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Could Jacob Rees-Mogg really be the saviour of the Conservative Party?

Could Jacob Rees-Mogg really be the saviour of the Conservative Party?

Two years ago, the idea that a man famed for taking his nanny canvassing, using the word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ in the House of Commons, and who is regularly referred to as ‘the honourable member for the early twentieth century, could become the next Conservative Party Leader would have been met with derision. But that was before the surprising ascendency of Trump, Macron and Corbyn. Tellingly, the bookies now have Jacob Rees-Mogg as more likely to become the next Conservative Party leader than Boris Johnson and Ruth Davidson, and there has been a flurry of ‘Moggmentum’ articles both for and against his candidacy show just how seriously many are taking the idea.

Critics of Rees-Mogg ironically highlight many of the traits that many Conservative Party activists actually find appealing: he uncompromisingly supports Brexit and the free market (he recently called for the abolition of stamp duty, something many of his detractors jumped on as proof that he is ‘for the rich’), he isn’t afraid to voice unpopular opinions, and doesn’t attempt to hide his privileged roots. In fact, it’s this authenticity which, like Corbyn, is the key to his popularity. As James Delingpole writes in The Spectator “He’s quick on his feet, comfortable in his skin, knows his own mind and is beholden to no man. Having made his fortune as a value investor in emerging markets before becoming an MP, he is in the unusual position of being able to say what exactly he thinks — and from a position of knowledge and experience”.

We shall have to take our business elsewhere.

A post shared by Jacob Rees-Mogg (@jacob_rees_mogg) on

So could Rees-Mogg be the Conservatives’ antidote to Corbyn?  He certainly has significant grassroots support. In a survey for ConservativeHome, Jacob-Rees Mogg was the second most popular option after David Davis to take over as leader – despite voters having to submit his name, rather than it appearing on the dropdown list. Over 23,000 have signed the ‘’ petition. He has legions of online fans (pages such as ‘Middle-Class Memes For Rees-Moggian Teens’ have nearly 50,000 likes), and this is only set to increase, given that he has recently joined both Instagram and Twitter. And given how many people seem to warm to him even when they disagree with his politics (e.g. Jess Phillips MP describes him as “charming and funny, kind, mad and totally himself” and Mhairi Black MP refers to him as “my boyfriend – he’s my favourite”), it seems possible that he could reach out and win over a large proportion of the public.

Despite this, could Rees-Mogg ever realistically become party leader? In short, probably not. The way that the Conservative Party elects their leadership differs significantly from other political parties. For example, Jeremy Corbyn was first able to stand as leader of the Labour Party after securing the nomination of just 35 of his fellow MPs before the Labour membership were able to vote for him. In contrast, Conservative MPs are given the task of voting on candidates until they have whittled them down to a final two. Only then are party members able to vote on them. Conservative MPs are unlikely to put forward such a wildcard who has never held a ministerial role before. Moreover, Heidi Allen MP has already threatened to resign from the party if he ever did become leader, demonstrating the uphill battle that he would face in any leadership campaign.

Sadly, for his supporters, we may never get the chance to find out if Rees-Mogg could be successful in a leadership bid. Even he has ruled it out (for now) stating that “I neither am a candidate, nor wish to be one… Nor is this some clever plan to seek other office; if it were, it would have been scotched some weeks ago when it was suggested to the PM, who giggled in response rather more than my mother considered tactful”.

But this hasn’t ended speculation. There is clearly an appetite amongst the grassroots for something a little bit different from the usual names circulated as Theresa May successors (David Davis, Philip Hammond etc), and for many, Rees-Mogg is a viable alternative. Whatever happens, it is clear that the next leader of the Conservative Party is far from a foregone conclusion.

Public Affairs Top 10: Political Gaffes

Written by Peter Jackson Eastwood & Emily Burditt

In honour of the end of Boris Johnson’s tenure as London Mayor – we are celebrating the capital’s favourite accident-prone politician with our top 10 political gaffes. Get behind the sofa folks…

  1. Ken Livingstone – EVERYTHING:

Referendum pandemonium. Cameron’s leadership and taxes under intense scrutiny. The Conservative Party bursting at the seams. Opportunity not just knocking on the door for Labour to really make a statement, but demolishing said door with a wrecking ball.

Step forward Ken Livingstone. He certainly made a statement, he made several in fact. And then he hid in a disabled toilet while the press shouted questions about Hitler through the door. Either Ken is the worst politician of all time, or the greatest Tory sleeper agent in history.


  1. David Cameron forgetting which football team he supports:

As we all know, Dave’s best characteristic is that he is a true man of the people. He loves a pint, he loves mucking in with the rest of us and he is always regaling his mate Jezza with classic banter in PMQ’s (Do up your tie Jez you bloody rascal!).

But shockingly, startlingly and appallingly, geezer Dave was caught out when talking about the footy (say it ain’t so?!). He implored a crowd to get behind his beloved West Ham, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that he is actually an Aston Villa fan. Not to worry Davey, we’ve all slipped up down the watering hole at some point – it’s just a shame this was during a televised speech in the middle of the day. Stick to politics.


  1. Dick Cheney accidentally shooting a man

Americans like guns. The right to bear arms (no family guy jokes please) is an integral element of their constitution and is often a crucial factor in presidential races. George Bush and his administration really liked guns (and explosives, and fighter planes, and tanks, and invasions, and wars, but let’s not get off track).

Given all of these facts, it’s really no surprise to know that former vice president Cheney shot a man…by accident. In events eerily similar to the invasion of Iraq, Cheney was trying to shoot a quail, but succeeded only in spraying lead into a 78-year-old Texas attorney’s face, neck and upper torso. The 78-year-old suffered a heart attack, but thankfully pulled through. For better or for worse, there is no footage of the incident.


  1. Boris Johnson: Anywhere Boris has ever been with a camera present:

Even if you are of the opinion that our glorious capital will not miss Boris’s policies, heavens above will we miss the gaffes, and he has had hundreds during his time as London Mayor (or ‘Operation Juddering Climax’). It’s almost impossible to narrow them down, but here are a couple of gems:

  • Boris providing a metaphor for his own mayor-ship of London by kitting himself out in full British attire, beginning his zip-wire journey in a wave of glory and excitement before getting stuck, achieving nothing but looking like a lovable plonker the whole while.boris zipwire
  • Boris picking the ball up deep, showing a lovely step and burst of acceleration to move towards the try-line and then utterly annihilating a tiny child who dared to get in his way. Bravo. And Boris has history with rugby tackles too… boris charging


  1. Simon Danczuk: 1966 – present.

Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Here are two events that took place in 1966. Read into them what you will, but please retain the notion of ‘opposites’ as you do:

  • In the proudest moment in our nation’s sporting history, England defeated West Germany 4-2 and Bobby Moore held aloft the football World Cup (legend has it David Cameron was supporting France for this particular match).
  • Simon Danczuk, he of sexting a 17-year-old girl and generally doing his damnedest to embarrass the labour party fame, was born.


  1. Nick Clegg slagging off his shadow cabinet to Danny Alexander and being overheard by a journo

 A national newspaper editor recently described Nick Clegg as ‘one of the best communicators I have met in politics’. High praise indeed, and Clegg has always had a talent for conveying a message (then again – he has been blessed with some outstanding aides over the years). In this instance, the clarity of Clegg’s message didn’t do him much good.

As he slaughtered his frontbench team in conversation with Danny Alexander on a flight to London from Inverness, he was blissfully unaware of the journalist sat in the row in front of him. Steve Webb received a particularly vicious review: “He’s a problem, I can’t stand the man…useless.”

The power behind the throne...

PHA’s very own Tim Snowball

  1. Ed Milliband stars in “The Sor-Ed in the Stone”:

Ed Miliband seems like a thoroughly likeable chap but when it comes to dealing with the media he will never be as cool and composed as many of his counterparts. More Mr Bean than James Bond when on camera, it felt almost cruel watching the media tear strips off of him week after week.

That said, the Ed Stone really was unforgivable. Less Moses, more Oh God No-(ses). We could say that Ed’s campaign to become prime minister never recovered, but did it ever really get going? It was just one Milli-bad stunt after another.


  1. Neil Kinnock falling into the sea with his wife:

 I have to admit that I do like the concept behind this. It’s a golden picture opportunity. A politician and his wife, laughing and smiling as they walk across Brighton beach – they’re just like the rest of us!

Sadly, the execution is found wanting. Firstly, it’s bloody Brighton beach which means stones and volatile weather. Secondly, walking on the beach is not the same thing as walking backwards towards an oncoming wave. Sorry Neil, but you got exactly what you deserved. kinnock


  1. Nigel Farage resigning and un-resigning: 

Mr Farage – that poncy chap that everyone’s favourite footy hooligan Big Dave was talking about the other day – loves to talk about England and English values. And what does that invoke? St George? Knights? Honour and chivalry? Such laudable sentiments, I can almost feel my heart rising and Jerusalem ringing in my ears.

Perhaps this deeply-imbued spirit is what inspired Nigel to tender his resignation as UKIP leader after the election. This was the ultimate self-sacrifice, for the good of the party. Dear, brave Nigel! That is until he un-resigned three days later and carried on his merry way as UKIP’s commander-in-chief. Bizarre, embarrassing and a bit rubbish. farage



  1. When Gordon Brown revealed what he really thought of the electorate:

Ah, yet another Labour prime ministerial own goal – it’s almost as if they are actively doing everything in their power to ensure that they are never elected.

So, let’s break this one down – you have an image problem. It is also election time. Despite a reputation as a fiercely competent and experienced politician, you inspire little love from the British people. It’s time for a brand Brown revamp. You need to show your kinder, gentler side and gradually, maybe you can bring the public on side.

Sounds easy, right? Of course it does. Unless you’re Gordon Brown, in which case you call a little old lady a bigot and, just for good measure, make sure that someone records you doing it. There are PR own goals, and then there are PR own goals and as Dave would say: “That’s a three pointer!” gillian duffy


The London Mayoral Elections: What to Expect

London Mayoral Election

Image courtesy of Secretlondon123 on Flickr

On 5 May London goes to the polls and will elect a new Mayor of London. So far Londoners have remained largely apathetic to the ongoing campaigns. Overshadowed by the hype surrounding the EU referendum (held just a month later), and lacking the larger than life personalities of previous mayoral elections (Boris and Ken, anyone?) many Londoners have so far failed to be inspired.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate and MP for Tooting, looks on course to win the Mayoralty comfortably. However, rather than voting for him personally, polling suggests that Londoners are making their decision based on pre-existing party allegiances.

Turnout could therefore bring about surprises: it is expected to be significantly lower than in previous elections, (the record turnout was 45% in 2008), and a low turnout could favour the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith.

Despite this, the job of Mayor of London is an important one, and shouldn’t be underestimated. The Mayor runs an economy bigger than most European countries, with a budget bigger than most Government departments. He is responsible for many of the things most important to Londoners, such as TFL, London policing, housing and the environment. Because of this, it is well worth Londoners, and London’s businesses, engaging in the process of electing their mayor and understanding what a Zac or Sadiq victory could mean for them.

Sadiq Khan is a former human rights solicitor who is proud of his London roots. He never fails to mention that his dad was a bus driver, and this down to earth image has contributed to Londoner’s finding him to be easier to identify with than his Tory rival.

Sadiq’s flagship policies have included freezing TFL fares at 2016 prices until 2020, setting a target that 50% of homes being built should be affordable, and making London safer. He has also said that he wants to be the most pro-business mayor yet, putting him at odds with the Labour Party’s current image under Corbyn.

Sadiq is more media savvy than Zac but has been criticised as being ‘policy-lite’ notably being unable to account for the £1.9 bn blackhole in his transport budget, and changing his position on airport expansion.

Zac was also born in London, but in completely differing circumstances. His father is billionaire James Goldsmith, and he attended Eton College before becoming editor of Ecologist Magazine.

Despite being elected as the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Zac is notably more liberal than most of his colleagues – he is passionate about environmentalism and direct democracy (he even ran a referendum in his constituency to ask for his constituent’s consent for him to run to become Mayor of London).

Zac has promised to double new home building in London to 50,000 per year by 2020, to create half a million more jobs, and to protect green spaces. Controversially for a city as outward facing as London, he is in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

In terms of what a Goldsmith/Khan mayoralty will mean for business, both candidates have been determined to stress how pro-business they are. Sadiq has pledged to be “the most pro-business mayor yet”, stressing his opposition to Corbyn’s anti-business image. Amongst his key policies, he has said that he will involve businesses in decision making on key issues, will challenge visa rules to allow businesses to bring in top talent from abroad, and will seek additional fundraising powers from the Government for major infrastructure projects.

However, it is Zac who will be seen as the safer hands in this area, with Britain having a Conservative Government until at least 2020, allowing him to work more naturally with Downing Street. This was a point that was emphasised recently when Downing Street committed to the devolution of the Overground to TFL, something Zac had been campaigning for. Zac has also pledged to set up a new Business Advisory Group with representatives from the Business community, to fix patchy broadband, and to promote the night time economy.

Although both men are less well known that their predecessors, both candidates are known to stray from the Party line occasionally. Famously, Zac Goldsmith pioneered a stronger Bill to recall MPs against the Conservative Party whips and has been consistently popular in his constituency. Sadiq is one of the Labour MP’s who nominated Corbyn for Party leader, but has since distanced himself from the current Labour leadership. It’s safe to assume that both candidates will be their own man if elected.

Ultimately, Londoners will wake up on May 6th to a new era. Without a strong character like Boris, but with predictions of a global recession approaching as well as possible Brexit on the horizon, who they choose to run the capital is likely to be of great significance.