James Meek (author of Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs To Someone Else) did a great profile of new Leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mog. It sums up the argument incredibly well that the stuffy all-English persona he affects in Parliament is at odds with his source of income in a transnational investment firm. Meek goes deep on the problematic network of offshore financial instruments used to shroud Mogg’s investment firm in secrecy, which makes sense given his work on Private Island.
In 2007, a few years before Jacob Rees-Mogg became, as the Labour MP Jack Dromey put it, ‘the honourable member for Downton Abbey’, his alter ego Jacob Rees-Mogg set up Somerset Capital Management with two friends.
Meek goes beyond that oft-bandied about analysis, though. He argues that these “two Jacobs” are two sides of the same coin. They’re two aspects of a type that has appeared everywhere in the Faragist era of British politics: the vocal patriot (nationalist) that benefits from the free movement of hoarded capital across the world.
On the face of it, this kind of full-throated neoliberalism is the perfect expression of that original Thatcherite flaw: you can speak as patriotically as you like, but if your patriotism involves throttling your country’s hospitals with spending cuts and standing idly by while better educated, lower paid, worse-treated workforces overseas trash your farmers and lay domestic industry to waste, people are bound to ask: ‘Remind me how this is patriotic again?’