This article is from the July 2012 issue of Total Politics
Why put Jacob Rees-Mogg on the cover of this issue? Because he is the most distinctive MP in Parliament.
The double-breasted suit wrapped around that wiry 6ft 3” frame, the round-lensed glasses, the chaise longue pose he adopts in the Commons chamber – here is a man who could sit down in the Carlton Club in 1922 and happily discuss ousting Austen Chamberlain as Conservative leader without having to change his mannerisms one iota.
Rees-Mogg was already a cult figure before his election in 2010. Ali G mocked him back in the late 1990s and, as you will find out in Rob Wilson’s interview on p54, the story about him campaigning with a nanny in a Bentley is already apocryphal legend. Since the moment he first draped himself in his favourite corner of the House of Commons, the MP for North East Somerset has become a star.
He alone would discuss the Latin derivation of the word floccinaucinihilipilification on the BBC and then explain it hadn’t occurred to him to use a shorter word. Not put off by the often-empty chamber, Rees-Mogg will reach back into history to illustrate his points. Why not praise the treatment of an MP thrown in the Tower for criticising Elizabeth I?
The easy conclusion to draw is that Rees-Mogg is simply a fun addition to the Conservative ranks. Unfailingly polite to all, he is a welcome oddity in 21st century British politics. But Rees-Mogg could be much more than that. As fellow Conservative MP Wilson puts it, he is “adored by his colleagues”.
They appreciate his traditional Toryism and belief that following these principles, and rejecting modernisation, will result in electoral victories. If Rees-Mogg wants it, he could become a very powerful backbench figure.
Call it the ‘Boris effect’. As we know from the London mayor, English eccentricity reaches parts of the public other politicians can’t. Instead of downplaying the Eton and Oxford background as David Cameron feels he must, Rees-Mogg happily lives up to our stereotypes of ‘toffness’.
Only two years into his career as an MP, he is already reaching for national treasure status.
Ben Duckworth • Editor | email@example.com