Monday, 26 September 2011

World Wide Mogg Blog: Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons fo...

World Wide Mogg Blog: Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons fo...: In the spring of 1990 I reached my majority and was duly called into father's study for the 'facts of life' discussion that we had, until th...

World Wide Mogg Blog: 'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dresse...

World Wide Mogg Blog: 'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dresse...: There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the legendary cricketer W.G. Grace being bowled for a duck by a brash young upstart at a show ma...

'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dressed in rubber

MP's playing football: Ed Balls at Labour MP's v Press Lobby Party Conference football match

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the legendary cricketer W.G. Grace being bowled for a duck by a brash young upstart at a show match at a minor public school. As a stunned silence fell across the ground, the great man put an arm around the fresh whipper snapper and whispered: 'Young man, you see that crowd? They didn't come here to see you throw balls.'

The sight of Mr Balls on a 'soccer pitch' is part of an unfortunate trend in British politics whereby cabinet and shadow cabinet alike feel duty bound to make asses of themselves in the sporting arena. It has long been the case that anyone wishing to reach the front bench must parade themselves at a football pavilion, feigning interest in whichever team their 'spin doctors' have advised them to support. With the exception of our Prime Minister who has been a keen 'footy' fan since his days at the old alma mater, the spectacle is rarely edifying.

One can hardly imagine the great Statesmen (and woman) of our country's illustrious past, lowering themselves to the bear pit of the 'terraces'. Try for one moment to conjure up a mental image of Lord Palmerston playing 'table tennis' or Gladstone partaking in a game of 'extreme frisbee' or Lady Thatcher playing netball, or Alec Douglas-Home, dressed in rubber, engaging in a spot of 'water sports'. These men (and woman) knew that the British public did not give two figs in a pie-crust as to whether or not they could explain the off-side rule, all they want and ever wanted is good, sound leadership.

It is a great pity that Grace is not around today; were he, one can imagine him putting his arm around the sweaty shoulders of the robust shadow chancellor and whispering: "Young man, you see that electorate? They didn't come here to see you kick - Balls."

Monday, 19 September 2011

Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons for Liberal Democracy

In the spring of 1990 I reached my majority and was duly called into father's study for the 'facts of life' discussion that we had, until then, so artfully avoided.

Pa peeked out from behind his copy of Gibbon's Decline and Fall and beckoned me onto his lap.

"There are three things that every man should know as he goes forth into manhood" he began. "Always avoid people called Eric, clean your flannels weekly and never invade Russia in the month of June." My father had rarely shown such intimacy, but more was to follow, for as I climbed from his knee he fixed me with a stare so beguiling that for an instant I was not sure if he was still of this earth. "One final thing Jacob" he roared "remember this! It is perfectly acceptable to invite a Liberal to tea or even on a week-end shoot to Lancashire, but under no circumstances should you ever consider marrying one."

I have lived my life these past twenty two years according to the strictures of my father's advice. It has served me admirably and indeed my wife informed me on our wedding night that the comforting fragrance of Lenor that had come from an early visit to my flannel cupboard had, as I suspected, been the deciding factor in her acceptance of my hand in marriage.

Unfortunately, there was not room enough upon my father's knee for the cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the country at large. My beloved party, to which I have given so much has indeed embarked upon a relationship with that tautology that styles itself as 'Liberal Democracy'. Watching these 'folk' publicly deride my noble party this week reminds one of the sort of man who marries a girl called Zara on a Saturday and is photographed 'canoodling' with a blonde 'actress' the following week-end.

'In brief' as 'Vince' Cable might say, this marriage is doomed. The Lib Dems are the Zsa Zsa Gabor of politics. They pout, they preen, they work the crowd, but in ten years their contribution to our times will be a footnote to a footnote to an asterisk and people will mutter darkly: "Yes, I remember the name..... but what did they actually do?"

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lessons in the Big Society from The Smurfs (3D)

One of the many drawbacks of a life dedicated to public office are the enforced absences one's family are inevitably subjected to from the pater familias. Subsequently it was decreed last week-end that a trip to the moving picture house in Bath was somewhat overdue and I dutifully set off with several young Moggs in tow to a three dimensional cinema presentation entitled The Smurfs.

Sine ira et studio, I was parted from the best part of a fifty pound note and duly took up my generously proportioned seat armed with a pair of spectacles, which my wife later commented made me look not unlike a young Ray Charles.

After several false starts, we were eventually transported to the land of the diminutive gnome-like creatures of the title. Initially unmoved, as the story unfolded I became more and more drawn in, as it became translucently clear that the Smurfs, with their protestant work ethic, close knit co-operation and refusal to kow-tow to accepted norms regarding state hand-outs and 'big government' are the very definition of the Big Society in action.

As with Margaret Thatcher's superb and much maligned concept of 'Care in the Community' the weaker inhabitants of 'Smurfland' are not consigned to asylums or 'day care centres' but are instead looked after by the other members of their clan. Rather than using his clear lack of co-ordination as an excuse to scrounge 'benefits' off the other villagers, 'Clumsy' seeks to rise above his disablity and is ultimately (like Prometheus) unbound when he overcomes the evil Gargamel (a hideous individual clearly based on Gordon Brown). The other characters are similarly motivated in their determination to climb out of the pit of their limiting epithets with Papa Smurf defying his his five hundred and sixty years (no early retirement for him!) and the delightfully sexualised 'Smurfette' refusing to be tied to worn old stereotypes about female emancipation by gleefully stealing a designer wardrobe from an up-market toy store.

In short, The Smurfs work hard, while adhering to a clear hierachy in a world in which each of them knows his place. They are blue for a very good reason and it seems more than appropriate that their greater homeland of Belgium appears to be taking 'a smurf out of their book' by riding out the global economic crisis via a combination of non interference, small government and thrift. To misquote George Bush Senior we should perhaps be 'more like the Smurfs and less like The Gallaghers'.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Return of Jake Rees Mogg


One is often asked what one gets up to during the unrelenting weeks of the summer recess. Quite apart from the endless fetes, bring and buys and 'photo ops' with youth workers who insist on calling one 'mate', the answer is that I have an ever increasing backlog of post ranging from insane missives from widows in Utah imploring me to commit bigamy, to badly spelt hate mail from Aberdeen. Happily this has now been dealt with, largely by the very efficient shredder by my desk.


One is always thrilled to meet some of the very ordinary people that 'ginger up' the local community. Our last get together in Keynsham Community Centre was a tremendous success and it was simply misfortune that the first face through the door was an old chum from school days. As I did point out to the waiting throng at the time, Monty's holiday Manse is firmly within constituency boundaries and to ignore his frankly compelling problem (a spot of bother with jobsworth councillors over a planning application for a second pool) simply on the basis that he is my daughter's godfather would have been tantamount to discrimination. Something I am very much against. That said, it was unfortunate that our subsequent lunch date did rather catch up on us and consequently I missed the chance to see anyone else. Our next surgery shall be held in Petersleigh Methodist Hall (who says North East Somerset isn't diverse?) on the 10th of September and I hope as many of you as possible will come along with your usual range of delightful 'problems'.

Children's Corner:

The Second Servile War of 104 BC started after an unfounded rumour spread across Rome that imported slaves were getting a better deal of it than the local chaps. The situation soon spread to other provinces as  the work-shy peons ran merrily amok, looting and pillaging and generally upsetting everyone a great deal in the process. All ended happily, however, when the Roman Consul massacred the ungrateful shower in a glorious display of imperial strength. One wonders what the Mayor of London might have achieved with 20,000 well disciplined Centurions during the recent unpleasantness in the 'inner suburbs'.

Working Hard for the People of Somerset:

In the last session, I acted decisively to protect the interests of an elderly immigrant whose family business was under threat from resentful Fabians, nit-wits and so called victims of 'phone hacking'. Whilst we were sadly unable to save the News of Worlds from closure the good people of Keynsham are still able to buy their copy of the fun Sun, which we managed to rescue from the very jaws of the braying mob. One hopes very much that Mr Murdoch will now be left alone and that our collective ire might be better spent on someone more deserving of it - like Mr Brown.

Who's Who?

Finally. Identity theft is a growing problem across the country and it would appear that no-one is above falling prey to this heinous crime. I would once again like to distance myself very firmly from the comical creation who calls himself 'Jacob' and who appears on popular news 'shows' with those Hamilton people. Thank you all very much for your collective support during this difficult time. I wish you all a hearty Ave and shall now return to the concerns of my constituents. 

Jake Rees-Moogg

(As told to Zoe Patterson)