Monday, August 14, 2017

The wit and the wisdom of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg occupies a unique place in British politics. For the young Conservatives rallying behind semi-ironic online fan clubs such as Moggmentum and Middle Class Memes for Rees-Moggian Teens, he's quite simply the Conservatives' answer to Corbynmania: a darling of the activist grassroots whose exaggerated online persona provides both shield and lance in the joust of online debate.

According to Matthew Parris, this propensity to serve as both a joke and a serious proposition could well translate into genuine leadership prospects.

Responding in today's Telegraph, Rees-Mogg dispelled reports that he is planning to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party, while admitting that Parris' article has given the idea "a spurious veneer of respectability that it does not deserve".

The North East Somerset MP confirmed that he "want[s] to be the servant of the Conservative Party, not its master."

Serious stuff – but it would be wrong to assume the bookish Rees-Mogg is a policy wonk in a double breasted suit. As his various quips and witticisms over the years have shown, this is a man to listen to, whatever the subject of debate...

On the role of the state

“Basically I want people to be able to get on with their lives without the government bossing them about. I’m all in favour of nannies but not the nanny state.”

On Heathrow airport expansion

Rees-Mogg was praised for this riposte delivered to David Dimbleby in an exchange on the BBC's Question Time programme.

JRM: "Heathrow is the most convenient airport in London. I realise that in Slough this may not please everybody. I used to live not a million miles from Slough with the airplanes going over. I must confess they did not prove too bothersome there."

DD: "Eton, is that?"

JRM: "That's absolutely right. I was at school with your son."

On EU judges

“The requirement not to be rude about judges applies only to judges in this country. It does not apply to judges in the EU, so let me be rude about them. Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges”.

The inclusion of this 29-letter word made headlines for being the then longest word ever recorded in Hansard. He later said of the word, “it’s not too bad, all it means is the action or habit of estimating as worthless.”

On Donald Trump

“He’s friends with Mr [Piers] Morgan and Mr Putin, so he keeps very fine company."

On Michel Barnier

Asked by Nigel Farage whether Monsier Barnier is “playing with a straight bat”, Rees Mogg retorted: “Well I very much doubt he’s a cricketer, and if he is he plays French cricket which is a rather mutated version of the real thing.”

On proposals for a new pro-EU centrist party

“What’s so peculiar about this new party is that it wants to call itself the Democrats and the first thing it wishes to do is overturn a democratic decision. Their proposed name ought to be the Oligarchs.”

On moving with the times

“The right to bear arms is in our own Bill of Rights, where there is the right to bear arms because of the need to maintain a Protestant militia—which fortunately has gone out of fashion in more modern times.”

On House of Commons etiquette

Rees-Mogg caused guffaws in Parliament earlier this year, when he politely took aim at the length of a Jeremy Corbyn speech: “He said about 10 minutes ago ‘in conclusion’,’” Rees-Mogg joked. “I fear as time goes past he may be in danger of inadvertently having misled the House.”

On entrepreneurialism

“How are we going to revive this economy if we do not encourage the small business man, and the tall business man, too?”

On his popularity with the public

“Popularity in politics is very much here today and gone tomorrow. What I think matters – and I might begin to sound like Tony Benn in this – is the issues and not the personalities."

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