I should say here that I actually quite like Jacob. I have met him twice in person, both times during the EU referendum campaign, and in the flesh he is refreshingly polite and certainly very charming. Even my mother, a devout socialist and Corbynite, finds him to be more appealing than most who don the blue rosette. The oddity I have noticed with the festering support for him to be Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives has nothing to do with him as a man. Moreover, it appears to resemble some sort of belatedly hatched plan B after this year's catastrophic general election campaign. And, what is more, there is very little to suggest that Mr Rees-Mogg would have achieved much better than the Prime Minister.
Careful examination of Mrs May, once she had been exposed to the harshness of leadership and the Public Relations industry, revealed that she was above all a wooden performer and lacked the ability to really grip and entice her audiences. What Tory members don't seem to realise is that Jacob Rees-Mogg is similarly reflective of that very same disconnect. He is, much like the current Tory leader, a devout Christian and Oxbridge attendee, living in the peace and comfort of rural seclusion. Mr Rees-Mogg is also inescapably posh and the beneficiary of inherited wealth. I don't mean these things to be personal attacks upon him, but crucially, they are all correct and will help to form a general impression that he is out of touch with the struggles and interests of ordinary people (I actually hate the phrase 'ordinary people' but I don't quite know how to avoid using it).
David Cameron and Boris Johnson, despite also being posh boys, both possess an undeniable charisma. Mr Cameron was nicknamed the 'heir to Blair' for a reason, and Boris has always been very effective at deploying his alter-ego as clownish buffoon to help distract from certain inconveniences in his personal life and political track record. Make people laugh and they'll forget about your shortcomings. It is to my great relief that both these gentlemen are now toxic and either wholly unelectable or far removed from influence. Mr Rees-Mogg is not disgraced in any way that I can see, but lacks the charisma, youth and thus mainstream appeal that other Tories have been lucky to have at their disposal. The situation reminds me slightly of Ruth Davison in Scotland. She too rarely attracts any negative attention, and this bubble of invincibility is, I fear, damaging to debate.
The only way to transition the Conservatives into whatever their next era looks like will be to hold another election. The government is so frail that any internal division will cause yet more constitutional chaos. The Tories will oust May before the Brexit negotiations are up, or immediately afterwards, and another General Election will be called. He may be a respected parliamentarian, family man, ardent local campaigner and committed to the supposed aims and values of the Conservative Party, but capable of launching a coup during such a sensitive period Mr Rees-Mogg is not.
My focus on his character and identity is deliberate. I am playing the game of those who are quite willingly using him as a battering ram against the current leadership. They are (rightly) dismayed with having lost seats in an election they seemed bound to trounce and striking a deal with a Democratic Unionist Party that will damage pockets of Tory support in more urbanised and metropolitan parts of the country. Real social conservatism is powerful in that regard, and that should go a long way to dispelling the myth that the Conservatives are anything other than liberals who mouth conservative sentiment when it suits them. Oh, and that reminds me, much like me, Mr Rees-Mogg's views on a range of social issues would make the modern neoliberal Tory wince in discomfort.
The support for his whisking into Number 10 boils down mostly to his dedication to Brexit, articulate manner which very few opponents have been able to match in televised combat and portrayal as a figure cruelly blocked from top positions and deserving of some kind of sympathy. These may or may not be true, depending on your view, but they aren't necessarily reasons for the establishing of a 'Moggmentum' movement. In fact, all this seems to me to do is symbolise that our politics is too often architected by presentation and not nearly enough by substance.
Tories reading may think this sounds harsh, but ask yourself a couple of questions: why do you think Mr Rees-Mogg would make a good leader of the Conservative Party, and, secondly, can you honestly imagine him standing at that shining blue podium during leadership debates seducing the British electorate into voting for him? If you can, then more power to you. I am happy to listen to your reasoning. But are you sure this isn't symptomatic of a party losing sight of its once fearsome polling leads and scrambling to recover from the losses it has incurred?
Jacob Rees-Mogg may, in his possible appointment, provide short-term relief from the painful Theresa May experiment. He may even evoke a certain sentimentality with older Tories, who remember the days of chivalry at home and the empire abroad. But he's not capable of commanding an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. And no amount of niceness or new children will change this. He is at best a plaster on a gaping and self-inflicted wound.