Daily Express

Pale, male old boys be­long in the 1950s

- Vir­ginia Blackburn Jacob Rees-Mogg · United Kingdom · Boris Johnson · Theresa May · Eton College

IHAVE never liked the phrase, “Pale, male and stale”, mainly be­cause the peo­ple who use it tend to be the type who are har­bour­ing some spu­ri­ous griev­ance about some­thing and are about to let you know that they have, yet again, taken of­fence. But that was ex­actly the phrase that leapt to mind when I saw the pic­tures of Ja­cob Rees-Mogg and his band of merry men threat­en­ing to re­move the Prime Min­is­ter: they were a throw­back to the 1950s, to a Bri­tain that ceased to ex­ist decades ago.

Smug, en­ti­tled, pa­tro­n­is­ing and ever so sure they know bet­ter than the rest of us, they to­tally de­served the hu­mil­i­a­tion that awaited them. Whither the ca­reer of Rees-Mogg now? As acts of self-immolation go, that one takes some beat­ing.

Like much of the rest of the coun­try while I never took Ja­cob R-M very se­ri­ously I felt a bit of fond­ness for the old boy with his pro­lific fa­ther­hood, stran­gu­lated tones and ex­ces­sive cour­tesy.

In a strange way he has some­thing in com­mon with his fel­low Old Eto­nian Boris John­son in that both present them­selves as car­i­ca­tures – bum­bling Boris, Vic­to­rian Rees-Mogg – while both are ab­so­lutely sharp as ticks.

Re­mem­ber that Rees-Mogg made a for­tune as a fund man­ager and you don’t get that by be­ing very po­lite. But both also hint at a sense of en­ti­tle­ment and strangely enough it comes out when they are hav­ing a pop at the res­o­lutely mid­dle-class, mid­dle Bri­tain Theresa May.

A while back I had a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one who said that in the early 1990s he was tempted to leave Bri­tain be­cause it was pre­dom­i­nantly white. I hope I won’t upset any­one by say­ing I thought it was a ridicu­lous thing to say at the time but now I’m be­gin­ning to think he had a point.

The world has changed since the days Old Eto­ni­ans ruled it: these days we have a gram­mar school girl at Num­ber 10, just as we did the last time there was a fe­male PM. Some­times not all change is for the bad.

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