Daily Express

Pale, male old boys belong in the 1950s

- Virginia Blackburn

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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