‘Moggmentum’ is turning into ‘Moggmania’ as Jacob Rees-Mogg’s star rises fast. But what is behind his rise to fame?
“I’m a man of the people. Vox populi, vox dei.” That was the response given by Jacob Rees-Mogg when asked by Andrew Neil what class the now Member of Parliament for North-East Somerset saw himself as. It certainly seems as if some people think Jacob can articulate their voice. With numerous campaigns, such as ‘Ready for Mogg’, championing the idea he can be our next Prime Minister, Jacob has sparked – as some have called it – ‘Moggmentum’.
These campaigns have become so popular that Ross Atkinson got a tattoo to show his devotion to the cause. But it’s not just Ross that seems besotted with ‘the Mogg’. In ConservativeHome’s latest poll of Conservative Party Members, Jacob Rees-Mogg came second to David Davis when it came to who the party membership would like to be the next leader of the party after Theresa May. It was remarkable given that Jacob wasn’t initially listed as a contender and so voters had to write his name in specially.
As someone who is Eton and Oxford educated, with asset management and hedge fund experience, Jacob has a background that many have come to despise in the wake of the financial crisis and the spineless jellies that studied PPE and law at Oxford and – somehow – become leaders of this great land.
I might guess that, like Boris Johnson, Jacob would point out that he did not read PPE, rather History (though Boris read Classics). Maybe this is why he recognises that the history and the principles of the people of England have been hard fought for (from Magna Carta onwards) and are worth protecting.
This view has certainly been seen in his Parliamentary career as he invoked the spirit of Shakespeare’s Henry V when calling on the then Prime Minister to “stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood” when negotiating with other European leaders on the failed renegotiation package that David Cameron eventually brought back.
He does though have more than just a knowledge of history. One reason why he is so liked is because he doesn’t appear to be anything that he is not. There is no pretence. This is a trait that is associated with very few politicians but is something that people respect. In an age when some politicians are all things to all men, you know where you stand with Jacob Rees-Mogg.
But it doesn’t stop there. Even if you don’t share the same opinion, he is still one of the most charming people that you will meet in politics. This is well known with regards to the number of television and Youtube appearances he has made with the Labour MP, Jess Phillips. However, it is not just for camera as he is as courteous and considerate in private as he is in public. Whether it be in the Members’ Tea Room in Parliament or out on the streets of Somerset, he treats people with respect. This is something that David Oldroyd-Bolt, a journalist writing for the Spectator, found out when he wrote an article in the Spectator Magazine about Rees-Mogg’s wealth. Jacob sent David a text message soon afterwards thanking him for his work – even if he might not have liked everything that he read in the article.
It is a rare thing in politics that such charm and courtesy is as genuine and pronounced as it is with Mr Rees-Mogg. But he is more than just that. His principles, knowledge and oratorical skills have won him respect in the House of Commons and, given that he also is someone who can claim to “speak for England” (and certainly Somerset), on the main issue of the day – Brexit – he has won support across the country.
If the phrase wasn’t now synonymous with a certain character from the show Veep, I would have said Jacob is the ‘outsider’s insider’. He has the class, charisma, courage and conviction that might be seen as rare in modern day British politics, but is something that the public – especially the Conservative membership – support.