Jacob Rees-Mogg’s witterings in the weirdest newspaper column you’ve never heard of
PUBLISHED: 10:29 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:17 15 November 2019
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STEVE ANGLESEY takes a look at Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Sunday Express column to dig out some of the Moggster’s pearls of wisdom.
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When he is not acting as an unofficial fire marshal, misleading the monarch or testing the Commons upholstery for comfort, Jacob Rees-Mogg is quietly penning (or should that be quilling?) the weirdest newspaper column you've never heard of.
So weird, in fact, that it is not really a column at all. Instead 'Jacob's Weekly Wisdom', which has appeared in the Sunday Express since mid-May, is a "personally selected, thought-provoking quote from history" chosen by "Britain's most learned MP", together with "an explanation as to why it's relevant to the state of the nation today".
Lessons from the likes of Gandhi, Churchill and Mandela, then? Of course not. This is the faux artisto's big chance to educate the proles with bons mots from his pick of modern thinkers, who so far have included the likes of Aristotle, Louis XIV and Sir Francis Drake. You'll be shocked to hear no woman has been quoted yet, while the most contemporary figure to get the nod is Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890.
Whether Rees-Mogg, with his 2.1 degree from Trinity College and his much-derided cod history book The Victorians, actually is Britain's most learned MP is very much open to question. The twin titles of Britain's most pompous and least self-aware MP are very much Jacob's, though, as these extracts from his non-column will prove…
"A soft answer turneth away wrath."
Jacob explains: "Political discourse can be civilised, which eases the soul of the nation." This advice appeared in the Sunday Express of November 6, exactly a week after Rees-Mogg told the Mail On Sunday that Jeremy Corbyn was a "bungling Bolshevik" who would destroy Britain with his "latter-day Marxism and hatred for everything that made our country great".
"The race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong… but time and chance happeneth to them all."
Jacob's take on this quote from the book of Ecclesiastes is: "Nothing can be taken for granted in a general election… hence the only way to avoid a Corbyn government is to vote Tory." Biblical scholars believe this is the first mention in the Old Testament of the dangers of voting Labour.
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
Moggy says of this quote from Shakespeare's Henry IV Pt II: "Ruling has always been difficult and whoever rules will find that there are others who think they could do it better." Oddly, the number of others who think they could do it better seems to have risen since July 24, when Boris Johnson became PM.
"There is nothing more requisite in business than dispatch."
Because why waste time thinking things over carefully when you can just do them? Rees-Mogg adds of this quote from 17th century essayist Joseph Addison: "Macbeth expressed the same thought in a more sanguinary fashion when he said 'if it were done when 'tis done then 'twere well it were done quickly'." And who better to quote than a homicidal madman who kills men, women and children before being beheaded?
"What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord? Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
Jakers says of Henry II's fateful outburst against Thomas A Becket: "This seems to be Jeremy Corbyn's view of Tom Watson but as Henry discovered to his great discomfort, leaders are responsible for the actions of their subordinates." No doubt Boris Johnson felt similar when he heard one of his cabinet saying the Grenfell victims should have used their common sense and fled.
"Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."
Rees-Mogg writes of this quote from Proverbs: "Nothing should be taken for granted." Like, for instance, assuming that being the owner of a plummy voice, the wardrobe of a Victorian undertaker and a Boys' Own big book of clever quotes makes you an effective politician.
"Away with the cant of 'measures not men!' - the idle supposition that it is the harness and not the horses that draw the chariot along… men are everything, measures comparatively nothing."
Jake says he picked this quote from 19th century prime minister George Canning, "because I think it is where we are currently at in British politics."
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Quite right - why bother with sensible processes devised by parliament and the EU when we can blindly put our faith in men like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg?
"About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right."
Jacob writes of this quote from Dr Samuel Johnson: "This great 18th century writer clearly saw that it is wise to trust the people to understand issues they have thought about. So now the British people have had three years to think about Brexit, why not give them a People's Vote?
All in all, to rework a rather more famous and more recent quote than any Jacob Rees-Mogg has offered: Instead of giving us his words of wisdom, shouldn't he just let it be?
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
1. NIGEL FARAGE
Branded a traitor by his own party's Milton Keynes branch, criticised by his EU parliamentary colleague Alexandra Phillips, slammed on the same radio station where he hosts his weekly show and forced to cancel a key Westminster rally… it's been success upon success for the nicotine-stained man-frog since he appeared on the front of the last TNE under the headline "Remain's Secret Weapon"!
Of course, it's all a mere stepping stone for Nigel on his path to either a comfy seat in the Lords or on one of Fox News' sofas in the USA. Farage explained that his decision to stand down candidates was a case of "country before party". Former supporters might reflect that the second syllable of the first word in that quote is superfluous.
2. GRAHAM CUSHWAY
The Brexit Party are still standing in Labour-held Brighton Kemptown, giving locals the chance to vote for the bass player from Stuka Squadron, possibly the first heavy metal act to dress as vampire members of the Luftwaffe.
Former soldier Cushway, who goes by the alias Lord Pyre, has been photographed wearing the death's head SS logo on his tie but a band spokesman explained that was "purely accidental and the result of random early purchases".
Their track One Eyed God King contains the lyrics: "Hear my words that I implant, of blood crusade and racial war, the heathens you invented, the wolves inside the door." But perhaps these too are purely accidental and the result of random early purchases…
3. DARREN SELKUS
The Brexit Party's prospective candidate for Epping Forest, represented by Tory Eleanor Laing, only found out he was being stood down when a member of the public asked why he was still manning a street stall.
Former army captain Selkus wrote on the Conservative Woman blog: "A van driver pulled up next to us and asked what we were doing as he had just heard on the radio we weren't running. After a quick verification online myself and three volunteers put the street stand away."
He added: "I don't understand why Nigel Farage has betrayed my incredible volunteers… I don't understand how you can then have the audacity to ask those supporters and PPCs still to help you campaign." Hmmm... it's almost like Nigel Farage was only in it for himself!
4. GORDON HOFF
Nigel Farage's great capitulation has deprived us of following businessman Hoff, who had been due to contest Sir Peter Bottomley's Worthing West seat for the Brexit Party, at close quarters during the general election.
Part of the 56-year-old's platform was a "fair and sensible immigration scheme", which presumably includes safe passage for Australian-Americans like himself. Hoff was born in the US and worked in San Francisco before relocating to Sydney, Australia. He only moved to the UK in March 2018, nearly two years after the referendum, and describes his British citizenship as "pending".
Speaking on Twitter, Hoff said he was "not a hypocrite" but was "fighting for democracy". Alas, that brave fight has been postponed for now…
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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter