Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Internet's favourite MP

Jul 6, 2017

Bespectacled, plummy-voiced Tory baffled by his cult following

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Given that he thinks council fine collectors should wear bowler hats and wants guitars banned from Mass, it was no surprise Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up to hospital to welcome his sixth child - appropriately named Sixtus - in a suit and tie.

The photo of Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset since 2010, spread like wildfire on social media, where the arch-conservative Tory has amassed an unusual following.

After a general election shaped by Corbynmania and a Glastonbury Festival dominated by chants of "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn,", you'd be forgiven for a man the Daily Mail dubbed the "poshest man in politics" would be a hard sell on liberal-leaning social media.

But despite displaying every tendency which, on paper, should turn him into a bogeyman - a former Eton boy who voted against gay marriage and for leaving the EU - Twitter and Facebook are obsessed with the eccentric backbencher, nicknamed "the honourable member for the early 20th century".

One Facebook fan page - entitled Middle Class Memes for Rees-Moggian Teens - has more than 30,000 followers, the BBC reports. 

"The electorate is heartily sick of the professional political class," wrote Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail, and in an era when politicians often try their hardest to appear blandly accessible, it's not hard to see the appeal in an MP who is unafraid to be his unapologetically plummy self.

 

One Rees-Mogg trademark which has probably endeared him to voters more than to his colleagues is his penchant for subjecting the Commons to lengthy filibusters.

At a 2012 debate on the Sustainable Livestock Bill, for instance, Rees-Mogg's meandering speech included a mention of "the Empress of Blandings, the only pig in history to win the silver medal at the Shropshire show for three successive years" - a reference to PG Wodehouse's Blandings novels.

Nonetheless, he remains a popular figure on both sides of the aisle. SNP MP Mhairi Black, a vocal anti-Tory well known for her blazing anti-austerity diatribes, has described Rees-Mogg as her "boyfriend" and one of her favourite colleagues. "I could sit and listen to him all day," she told The Guardian

However, his voting record has caused some left-wing commentators to look askance at his online adulation, warning fans not to look beyond his dapper demeanour and charming anachronisms.

Rees-Mogg himself has embraced his online following. "I am a late convert to social media and it's turned out to be great fun," he told the BBC. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-40432921] "We've put up some jolly photographs. You hear a lot about unpleasantness but it's reassuring that there is a lighter touch."

We shall have to take our business elsewhere.

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

Met up with the opposition while out campaigning in Westfield. Fisticuffs were not exchanged.

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

Although his fans frequently call for Rees-Mogg to lead the Conservative party, the man himself is adamant that he sees his cult of personality as being for amusement purposes only. 

"This is all light-hearted banter," he said: "It would be a mistake to let it go to one's head."

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