With his surprising appeal to teens and millennials, Jacob Rees-Mogg could be the perfect antidote to Corbynism.
‘We need to talk about why the internet is falling in love with Jacob Rees-Mogg, because it’s not OK,’ warns a recent post on the Corbynista website The Canary. Its anxiety is not misplaced. Polite, eloquent, witty, well-informed, coherent, principled — Jacob Rees-Mogg is the antithesis of almost every-thing the Labour party stands for under its current populist leadership. And far from putting off voters, it seems to be a winning formula. Even sections of the elusive and generally very left-wing youth vote appear to be warming to the idea that our next prime minister shouldn’t be (alleged) man-of-the-people Corbyn but yet another plummy, Old Etonian millionaire…
This ought to make no sense at all. If there’s one lesson the Conservative party’s strategists have learned from Jeremy Corbyn’s performance in the polls — at the time of writing he has an eight-point lead — it’s that Britain has had enough of conservatism. Actually, the word they use is ‘austerity’ but it amounts to the same thing. So widespread is the panic in the party that even its more fiscally responsible luminaries are coming round to the idea that, from university tuition to the NHS, the only way to beat Corbyn is to talk and spend like socialists.
Suppose you were a Conservative leader hoping to win a stonking majority in your general election campaign, which of these two manifesto propositions do you think would win the most votes?
a) Our energy policy will remain in the clutches of a cabal of vested interests – rent-seeking, crony capitalist shysters; green ideologues with junk-science degrees in Gaia Studies from the University of East Anglia; eco-fascist lobby groups and NGOs; compromised scientists with their snouts in the trough; goose-stepping technocrats; really, really, really dim MPs – ensuring that the landscape continues to be blighted by an ever-greater-proliferation of shimmery solar panels and ginormous bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco-crucifixes.
We remain committed to the Climate Change Act which will cost the UK economy over £300 billion by 2030, costing each household £875 per annum; and also to the Levy Control Framework (LCF) which, combined with carbon taxes, cost the UK £9 billion in 2016 alone. Then we’ll pretend it’s the fault of the greedy energy companies by hammering them with a price cap – thus driving their share prices down (bad luck pensions and investors!), reducing competition and innovation, and signalling that we intend to be a meddling, interventionist government which has no truck with free market principles.
b) We want consumers and businesses to have the cheapest most reliable energy which causes the least damage to wildlife and the environment and which best guarantees Britain’s energy security. To this end we will scrap all market-distorting subsidies, declare a moratorium on renewables – as well as white elephant projects such as the Hinkley Point C Radioactive Money Pit and the even more lunatic proposed Swansea Tidal Lagoon project – and go all-out to exploit Britain’s superabundant shale gas reserves.
We will, furthermore, appoint a Secretary of State for Energy capable of explaining in ways even thick people can understand why it’s all OK, the baby polar bears aren’t going to drown, nor is Lancashire going to vanish into a crevice, nor are Britain’s gardens going to turn into deserts – despite all that toss you heard from the BBC’s resident Old Etonian eco-loon David Shukman on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning.
Well personally I’m going with b).
What we’re going to get with Theresa May’s Continuation Cameron Conservatives, unfortunately, is far likely to be closer to a).
This is a terrible shame for a number of reasons. As a lover of the British countryside, I’m most especially upset about the ongoing Scotlandification of Mid-Wales with more and more ugly wind farms. If ever you needed an argument against devolved government, there’s your case made for you. The troglodytes in the Welsh Assembly who allow this kind of destruction to pass are not fit to run a bath let alone a Principality.
But it’s also sad for political reasons. Prime Minister Theresa May has a once-in-several-generations opportunity successfully and unapologetically to demonstrate – without any credible threat from her excuse for an Opposition – that conservative principles of small government, personal responsibility, and free markets are genuinely the best way of creating a fairer, more prosperous and freer society.
Have you ever wondered why conservatives don’t talk more often about nationalisation of industry, wealth redistribution, affirmative action, the need for higher taxes and more government intervention, Islamophobia, the glories of multiculturalism, the “war on women”, and the urgent need to rein in economic growth in order to give the planet a more sustainable future?
Conservatives don’t talk about these things because they are idle leftist preoccupations which have no place in a political philosophy based on personal responsibility, liberty and empiricism.
Which is why I’m a little puzzled by the latest outburst by Meghan McCain – daughter of US senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain – on the Pivot cable TV talk show Take Part Live.
“I do watch Fox News at night on occasion — and a lot of the time you see people throwing around climate change: ‘Of course climate change isn’t real! This is just a liberal issue! I think this is a cultural issue.”
“If we make this more accessible to people and turn this into a cultural issue meaning, Republicans, you’re not going to be able to hunt and fish as much — which I love doing — if there is no fucking fish to get!”
So another of the many dire consequences of climate change is that there will be no more “fucking fish”. Who knew? Clearly, with her high-level connections Ms McCain must have access to some privileged information since, so far as I’m aware, no serious scientist to date has tried to parlay “fucking fish” into their litany of predicted climate doom. (It’s not like fish – fucking or otherwise – are exactly going to be bothered by rising sea levels, is it?)
Still, Ms McCain is right about one thing. Climate change is, indeed, a “liberal” issue. In polls across the Western world, conservatives have always emerged as much more sceptical about man-made global warming than people on the left.
According to the left’s version of events this is because conservatives are ignorant, out of touch, anti-science and selfishly reluctant to change their greedy, sybaritic lifestyles.
(Hence the cheap shot from McCain’s co-presenter Jacob Soboroff, who said: “Put this shit on a beta tape or on a DVD and send it to all the Republicans without Internet!”)
But actually it’s much simpler than that. Conservatives are sceptical about “climate change” because they sense instinctively that this is a political issue rather than an environmental one – a suspicion given strong credence by the ongoing lack of convincing evidence that recent global warming is in any way catastrophic, unprecedented or significantly man-made.
Saaeda Warsi – aka Baroness Warsi; akaBaroness Token – has announced her resignation from the Cabinet in a style entirely becoming her class, intelligence and sophistication: on Twitter.
Her departure will no doubt come as an enormous relief to the more traditional Conservatives in her party, many of whom felt that Warsi’s appointment to a Cabinet post – even one as meaningless as “Minister for Faith and Communities” had less to do with her brilliance, integrity and raw talent than it did to Cameron’s desperation to get his first Asian Muslim female on the books. One of them once described Baroness Token to me as a classic example of “Never buy the first pony you see.”
If you realised just how totally stuffed we are you wouldn’t waste time getting to the end of this letter. You’d already be outside Number 10 with pitchforks demanding my head on a spike – and you’d be quite right to do so, for I have failed you. My cabinet has failed you. My Coalition government has failed you. And it’s no good our trying to blame the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown administrations for having failed you even more. We are where we are – and where we are is about as dire a place as Britain has ever found itself in in its entire existence.
That includes, let me assure you, even the darkest days of the Second World War. Back then, however bad things might get, we were cushioned by an empire, by America, by a sense of unity and purpose, by a national character defined by resilience, self-reliance, patriotism, decency and an absolute determination – even unto death – never to surrender to tyranny in any form.
Today, none of this applies. Our empire is gone; the US – read Mark Steyn’s brilliant After America – is now owned by China; our national character has been diluted by waves of unchecked immigration and by the sapping of moral and intellectual purpose which comes with decades of ingrained “progressivism”. As for tyranny we’ve already long since surrendered to it. It’s called the EU – and the fact that it has a caring, sharing, equality-loving, nurturing, “communitarian” face does not make it any less dangerous or anti-democratic than the kind of regimes that Louis XIV or Napoleon or Hitler or Stalin were trying to impose on Europe’s once-sovereign peoples. It just makes it more subtle, and sly, and ultimately more effective, that’s all.
Some people will laugh at me for telling you this. They’ll say that I’ve lost my head; that I’m panicking you needlessly. Oh really? And which one of the problems facing us, would you say, was overstated: the fact that the European economy is on the verge of collapse; that Britain currently has a £4.8 trillion debt, which it is nowhere close even to beginning to shave off; that our best ally, America, is in worse shape than we are thanks, not least, to the reckless spending of President Obama; that one in five children have parents who have never been in work; that, thanks to our abysmal, dumbed down, low-expectation schooling we have two generations without literacy, numeracy, or even the beginnings of an understanding of what it might involve to pursue a career which doesn’t depend either on crime or state handouts; that we can no longer afford an effective military; that our police force is so hamstrung by political correctness it is incapable of protecting people or property; that our political class is so utterly remote and ineffectual that voters can scarcely see any point in going to the ballot box any more, for wherever they place the X it won’t make the blindest bit of difference. First came Blair; now you’ve got the Heir To Blair. Nothing has changed; nothing will change until a politician of principle stands up and says: “Enough is enough.”
And that’s why I’m writing this letter to you now. I want, first, to apologise for the disaster I have been since “winning” – or rather “not quite losing” – the last General Election for reasons which were almost entirely the fault of myself and my political advisers.
We took the view – the cowardly, defeatist and wrong view, I now admit – that Britain had grown so irredeemably socialised under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that the only way a Conservative administration could ever regain power was by offering still more of the same (only with a green-tinged blue rosette instead of a red one, to give the punters the illusion they had some kind of democratic choice). The problem with adopting this attitude of “managed decline” – as my ideological soulmate Ted Heath found in the 1970s; and I’m finding now – is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So what’s to be done? The good news that what needs to be done is very, very simple: the exact opposite of what got into us this mess in the first place. And what got us here, is excessive taxation, regulation, and government spending. We need to remember that there are only two kinds of government money: the kind it rips off from taxpayers in the productive sector of the economy; and the kind it borrows at rates of interest which mean it either has to borrow still more money or take still more money off the taxpayer. Either way the result is the same: an economy in which it becomes increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs, traders, small businessmen – the backbone of an economy – to go about their work. If they can’t go about their work then the economy cannot grow. And if the economy cannot grow, the government will need to take still more money from the taxpayer, or borrow still more money (at possibly even higher rates of interest) merely to maintain its current spending levels. The inevitable result is a spiral of decline.
But while the good news is that the remedy is very simple, the bad news is that it will be extremely hard to apply. One of the main reasons for this is the nature of the political class: whether on the Left or what currently passes for the “centre-Right”, its instincts are much the same – always to ask “what more can the Government do to help?” This is the wrong question, for the answer is always the same: more stifling bureaucracy; more parasite-like layers of administration; more regulation; more spending of money that the government simply does not have.
The other main reason is you, the British people. Far too many of you, for far too long have got far too used to the idea that government’s job is to wipe your backsides for you. And it’s not. Not from now on, at any rate. For one thing we can’t afford the paper. For another thing we can’t afford the staff to do something which most of you are perfectly capable of doing for yourselves. It’s a scandalous waste of other people’s money – taxpayer’s money – and the very last thing we need if we’re even to begin to hope to compete in a global economy against places like India and China and Brazil where the work force are perfectly capable of putting in 12 hour days and wiping their own backsides without any expectation that the state’s role is to do their dirty work for them.
That’s why I’m writing to you now to tell you like it is. What I’m hoping is that I’m straight with you, you’ll be straight with me in return. You’ll never again take the soft, easy, head-in-the-sand path of voting for which ever political party offers to bribe you the most with money it doesn’t have. You’ll vote for the one which acknowledges the scale of the problem facing us all and which has the courage and the will to deal with it.
That political party ought, by rights, to be the Conservatives. And perhaps – before I embarked on my misguided quest to “detoxify the brand” – it would have been. But as you may have noticed recently this is no longer case. We have a Justice Secretary more interested in the rights of criminals than law-abiding citizens; we have a Home Secretary who believes that policing should primarily serve the interests of Britain’s senior police officers rather than the citizens they’re supposed to protect; we have a Foreign Secretary – formerly a principled Eurosceptic – who has since done a Portillo and decided that his post-politics employment prospects are better served by selling British interests down the river at every turn, for that way a comfy future on the Euro gravy train lies.
And if you think the Conservative wets in my cabinet are a liability, imagine what it’s like having to govern with Liberal Democrats. We have an Energy and Climate Change Secretary whose primary purpose is to bomb our economy back to the age of the wattle and daub and the coracle; we have a Business Secretary who loathes business; we have a Deputy Prime Minister who doesn’t know what he wants except that it has to be the opposite of whatever Conservatives want otherwise he’ll get torn to pieces by his own party.
This is no way to run a country. It is especially no way to run a country on the brink of a precipice. That is why today I’m going to offer you a clear political choice. I’m scrapping the Coalition, because 2013 is far, far too late to start out on the rescue package which needs to be initiated now. Instead, I’m going to stake my political career and the future of Britain by calling an immediate general election.
After that it’s up to you: liberty or the soft, enervating tyranny of the Left; growth or stagnation; future or no future; jobs or no jobs for your children and grandchildren. You choose.
“The economic crisis could spark a resurgence in the far Right,” warns a senior British government cabinet minister.
Warns? Well he would warn I suppose this guy – Balls is his name and that’s exactly what he talks – being as he’s so mindlessly, instinctively, incorrigeably left wing he makes Joe Stalin sound like Rush Limbaugh.
But speaking for myself I’d say a little bit more far Right is just what the world could do with right now. Our economies would recover more quickly; our kids would be better educated; our wives (qua Mayor of London Boris Johnson) would have larger breasts (if we so chose, though of course it wouldn’t be compulsory for small-but-perfectly-formed-breast-favourers like me); we’d earn more money and live longer and have all the leisure time we needed to do whatever we wanted, be it hunt foxes or smoke cigarettes or drive our 4 x 4s incredibly fast on no-speed-limit motorways or eat live ortolans in truffle and foie gras sandwiches or take long bracing walks in pristine landscapes unsullied by useless wind turbines or anything else we fancied, pretty much, because we’d be free, free, FREE!
Some of you might be wondering where the death camps fit into all this. And the Swastikas.
And the gay-bashing. And the Jew-murdering.
And my answer is: they don’t.
About the only Nazi/fascist thing I can envisage happening in my far-Right paradise – that and the fact that chic, Hugo-Boss-designed uniforms will be perfectly permissible among those who fancy such things – is that the trains will run on time. But that’s all.
You see when I talk about far Right, I don’t mean the caricature “all Conservatives are closet Nazis” version of supposed extreme right-wingery which appears in leftist propaganda from the likes of Mr Balls.
I just mean something a bit more robust than the limp-wristed conservatism currently espoused by a worryingly large number of US Republican and British Tory politicians. I mean real conservatism not “Compassionate Conservatism”, (which isn’t conservatism at all but diluted liberalism.)
Whenever I try explaining this to people (as I do quite a lot because hey, I’m on A Mission) usually their eyes glaze over or they look at me like I’m mad. “What?” they go. “How can you like cool music and be so heavily into freedom and call yourself right wing?”
My friends – I’m presuming you’re reading this because you want to be my friend and not because you think I’m evil and wrong and are just lurking here to annoy me – my friends, it is time that those of us on the right (and those of us who think we, er, might possibly be on the right, but are too scared to admit it, even to ourselves) came out of the closet and started standing up for ourselves and our cause.
Say it loud, say it proud: “I’m right-wing and I’m good and I’m happy in my skin.”
There. Don’t you feel SO much better?
I know I’ve been feeling a lot better, anyway, ever since I started becoming a fully-fledged, unabashed, practising right-winger.
Just recently, as I never tired of my reminding my long-suffering Facebook friends, I did a publicity tour of the US. Well, maybe a tour is too grand a word for it, given that I only stopped off in New York and DC. But I did do lots of talk radio, maybe thirty stations across the US, and just to ram home (so to speak) that gay analogy one more time, I came away feeling rather as my gay friends must have done when they finally plucked up the courage to tell their parents that, um, if they were expecting grandchildren any time soon then maybe it might not be too good an idea to hold their breath. I felt relieved of a terrible burden: the burden that comes of being right wing and forever having to hedge your views with semi-apologies, and nervous circumlocution, and long-winded explanations as to why is that even though you’re right wing your politics spring from the noblest of motives.
When you do the right-wing US talk shows, none of that is necessary. Au contraire. The more unashamedly right-wing you are, the more they love you for it. They take it as a given that being on the right is the right place to be. Which makes a refreshing change from doing pretty much any talk radio show in Britain, let me tell you. Over here – where most talk shows of note are in the control of the instinctively, unthinkingly left liberal BBC – your job as a right-winger is, at best, to provide freak-show amusement value; at worst, to afford prey for a series of carefully prepared traps with leaves on top and ravening tigers lurking in the pit underneath.
Your interviewer’s aim – this applies on TV as much as radio – will be to hold your opinions up to his audience’s righteous contempt by demonstrating that you are one or more of the following: a xenophobe, a racist, a climate-change denier, a Little Englander, a NIMBY, an elitist, a snob, or just a plain evil selfish bastard who doesn’t give a fig for anyone but himself. The BBC doesn’t do this deliberately. (Well, not often). It genuinely sees itself as a model of balance and reasonableness. Unfortunately, though, because it is staffed almost totally by bien-pensants recruited through the media pages of the left-wing Guardian newspaper, a BBC apparatchik’s idea of the centre ground is actually some way towards the political left.
But I have been sidetracked. There will be plenty of time in future blogs to have a go at BBC bias. My point in this inaugural one is to come up with some kind of statement of intent: who I am, what I stand for.
And what I stand for is a lot of things you wouldn’t necessarily associate with people on the right. Some of the things I value, admittedly, are straight down-the-line conservative. I believe in tradition; I go to church (though not nearly as often as maybe I should); I think foxhunting and staghunting are the coolest, most exciting sports ever invented (with grouse-shooting a close second); I believe that the English public school offers the best education in the world; I worship Johnny Cash; I get a terrible, aching, yearning feeling in my heart when I listen to Vaughan Williams’s English folk song suite; I play bridge; I like long country walks; and I’m utterly obsessed with World War II and am never happier than when talking to veterans – or indeed when hanging out with servicemen generally because yes, I do think meanly of myself for not having been a soldier, and I will always envy and admire those who have faced the ultimate test.
But not all my enthusiams are stereotypically right-wing. I’m liberal on recreational drug use, for example. Very liberal – though as I would prefer to put it “classically liberal” or libertarian. I like dance music. Led Zeppelin. Love. Radiohead. DJ Shadow. No seriously, my taste in music is pretty immaculate though I say it myself. And if you follow my recommendations up right, or go to my archive, I promise you, you’re in for many treats. I’m also a sensitive literary type. (Well, I write novels – the current series being set in World War II – which may not be quite the same thing. They’re full of graphic violence, black jokes and dirty sex, which the more straight-laced conservative type might find a bit near the knuckle). I like South Park. And The Simpsons. And culty, arthouse films like Lilya 4 Ever; Adaptation; Brazil and Being John Malkovich. I like Starship Troopers. The Sopranos. Band Of Brothers. Das Boot. And I’m really into vampire movies, so long as they’re evil vampires like in 30 Days Of Night, Salem’s Lot, From Dusk Till Dawn and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and not wussy vegetarian ones designed for girls like in that current teen-vampire film whose name I forget.
Oh and having travelled a lot in Africa, I care about the state of that continent and am fascinated by its people (though I don’t think, pace Bob Geldof and Bono, that the solution lies in bombarding them with aid). And I get on well with black people, yellow people, hispanics and Jews. Even Germans and French, sometimes. I don’t think I’m racist. Well, certainly no more than the next human being. And I have so many gay friends, it has been suggested that I might be a closeted gay myself. Or at least that I’m in denial. Heavily in denial presumably, given that I’m happily married with a wife and three kids.
Anyway, look, fuck it – oh yeah, swearing, that’s another thing I do, which I have to be much more careful about in the US where I know casual swearing is much less prevalent among educated people – I’ve told you quite enough to be going on with. Really, all I wanted to do here apart from offer you a gentle introduction to the kind of thing I do, is come back to that point I was trying to make at the beginning about the fact that being right wing is not the same thing as being a Nazi. Or a fascist. Or any of those other nasty slurs that left-wingers like the Balls man and Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky and the rest like to use against us in order to wriggle out of the need to engage us in honest debate.
And if you want an even more detailed explanation of why right wingers, no matter how extreme, are neither fascists nor Nazis, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent Liberal Fascism. The Nazis were a movement of the left – National Socialists – not the right, and the only reason that today we imagine otherwise is because of a very successful propaganda campaign begun by Joseph Stalin, and continued by his fellow travellers and useful idiots ever since.
Me, I’m a nice guy. I love my family, love nature, like peace and love, and never drown kittens unless it’s strictly necessary. But you know what? Just recently, what with Obamaland and all, I’ve had this wonderful, liberating sense that I no longer need to apologise to my antagonists on the green-tinged liberal-left for who I am and the things for which I stand. There are people, I’ve realised just recently, whom I’m never going to convert through force of argument, no matter how eloquent my delivery nor how indisputable my evidence.
So to all my friends and would-be friends I say: welcome!