Because it’s silly season, and because the Tories are desperately looking for someone different to lead them into the 2022 election, Jacob Rees-Mogg is being floated as a credible candidate to be the next Conservative leader, and PM.
“Rees-Mogg’s voting record, and which bills he chooses to filibuster, undermine his persona as a loveable toff. He voted against same-sex marriage, has talked out bills to scrap the bedroom tax, teach first aid in schools, and others, voiced support for Donald Trump, and called for his party to collaborate with Ukip.” — Anoosh Chakelian.
There are two main reasons that some on the right want Mogg to lead them into the next election. For some it is a tactical decision, they believe only he can rival the grassroots enthusiasm that Corbyn generated, and in doing so win over the youth vote. Then, for others, they genuinely, like Mogg, and the things he stands for, especially on Brexit. So, let’s start by tackling the first reason for Mogg’s support — the belief he would win against Corbyn.
Source: Flickr / Chatham House
The belief that Mogg would win a significant number of young voters who went for Corbyn is based on a deeply flawed premise — that Corbyn supporters voted for him solely because of his personality. Now, there’s no doubt that Corbyn’s personality — his passion, convictions, and unpolished way of speaking — were central to his success, indeed, they allowed to him succeed in the labour leadership election where Diane Abbott and John McDonnell had previously failed. But, only coupled with socially liberal and mostly progressive policies could Corbyn lead Labour to their best result since 2005.
To believe that Corbyn could have done so well without any of the progressive policies he proposed is nonsensical, yet it is the central tenet to the belief that Rees-Mogg could win over large numbers of Labour voters. For, if Mogg wanted to win a majority at the next election, he would have to do so on the back of a set of extremely regressive policies that no major party has dared to promise — and for good reason to — in the twenty first century.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s voting record is, at best, far from perfect, and at worst, slightly nauseating. He has consistently voted against gay marriage, laws to promote human rights and equality, measures to increase benefits for the ill and disabled, as well as, the right for terminally ill people to end their life. To believe that he could still win youth support on such a platform, based purely on his charm, is based on literally no evidence and is contradictory to basic common sense.
And, what comes off as charm to some, seems more like arrogance, disconnect, sexism and, elitism to others. You may call filibustering a bedroom tax repeal bill and a Sustainable Livestock Bill charming, but the wider electorate undoubtedly won’t.
It can be debated as to what makes a good PM, but most people would like to be led by someone who is down to earth, knows the issues afflicting the nation and, has experience in government — but isn’t a career politician.
Source: Eton College
Yet, Jacob Rees-Mogg has none of these qualities and is often the antithesis to them. He is a caricature of the establishment — born with a level of privilege few could ever wish to have — he went to Eton, spent much of his life working in the City of London, was a fund manager and to top it all off, in 1997 he canvassed a working class community with his nanny — something for which he was widely ridiculed.
He is a caricature of the establishment — born with a level of privilege few could ever wish to have.
Mogg’s election results in the various constituencies he’s contested are mixed, though I’m not a big believer in reading too much into constituency results, as few people vote for a candidate, as opposed to a party. But it is startling that when he did make local headlines for canvassing with his nanny in Central Fife, the Conservatives went on to lose over half of their votes in the constituency compared to the previous election.
Source: Twitter / Peston on Sunday
The fact of the matter is that it’s one thing to have hashtags and memes inspired by you, and it’s another thing to be a credible candidate for Prime Minister. Mogg may have a loyal army of social media supporters, but outside of twitter, there is little appetite for what he offers. If the Tories want to win the next election, they must resist Mogg’s siren song and instead speak to the concerns of working and middle class communities, offer a positive vision to young people — who are on the receiving end of sky high inequality, as well as, appeal to moderate voters, many of whom currently feel politically homeless.🔷