Rees-Mogg’s popularity, and are quick to demonise #Moggmentum as a “cult of personality”. And I suppose Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t have a cult of personality. Corbyn has the biggest cult of personality in British politics. Nobody on the left dares question the messianic cult of personality surrounding Corbyn, but if somebody on the right has that kind of support, somehow that disturbs them. That tells me that Rees-Mogg is the perfect candidate to lead the Tory party. Not only does he actually believe in Brexit, but he also has far more personality than the Maybot could ever offer, and his popularity upsets the right amount of people. I don’t think it’s likely he’ll lead the party, but I hope this #Moggmentum lasts longer than just a few months.

Why Theresa May is done for

For better or worse, Theresa May managed to survive the calamitous failure of her 2017 election campaign, which led to her leading a minority government propped up by the DUP. I have to give her credit for at least managing to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of power, but she should enjoy her marginal success while it lasts. After this failure of an election campaign, her career may as well be over. After this campaign, she has weakened her hand significantly, and in a minority government, she has lost all authority and credibility that she barely had before then.

How is she doomed? Well for starters, she basically killed her own campaign. She set out to commit blue murder on the opposition, but she ended up shooting herself in the foot instead. All the more damning was that she practically convinced her fellow Tories that she had it in the bag. They were hoping that she would lead them back into a large majority, giving them the mandate they need to do whatever they wanted. Now that she failed, I imagine that there are now a number of Tory MP’s looking for her head on a silver platter.

There’s already talk of a possible leadership contest in the near future. It’s mainly speculation, but it’s not entirely groundless. Now that Theresa May appears to have been weakened, it’s likely that other Tory MPs may try to undermine her, and if the time is right, they might launch a leadership coup against her, just like Labour’s MP’s tried to with Jeremy Corbyn just last year. It’s not an incredibly likely scenario, but it’s not impossible.

The way I see it, even if Theresa May survives the rest of the year in Downing Street, she’ll basically spend what I assume will be her final term lurching from one crisis to another until she is eventually either taken down, or loses the election to Labour, which I believe they will because from here on out the people will see the Tories as emperors with no clothes. The legitimacy of the Tories has been undermined so badly that the stench of failure will haunt the next government.

And then there’s the European question. In this election, the Tories have drawn blood, and like the sharks that they are, the EU leaders will likely smell that weakness, and attempt to exploit that. If Theresa May were somehow able to hardball the EU despite her weakened position, it could perhaps restore people’s faith in her, and that might translate into better electoral performance. However, there will be Tory MP’s who don’t like her approach to Brexit, some of them may have been re-elected.

Of course, even with her successes, she will be remembered for this year’s seismic election, and by extension, her failure to campaign, which has exposed her failure as a campaigner, but also her arrogance. She honestly believed that the election was her’s to win, and that the people would accept that either vote for her and give her a strong majority or we’d have a coalition of chaos. Well as the old saying goes, pride goes before destruction, and in the end, the arrogance of a politician or a party will inevitably be punished by the electorate. In fact, the Tories did so badly that it makes Diane Abbott look more competent by comparison (incidentally, she was re-elected by her constituents in a landslide).

For me, there is really no other way of looking at Theresa May’s career other than through such a pessimistic lens, because that’s the truth. She’s over. She’s overplayed her hand, she’s weakened her own party, and she may well have crippled Brexit, while handing power to her opposition. At this rate, she’s doomed. If she manages to stay in power for the rest of the 2010’s, that in itself will be an accomplishment, but she will perhaps be remembered as one of the worst Prime Ministers in history, single-handedly alienating everyone that she could. As for Brexit, this is perhaps the best result that the slimy pro-European Tories could hope for, and they will have the opportunity to do to her what they did to Margaret Thatcher in 1990.

How could the Tories screw this up?

theresa may

When Theresa May first called the election, it seemed as if she was unbeatable. You have the Prime Minister willing to carry out a hard Brexit as the people demanded, leading the Conservative Party against an openly Marxist Labour Party that is increasingly out of touch with the working class. Early polls showed the Conservatives with a 20-point lead over the failing Labour Party. Experts estimated that the Labour party would be left with only 180 seats, and that’s just being generous. But ever since the Tory manifesto launched, the Tories have been sliding further down the polls, with Labour rising and the Tories’ lead being slashed. Now there’s talk of the possibility of another hung parliament, or worse, Jeremy Corbyn taking power.

My question to Theresa May is this – how could she fuck it up? She had a spotless election that the Tories were guaranteed to win as long as they stuck to Brexit as the main issue. She could do absolutely nothing and still win. Then she called to repeal the ban on fox hunting, which most people in the country still want banned. And then there’s the dementia tax fiasco, which saw her u-turn as soon as things looked ugly for her. And then she released her manifesto, which showcased just how vampiric the one-nation Tories could be, and capped it all off by confirming that Theresa May is coming after the internet. In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t comment earlier.

Up until then I was with Tories. I was even willing to look past some of their left-lurching economic policies in the name of securing Brexit. Now I question whether or not I can even bring myself to vote Tory because it would mean endorsing her platform of internet censorship. She’s alienating young people like myself, and she doesn’t seem to care. It’s almost as if she wants to screw up the election so that she doesn’t have to deliver Brexit, and so this is an opportunity to walk away from her responsibilities as Prime Minister. As for my voting intentions, I’m mulling over either voting UKIP (because I think their policies actually make sense), or spoiling my ballot in protest, signing the Libertarian Party instead. Those are the only two honest options I can think of.

What really baffles me is the idea that Labour is actually rising in the polls. Are the Tories so bad that people are willing to vote for communists instead? Is the government so incapable of running an election campaign that it could lose to complete and total moron? Is this the state of British politics as we know it? I would have thought that Corbyn’s weakness on defence and foreign policy would have hindered his rise, but it seems that Theresa May’s ineptitude on social care, and the many other errors in her manifesto, have helped Labour. As the old saying goes – oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.

Although I might not vote Tory anymore, I still hope that the Conservative Party manages to win the election, because as I have said before, Theresa May has demonstrated that she is the only candidate capable of delivering Brexit properly. I would trust Paul Nuttall to do the same if UKIP were actually electable. As frustrated as I am with the Tories, I still believe they can win this election.

For starters, the media abhors a vacuum, and election campaigns are famously dull, with this election being the dullest of them all. The media hungers for a big buzz, and what better shock for the readers than the idea of an open Marxist being elected to the position of Prime Minister. Second, I think the idea that Corbyn may actually win the election would spur most or all of the right-wingers into voting Conservative en masse just to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of power. In fact, that may very well be the reason why it will be impossible for UKIP to gain a seat. I also believe that the elderly voters will hand the Tories a victory. After all, they lived through the time when Corbyn’s brand of socialism was actually in effect, and would vote Conservative to ensure that their grandchildren don’t have to go through what they did in the 1970’s.

Lastly, I think the polls are being skewed again. What we’re seeing with Labour’s rise in the polls is exactly the same as what was happening with the EU referendum. Thanks to the social stigma surrounding the Leave vote, many people, when asked by pollsters about their voting intentions, lied to them about voting Remain in order to not look like the “undesirables” of British society. When Britain went to the ballot box, however, nobody could judge them for how they would vote, and 52% of people who turned out voted to Leave. I think the same thing will happen here. After the Tory manifesto was released, more people started telling the polls they wanted to vote Labour in order to look good, and when it’s time to vote, most people will inevitably vote Tory. Given the alternative, I can only hope that is to be the case.

A lot of people, including myself, were panicking when the press started reporting of the Tories’ fall in the polls, and we had every right to. However, I am confident that, despite how frustrating the Tory campaign has been, the Tories will still win. Perhaps they’ll do better than we thought they would, and return a three-figure majority not seen since the days of Tony Blair. Of course I’m being an idealist, but I don’t have to be one to assume that the Tories can still defeat Labour, and stop the return of 70’s-style socialism.

Blue Labour is not a new phenomenon

postwarcons

The modern Tories are often criticised by some in the right because they aren’t truly right-wing. In fact, it can be said that the modern Tory party has become more socialist than conservative. Nowhere is this criticism more pronounced than when applied to Theresa May, the sitting Tory Prime Minister who opened her premiership with an emphasis on social justice. On economic policy, she’s pretty much a left-leaning Tory cut from the same cloth as most of the party, and many have noted that she has pilfered her platform from what used to be Ed Miliband’s Labour manifesto.

Some have taken to calling this Blue Labour, and in this regard, I agree, though I think this is one of those times where it’s important to learn some history. While Theresa May’s leftward lurching manifesto is pretty much the right-wing version of a typical Labour manifesto, it’s important that the Blue Labour attitude that today’s Tory party embodies has been around for a very long time. In fact, the official name for this brand of right-wing socialism is “one-nation Toryism”. This has been the policy of every post-war Tory PM except Margaret Thatcher, and this is because it stems from the paternalistic worldview that many Tories hold in regards to society.

The Tories have always been the party of the owning class, but contrary to what most people may believe, the old Tories never believed in capitalism. This is evidenced by Harold Macmillian (who would later become PM in 1957), when he insisted that Toryism as an ideology “has always been a form of paternal socialism. Similarly, another future PM named Anthony Eden made the Tory’s opposition to capitalism clear at the 1947 Conservative Party Conference:

“We are not a party of unbridled, brutal capitalism and never have been. We are not the children of the laissez-faire school. We opposed them decade after decade.”

The reason they despised capitalism was because it went against their own view of how society should be ordered. In their worldview, your standing in life was something you were simply born into. You were rich because your parents were rich, you were poor because your parents were poor, and your children would more than likely go down the same route as you will. Capitalism challenged that idea. In capitalism it doesn’t matter how you were born, because you earn success through your own merits, and fall because of your own failings.

To the poor, capitalism presents a path out of poverty, and the old elites resented that. They resented the idea that anyone could become as rich as them, but they were most fearful of the idea that they could lose their wealth and status. Capitalism was a threat to the economic privilege of the wealthy Tories of the olden days, and thus they favoured socialism, a system that, in practice, protects that privilege under the guise of looking after the poor.

The old Tories thought that it was their job, nay, their duty to run the country, and because of their desire to limit the free markets, they ended up agreeing with Labour’s policy of nationalisation, high taxation, high regulation, and a generous welfare state. This was called the “post-war consensus”, which is basically a system of Keynesian socialism with no more than a glimmer of free markets. In the era of the consensus, everything was nationalised, and the welfare state grew until it eventually became unsustainable. Although this consensus began under a Labour government, it was the Tories that truly ushered in the era of consensus-style socialism then ran through to the 1970’s. That was one-nation Toryism in action.

Of course, while the post-war consensus was supposed to give us prosperity after the war, it ended up paralysing the economy by overburdening the state, which by the 1970’s was running out of money because it was paying to keep all the industries going, and the taxpayers were getting less and less able to foot the bill. The consensus was defeated when Margaret Thatcher took power and brought a swift end to nationalisation, putting her at odds with the traditional one-nation Tories. In the end, the EU-loving Tories ousted her from party leadership, and returned to their old ways, and now one-nation Toryism, perhaps the last remnant of consensus-era politics, is the policy of the modern Tory party, as exemplified in the current manifesto.

This Blue Labour philosophy is so entrenched in British conservatism that there really is no right wing in mainstream British politics, and no, UKIP is too weak to count. This part of how the left has come to dominate the narrative in British society, because there is no true right to oppose it, and there hasn’t been since Thatcher lost power. Now it seems like we’re headed for a long reign of protectionism, economic regulations, but at least nationalisation is not on their agenda anymore, all while our civil liberties continue the slow path of erosion. This is Blue Labour in action, but because the alternative is blatant Marxism, it seems this is the only way. Just when we thought they were gone, the days of “There is no alternative” are more alive than ever.

Why I’m voting Conservative in the snap election

theresa may

UPDATE (4/6/2017): These do not represent my current voting intentions, but rather my views at the time of writing the post.

Yesterday, from out of nowhere, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to call a snap general election, which was passed in the House of Commons today, meaning of course that we’ll have yet another round of voting for us beleaguered Brits in about seven weeks time. To be honest, I had a slight suspicion that there might be an early election, but I was taken aback by how soon and sudden this came up. Before that, I decided that if a snap election were to occur, I would vote for the Conservatives, and now that there is a snap election, you probably know where this is going.

Some of you may find this odd. Why would I willingly cast my vote for the party that I spent the past few years excoriating with ceaseless zeal? Well for starters I am not the leftist teenager that I used to be, and I wish I had actually done more research back then too. Second, let’s consider the reality of the political situation in Britain today. Brexit is definitely happening now despite all the establishment’s attempts to stop it, and right now, Theresa May, whatever you may think of her policies, is the only politician with the ability and the will to make it happen.

UKIP is probably closer to my more libertarian positions, but they’re completely useless. Think about it for a moment. The one thing UKIP was founded for, Britain leaving the EU, is already being accomplished under the current government. As long as this is the case, UKIP has no purpose in the political arena, other than potentially stealing Labour seats from the north. In a normal election I suppose I would endorse the UK Libertarian Party, but I don’t think they will have much of an impact in a sudden snap election. Plus, I don’t know anyone running as an MP for the Libertarian Party who I can vote for.

While we’re here, let’s talk about the other parties. I hope nobody tries to convince me to vote for the Liberal Democrats, because they will quickly find it impossible to convince me to vote for the pack of snivelling sell-outs that the Lib Dems. Under Tim Farron, they’ve become a party for social justice warriors, as if the Green Party wasn’t already. I honestly think the Lib Dems want to fail. Their leader is a useless wimp, and they don’t seem to know how to appeal to ordinary voters. And then there’s Labour, the sad socialist club whose leader was practically salivating over the prospect of a snap election, one in which he will undoubtedly be crushed because he is less popular than most British politicians. At this point, they’d do better if they kept Ed Miliband as leader. Even worse are Corbyn’s deluded fans, those larping revolutionaries who will finally get the chance to campaign for their dear leader, lose, then protest the outcome and start a petition to kick the Tories out.

I should reiterate that I don’t actually agree with most of the Tories’ policies. In fact, if I was a Tory, I’d probably be a very crappy Tory. My policies, which would be considered centre-right in America, would probably be considered too far-right for the Conservatives, which I mostly consider to be conservative in name only. The main reason I am voting Conservative in this election is because I know exactly why Theresa May called this election. It’s a move to strengthen her majority, and giver her government democratic legitimacy, all while thinning out the Labour opposition while it’s already weak. In short, I think she wants to attain a larger majority, which will be easier for her to work with while she’s negotiating the Brexit terms with Brussels.

I know full well that the snap election is a political power move on Theresa May’s part, but I am not voting for the Tories on ideological lines. You may remember that I wrote in favour of leaving the EU. Now that we are leaving the EU, this country needs a capable leader who will deliver on the will of the people, and at the moment the only one who can rise to the challenge is Theresa May. I dislike much of her policies, but I think leaving the European Union takes precedent over everything else at the moment, and I want a government that will deliver on its promise. If Theresa May wants her democratic mandate then as far as I’m concerned she can have it. After all, she has thus far demonstrated that she is more than capable of delivering Brexit, while Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party have openly opposed it, and UKIP will do nothing to help, having served its purpose.

I leave you with some predictions for the election in June:

  1. The Tories will win in a landslide victory, increasing their majority by at least 40 seats.
  2. Labour will lose at least 30 seats, and Jeremy Corbyn will either resign or be challenged in a new leadership contest some time in the autumn.
  3. The Lib Dems won’t gain or lose many seats, UKIP will probably steal seats from Labour if they gain any at all.

I doubt that it will be a very exciting campaign however, given how exhausted the general public is when it comes to national politics. One thing I can guarantee is that, after the Tories win again, the left-wing media and the progressive busy-bodies will throw a hissy fit yet again, but this time nobody will care.

However you vote in June’s election, I hope that people won’t pick each other apart over they plan to vote, or are at least less enthused about it than they were in last year’s bitterly divisive referendum campaign.