But we on the Left have the answer…
Politics has hit a new phase, what was once the consensus politics of the Blair years, has split apart into two very distinct ideological choices. Corbyn, the veteran left-winger originally given a 1 in 200 chance of winning the Labour leadership, trounced his competitors with a bold manifesto of hope, investment, and reclaiming the railways. By putting ideas back on the table not seen in generations, and by getting his message across over an overtly aggressive mainstream media, Corbyn has already caused a political earthquake by stripping the Conservative government of their majority. Polling over 40%, with momentum on his side, a Corbyn government looks imminent, however the Right are responding by matching Labour’s ideological leader with their own – Jacob Rees-Mogg, the gentleman of the 18th century.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is Conservative to his core, an advocate of free markets, small government and little regulation, although some intervention. More than his intellectual ideas, the draw to Mogg is his patriotic old-Britain character. At a time of great social upheaval, Jacob Rees-Mogg is a grounding force for those who want ‘British Culture’, to make a ‘come back’, a caricature of Britain’s aristocratic past with a Queen’s English accent and politeness included. Having become a favorite to take over the Conservative party, and a growing following in the public, Mogg has turned from a joke to a dangerous threat.
Identity politics has played a huge role in the uprising of Mogg, the Left has been pushing progressive ideas on sexuality, gender, and multiculturalism – ideas that core Mogg supporters reject. Riding a backlash against respecting people’s human rights and identity, Mogg’s unashamedly rejection of; abortion, same-sex marriage & PC-culture has gone down well with a growing section small ‘c’ conservative working-class individuals. In the same way Corbyn is praised for his authenticity, so too is Mogg.
To defeat Mogg the Left need to start acting now, merely labelling Mogg as a; racist, a xenophobe, a homophobe, a misogynist, will not only be ineffective – it will embolden his following as the anti-PC backlash continues to grow. At the most, playing identity politics against Mogg will deter voters that are already unlikely to vote for him at all. Unfortunately, we’re already falling into this trap.
The only type of effective identity politics that will damage Mogg is his aristocracy, born into wealth and privilege, Mogg has no concept of graft, sweat and tears it takes to survive in modern Britain. Whilst his appearance and accent has so far won Mogg voters, an interrogation of character and beliefs will reveal he is a man out of step from working people. This side to Mogg was recently most evident when he commented on the existence of food banks; “To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are”. Going on to argue that “the real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn’t tell them.” A complete disconnect from the brutal reality that working families in the UK are just a month from poverty, should they become unemployed.
Damaging as Jacob Rees-Mogg’s outdated social views are, it’s the ideology behind the man that will break him. Just as Communism is widely discredited as a pipedream, the pure Free Market World Mogg envisions is equally a dream. The ideology is based on a solid moral compass, the freer the market, the freer the people. Mogg, alongside the likes of James Cleverly, talk about a pure Free Market World, where poverty in Africa, Asia etc. are eliminated through unhindered trade, and freedom of choice. Values that sit well with a devout Catholic, who sometimes remembers his religion commands him to love thy neighbour.
The intellect of Jacob Rees-Mogg falls down when the practicality is questioned.
Unhindered free trade with the US could give UK consumers greater choice, however US food standards are dire. The public already firmly reject the prospect of tinned chlorine-washed chicken. If in doubt, Google ‘Sweet Sue Chicken”, and recoil in horror.
Unhindered free trade with China would destroy British industry. Last year China was accused of ‘dumping’ steel into EU markets, a practice that involves huge government subsidies to sell steel at a loss, forcing competitors around the World to collapse. A strong unified response was required at an EU-level to oppose Chinese steel dumping, this was rejected by the Conservative government, with devastating effects to our steel industry. The Mogg’s will tell you that cheaper steel will lead to cheaper products, but they don’t care if that comes at the price of strategically important British production, or at the cost of jobs in industrial towns/cities reliant on industry for their local economy.
Unhindered free trade with Africa has the potential to see wealth soar in deprived nations, and lift millions out of poverty. The moral case is strong here, some Brexiteers even go as far to pretend they are against EU migration because it discriminates against migration from Africa. Let’s be clear, this is virtue signaling, there has been no tangible effort to boost African migration to the UK by these same Tory MPs.
Reality hits harshest when we consider the following; throughout the Brexit campaign we were told of two directly opposing situations. The first was that Brexit will drop food and clothing prices around UK markets, as cheap free-trade imports from developing nations could slash prices up to 30%, 40%, 50%! The second, and contradictory stance, was that post-Brexit British farmers, fishermen and British jobs will not only be protected, but they will all boom with new opportunities.
In the UK we expect a living wage, we have strong employment protections and human rights, we also have a growing respect for the environment around us. To enjoy the discounted products promised by the Free Market dream, UK farmers, workers and industry would collapse under the competition. Our developed nation can’t compete with the low-cost labour, zero regulation, and human rights abuses that fuel the cheap products Mogg would flood the UK with. In a sense this is the Achilles heel, are UK workers prepared to lay down their jobs to support the Free Market pipedream? I suspect not.
The politics of Jacob Rees-Mogg is on a collision course with reality, as protectionism is the word of the day.