Since winning a first general election majority for 23 years in May 2015, the Conservative Party has been little short of dire having been left to its own devices in government. U-turns, party splits and a never-ending NHS crisis were the aperitifs for the dog’s dinners that were the 2016 Brexit referendum and Theresa May surrendering a slim majority in an election that snatched relative defeat and sheer embarrassment from the jaws of victory.
All the above makes dismal reading, but not as much as the digestif; Jacob Rees-Mogg could be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The recent Conservative Home poll doused fuel on the fire of irrepressible “Moggmentum”. Whether those Tory members who plumped for Rees-Mogg did so having voted out of frustration or imbibing too much warm prosecco over the silly summer, this is a time for sober contemplation, not fantastic flights of fantasy.
Rees-Mogg is not without redeeming features; his didactic, measured communicative style and polite manner is refreshing in the context of our appallingly shrill current-day political discourse. He has a good line in humour and his passionate arguments in favour of Brexit centred on the nation’s sovereignty are infinitely more persuasive than some of the delusional, ill-considered and downright fraudulent rhetoric proffered by fellow Tory Brexiteers. Be that as it may, Rees-Mogg is not the politician to lead the Tories towards their promised land of electoral domination.
One of David Cameron’s achievements was his modernisation of a fusty, parochial party clinging onto the Middle England shires for its votes into a more diverse broad-church of Conservatism, welcoming record numbers of female and BAME MP’s and reaching out to voters all over the country. Unfortunately, Cameron’s good work has unravelled only slightly slower than his premiership since the Brexit referendum.
The bizarre beatification of Rees-Mogg raises the following questions:
- In a country where half of its people claim to have no religion, how can an openly staunch Roman Catholic realistically have any chance of governing one of the most secular countries in the world?
- In a society which has undergone a comprehensive liberalisation of societal attitudes during the last 50 years, how can any Tory seriously regard as a future leader such an incongruous figure that abhorrently places the autonomy and rights of women over their own bodies below that of the religious teachings he slavish follows?
- When public regard for politicians could scarcely plummet further and the need for politicians to be representative of their people they serve has never been more pressing, how can a privately educated, extremely privileged man who became a Tory at 5 years old, politically campaigned with his nanny in a Mercedes and is known as “The Right Honourable Man for the 18th century” be the right person to lead a modern Conservative Party, win back vast swathes of the country where the Tory brand is regarded as poison and successfully harness the rapid technological advances in our globalised world to the United Kingdom’s advantage?
- How can the Conservatives conceive a man who has borne little responsibility in his own life, has not held a political post of significance and has never even changed a nappy despite having six children to be the leader best equipped to deal skilfully with Brexit, a litany of domestic issues, two dangerously unhinged oafs in Pyongyang and the White House and the urgent need to balance and recalibrate the economy in order to drive prosperity for future years?
Unless these questions can be answered whilst assembling a convincing case for Rees-Mogg, all talk of him being the next Tory leader should cease immediately.
If the Conservative Party has learned any lessons at all from the June debacle, it is to accept that it must look elsewhere for its next leader or face a period in the wilderness watching Labour seize power under a Socialist government. Should Rees-Mogg be anointed as the next Tory leader, the floccinaucinihilipilification of the Conservative Party towards the United Kingdom will be as clear as darkness and light.