2007 - 2022

Forgetful Mogg

Left is right, black is white, liberal is illiberal. Welcome to the new politics of Trumpworld UK inc, brought to you by deranged but organised ideologues.

Fast on the back of the Chingford Skinhead’s tale that the ‘real fascism of today comes from the Left’ – in which Norman Tebbit argued that: Britain has no history of fascism beyond the career of Oswald Mosley;  rambling on that Mosley was left-wing, not right-wing, and that his ideas are similar to those of today’s Labour party; before ending with a bizarre tilt at Diane Abbott, Sadiq Khan and the LGBT movement, via a comment about the Garden Bridge, “Let me end… on a lighter note”, writes Tebbit:

“The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has brought the rather charming floral Thames bridge project to a halt… without money the Garden Bridge Trust has now been closed.”

“If only Boris had called it the London Garden Bridge Trust (or LGBT for short), Diane Abbot might have fought to the death to save it.”

This is prime Telegraph, like the Mail for literate Tories, respectable bigotry in inky print.

If the Activate social media wars has thrown us some giggles this week, the rise of the prospect of Jacob Rees-Mogg as a Tory party leader should be taken more seriously.

Tebbit’s intervention is followed by more apologia for Mogg and ‘respectable bigotry’ by Fraser Nelson today and his colleague Isabel Hardman, who in an extraordinary act of sisterhood re-fashions the concept of a ‘glass-ceiling’ as a barrier to an obstacle to politicians with faith climbing to the top of their career (“Can leading politicians get away with opposing gay marriage and abortion?”)

In a country with an upper house stuffed with unelected Bishops this is positively hilarious.

Hardman, joining the throng of pro-Mogg articles on the Spectator, explains to us the real reason why poor Tim Farron had to go: “But the reason Farron didn’t want to be sincere was that he feared the reaction of an illiberal society – and more precisely an illiberal political world – to his beliefs.”

Got it?

In the world of the Spectator and the Telegraph:

The Labour Party are Fascists.
Politicians of faith are persecuted.
Arguing that women who are pregnant through rape should be forced to give birth is unremarkable.

In Hardman’s troubled and confused article she attempts, somehow, to disentangle Mogg’s bigotry against women from his bigotry against homosexuals.

But the problem for Uncle Tomasina writers like Hardman is that the threads of reactionary and bigoted politics are there for all of us to see.

In 1998, Tebbit wrote in a letter to the Telegraph saying that homosexuals should be barred from holding cabinet posts. Commenting on rumours at the time that Peter Mandelson was gay, Tebbit wrote that LGBT people “like Freemasons… should not be in a position to do each other favours”.

Nor is this, as Hardman tries to portray, some kind of proud individualistic streak of authenticity. These views are entirely predictable and distinctly ideological. As Suzanne Moore writes (“Jacob Rees-Mogg isn’t old-fashioned, he’s a thoroughly modern bigot”):

“As the Home Office document leaked this week shows, a British-interests-first ideology is now subsumed fully into the Tory high command. No one should be surprised by this any more than they should be surprised that Rees-Mogg is a class warrior (for his class alone) who has a track record of voting down every socially progressive policy. Far from being “eccentric” or “freethinking”, as the extreme right likes to characterise itself, he embodies their tick-box views: anti-gay marriage; anti-abortion; doesn’t believe in climate-change legislationvotes against any rise in benefits, even for disabled people; supports zero-hours contracts and tuition fees. He supported Trump, although he has since distanced himself. This is pure neocon territory.”

This is pure Culture War.

It’s a phenomenon in which the right and far-right seek to (and often succeed) in shifting the political debate from the economic (on which their policies are palpably failing) to the social and the cultural – setting the dispossessed and brutalised against each other.

Fraser Nelson writes today also in the Telegraph – (“Why the fuss over Rees Mogg’s unremarkable views on abortion? My Telegraph column on liberalism breeding intolerance”):

“Even Jacob Rees-Mogg was surprised when Piers Morgan turned on him on the television sofa. Against abortion, is he? Even in truly grim circumstances? The response was a stutter, and a confession: “I’m afraid so.” Life is sacred, he said, so abortion is morally indefensible. Bingo! A heretic, exposed.”

Well, indeed. I do like the idea of that arch-Lefty Piers Morgan leading the charge, like an English John Pilger.

As the Amnesty Global Insights report outlined, there are new areas and forums for attacks on women participating in public life (“Unsocial Media”). It is part of a continuum.

In the world of Nelson and Tebbit Hardman and others a way of life is under attack. To an extent it is. In 2015 Ireland became the first country in there world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. Basic tenets of feminist thinking have become assumed as part of mainstream headspace as basic human rights by most of the adult population – even if they are not a reality. The emergence of Corbyn (despite his many flaws) and a newly articulate left policy agenda in Scotland, has left these relics and throwbacks in apoplexy. Their reaction is likely to be angry, bitter and backed by powerful interests as they attempt to protect the world they have create and inhabit at the public cost.

Religious figures hiding their toxic hate-filled politics behind their faith; women defending attacks on other women; open attacks on gay people and minorities like gypsies; a language being twisted out of control to mean the opposite of what it intends; a re-writing of history. Sound familiar?

Good Morning Britain.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Catriona Grigg says:

    There’s a world of difference between saying to kill is wrong and discriminating against people who look or think differently to you. Abortion is still illegal under The Offences Against the Person Act. The baby in the womb deserves protection along with its mother. Both lives count. Abortion is different to any other medical procedure. It takes a life!

    1. MBC says:

      A foetus isn’t a baby. Isn’t a tiny person, but a biologically different organism entirely from a human being, with only the capacity to become human.

      1. Jo says:

        @ MBC
        I am always amused when some will happily think of the contents of the womb as a baby unless a termination is to be carried out. At that point they insist it’s suddenly “not a baby”. It’s very dishonest.

        Personally I think if more people were made to view a termination there would no longer be any doubt there’s a baby involved. They might also benefit from seeing just one example of a foetus/baby surviving the termination process. Those who do survive are left aside until they die because medical staff cannot provide assistance to them. Just a foetus eh?

  2. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

    The Tory Party trying to emulate Germany of the 1930’s – I wonder.

  3. Sandra Patterson says:

    I’d have more respect for Mogg’s assertion that ‘life is sacred’ if he didn’t support nuclear weapons, imperialistic wars and austerity, not to mention voting against the Dubs amendment that sought to aid refugee children. There’s nothing remotely life affirming about his hard right ideology. It is entirely self serving.

    1. Calum MacAskill says:

      As a man, if I think through what it must be like for a woman to be raped then being forced by law to go through with the pregnancy, it must be a life sentence, no parole, a reminder each and every moment of an horrific event.

      Indeed, rape was and is used to this day as a weapon in war.

      People like mogg as far as I can see come from another planet, the only positive effect from his words this week are that others can see him exactly for what he is!

  4. gun ainm says:

    I tend to agree there has been an over reaction to JR-M’s interview on abortion and same sex marriage. I disagree with him but I can cope with that – I am used to it an in an odd way comforted by it. Happily on both these issues the legal position is with me and agin him, and as far as I can tell he’s not actively trying to bring about a change to the law? If he ever did become leader/pm and seek a democratic mandate for change I’d think it unlikely he’d prevail, society would in my view reject that. But we shouldn’t seek to close off debate as some of the more shrill responses (I wouldn’t include the above Mike) have done.

    I have been opposing Tories like him (and their policies) for many years, and while the discourse and dynamic has shifted in the world for the worse of late, that is all the more reason for the left to engage and debate. A polarisation would only benefit the fascists. To quote Umberto Eco ‘our duty is to uncover it (fascism) and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world.’

    I am not complacent on that (especially now) but we do need to allow for a diversity of views even those we find distasteful.

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Well said. There are no absolute right and wrongs here.
      Talk such as “Religious figures hiding their toxic hate-filled politics behind their faith….” is not helpful.

      1. Jo says:

        @ Richard

        I very much agree that the statement about “religious figures hiding their hate-filled politics behind their faith” is not helpful. Indeed I was quite shocked by it. It truly is becoming the norm to these days to attack, ridicule, insult and dismiss any view expressed by someone with spiritual beliefs. I’m sorry Mike chose to include the phrase. The implications, even if unintended, are anything but reassuring.

        1. The problem with our outrage is it isn’t backed up with facts.

          This is precisely what we have just seen and I’m sorry you are ‘shocked’ by having it spelt out.

          Your shock doesn’t make the reality go away. Sorry.

          1. florian albert says:

            ‘religious figures hiding their toxic hated-filled politics behind their faith’

            Who exactly are these ‘religious figures’ ?
            In the context of the article, it would appear to include Jacob Rees-Mogg, though most people would see him as a political not a religious figure.
            Who else ?

            Rees-Mogg has been in this news because he said he accepted the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.
            Does doing so make you ‘hate filled ?’
            If that is Mike Small’s definition of ‘hate filled’, he will find that many, many of his fellow Scots – including many of those I most admire – fit that description.

          2. The figures described are Tim Fallon, Norman Tebbit and Jacob Rees Mogg. You do read these articles before responding don’t you? It helps.

            I’m sure you do admire people who hold bigoted views against women and gay people. ‘Does doing so make you ‘hate filled ?’

            Yes it does. The fact that ‘that many, many of his fellow Scots – including many of those I most admire – fit that description’ is sad but doesn’t make it less true.

    2. Pogliaghi says:

      ” A polarisation would only benefit the fascists.”

      Rare wisdom.

      NB How many degrees of separation are there between the diaspora of the Celtic radical indy fringe and conservative Catholicism in Ireland? (Cat Boyd beaming at the Pope? Just an image that lingered in my mind….)

      The Olde Worlde English aristocratic Catholics and the shamrock-and-hoops Catholics seem to exist in parallel universes. I guess that’s a cultural truism. But what’s the real difference? Just class, pseudo-ethnicity, and not social values as such.

      Sadly the world does not decompose into pure ” black and white ” if that’s not too offensive a figure of speech.

  5. Sandra Patterson says:

    I’d have more respect for his “life is sacred” guff if he didn’t support Trident, imperialist wars and austerity, or if he’d demonstrated the least compassion for child refugees instead of voting against the Dubs amendment. The reality is his ideology is totally self serving. Fascists come in all disguises, don’t be fooled by a Saville Row suit and plummy accent.

    1. MBC says:

      Well said. The sacredness of life argument is phoney and hypocritical if those who advocate it don’t apply it equally to all human beings. It is strange that those who typically argue for the rights of the unborn ‘child’ are typically those who don’t hesitate to take the harshest measures against their fellow human beings.

      1. Jo says:

        @ MBC

        That is a monstrous allegation to make! Can you back it up? You can’t. You have just attempted to taint many, many people as inhumane towards their fellow man with no evidence whatsoever provided. You simply make sweeping generalisations and little else.

        1. MBC says:

          Well Sandra has just cited yer man himself, who despite his ‘tender’ feelings towards foetuses would not help child refugees.

  6. Pogliaghi says:

    Norman Tebbitt is talking bollocks in the Telegraph. News at 11.

  7. Steve Cairns says:

    Thanks Mike. I’m glad to see the connections being made and published and you do it well. I watched the Rees Mogg interview and his position can be condensed as “I don’t judge what is sinful – I defer that decision to the church” – It seems almost reasonable, or perhaps forgivable to many, because that’s the prerogative of a private individual of any faith. What’s neglected is that it’s a totally unacceptable moral position for a legislator. It leaves them voting to translate their own particular God’s “sinful” to “unlawful” in a secular democracy, and perhaps tellingly reveals that constitutionally the UK is not quite either, and why an Independent Scotland must be both.

    No politician has any right whatsoever to help enforce any church’s will on someone else’s person by means of state intervention. Abortion and gay marriage are things Rees-Mogg himself acknowledged in the interview as private matters of conscience, rather than party political issues.
    Why then that responsibility, agency, and right of free conscience, can’t be extended to the people concerned, totally defies logic. They should be able to seek guidance where they wish, and will have a far greater understanding both of the complexities and realities of their position, and of the implications of their actions or choices, than any theologian or politician.

    On the “pregnant by a family-member” example posited by Piers-Morgan, the horrible truth is that arranged (sometimes forced) marriages between closely inter-related families were used for centuries to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few. The superior rights of a potential heir over his mother reflect that practice and priority. Not surprisingly, a church whose tradition forbade it’s own priests heirs, so to concentrate it’s own wealth, and so support a
    patriarchy it remains part of, will reinforce that view.

    Rees-Mogg might regard a selective breeding programme, brokered and run in the interests of patriarchs, as a heritage to be proud of. From a more modern viewpoint, it represents the ultimate and absolute subjugation of women.

    Such 19th century affections may seem endearing or harmless to some, but they are also a dog-whistle for all manner of supremacists who’d prefer to be seen as “a bit old-fashioned” than revealed as racist, misogynist, homophobic authoritarians. – That’s to name just a few “traditional values” Rees-Mogg epitomises, and shares with Donald Trump. Ironically, someone he probably, secretly, regards his cultural inferior.

  8. Will says:

    Remember when this site used to be about the positive case for an independent Scotland

    From my reading of Hardman, the point she made was a more nuanced one (although it may not be to your preference). That genuine liberalism necessarily (if it is to have any agency) requires the tolerance of the public expression of all perspectives so long as they are not inciting hate or harm, even in public office and however repugnant you may find those views. The main reason being that many many people, especially of a religious and a conservative bent share such views as anti abortion, anti gay marriage etc.

    Trying to push such views out of the public arena will simply exacerbate their potency.

    And although I am on the left, I fully recognise the left’s tendency to try and police people’s attitudes and militantly disregard other views and ways of life that are more conservative.

    1. Hi Will, this site is about the positive case fr independence – but not at the exclusion of all other issues. It is also about what kind of Scotland and wider society we want to create (and always has been.)

      As for the main reason for liberalism’: “being that many many people, especially of a religious and a conservative bent share such views as anti abortion, anti gay marriage etc” I dont agree at all.

  9. George Gunn says:

    “Talk such as “Religious figures hiding their toxic hate-filled politics behind their faith….” is not helpful.” No, Richard MacKinnon, it is helpful, because it is true. Mikes piece was about language and how up is now down and black is white. Believe me, Richard, the fascists are on the march. You are not one, I know. But there are lots of them out there.

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Mike and yourself, and many others on Bella are making a mistake in their assessment of recent events. You are lumping together a number of recent unrelated electoral decisions that you were not in favour of and are coming up with a false conspiracy theory, to suit your prejudice. There is still a small school of thought within Scotland that cannot accept our referendum result, that think our referendum and subsequent democratic events are proof of a dangerous, coordinated rise in a right wing, racist, new conservative global facist movement. You are mistaken. There is no link between Scotland’s referendum result, Brexit, conservatism and Trump.
      The mistake Mike Smart makes and demonstrates in this article is his inablity to accept that other people can have and are entitled to an opposite opinion to his own. And as you defend him, you are the same. Mike Smart cannot accept that Jacob Rees Mogg and Norman Tebbitt are entitled to their beliefs. So polar opposite are these views to Mike’s own and so dismissive is Mike of them, he snears at them. He does not try to counter them. Mike knows he is right. Mike is so intolerant of other peoples beliefs he dismisses them as, ‘filled with hate’. These people are twisted and dangerous in Mike’s world of self righteous know it all certainty, and that because people like JRM are thinking and articulating their thoughts and people are listening, the only explanation Mike can come up with is that black is now white and up is now down.
      That kind of conclusion might impress the camp followers but it is of course rubbish. Mike Smart is unwittingly admitting here that he he is intellectually beaten. He is now showing the classic signs of a bitter loser somewhere stuck between the phase of denial and depression.

      1. “Mike Smart is intellectually beaten”

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          I apologise for getting your name wrong. That was careless. Nonetheless I stand by everything I said.
          Slagging off other people because you dont agree with them is just lazy thinking. As editor of what has been seen as a serious Scottish political web site you should be ashamed off yourself. In fact I will be honest here and I am not having a cheap dig, you should have followed your instincts back in January. Bella is going nowhere with its present editorial line.

          1. What a lovely contribution Richard.

            I’m not sure why you spend so much time here given that you have such disregard for me and the output of the site.

            Your every contribution is to tell everyone how wrong we are and how we should abandon the principles and ideas we’ve been trying to articulate for a decade.

            In fact I will be honest here and I am not having a cheap dig, you should just go and play somewhere else.

  10. florian albert says:

    Mike Small

    When your definition of ‘hate filled’ includes Tim Farron, it is time to chuck it.

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