Words we may not use

The English language tsar, Jacob William Rees-Mogg esquire, has spoken and told us what we may and may not say.  We may not use words such as ‘very’, ‘unacceptable’ ‘lot’ (we don’t know which meaning is proscribed – a large quantity, destiny, something put up for auction, a film set etc), ‘ascertain’, ‘disappointment’, ‘speculate’, and ‘equal’.  Now for a multi-millionaire Conservative M.P. I can see that the word ‘equal’ may be an unacceptable (oops) socialist concept.  I suppose that a lot of his clients would not want to be reminded that to speculate is the essence of the business of which he was CEO, a fund management firm, Somerset Capital Management.  He is still a partner in the business.  They would not wish to have the disappointment of learning that the firm which he co-founded necessarily follows an investment strategy based on speculation

I’m curious though as to how we are intended to live in his binary world.  No longer for instance shall we be able to say that it is very hot or very cold.  We shall have to content ourselves with saying simply that it is either hot or cold, or perhaps give the temperature instead.  In Fahrenheit.  Because this is the other part of his attempt to control the way in which we express ourselves. As a fully qualified historian – he has a 2.1 in history - he takes the view that we should re-adopt the Imperial system of measurement.  Now I am aware that Mr Rees-Mogg does not trouble himself with going to places where common people go, such as supermarkets – even Waitrose.  I think that’s left to Nanny, even though,
ironically, he’s against the ‘nanny state’.  It may even be that in his part of Somerset they have not quite caught up with the rest of the world but I think that, even there, going into a shop to buy a pint of milk or a pound of sugar  could be something of a problem.  On the other hand, it would re-align us with the USA, Myanmar and Liberia which (other than their scientists) still use our old system.

It would also mean that teaching in schools would have to alter radically.  Since 1974 all state schools, although perhaps not Eton and Harrow, have been required to teach the metric system as the primary system of measurement.  People under 50 do not really know what the Imperial System is.  Even I, who grew up with the Imperial System, cannot now remember how many chains there are in a furlong or how many yards there are in a chain.  I think there are 8 furlongs to a mile, but I may be wrong.  Should we perhaps measure our speed in Furlongs per Fortnight?  Do I need to find my seven league boots again? Indeed, how long is a league?  Do I need to polish my rods, poles and perches?  Ooh Matron!  Quite what an ounce corresponds to in the real world, I now have little idea and the last time I saw a pound as a weight was in one of my mother’s old cookery books. As someone who studied the sciences at A Level, all our measurements relied on the metric system and all of our books used that system.  So then, if we are to become the epicentre of the scientific world, as Boris has said we shall, then the rest of that scientific world will also have to cope with or even adopt our strange measuring system. Such is the disconnection between the mind trained at Eton and Oxford and the rest of the world.  Such is the effect of putting an arch-conservative historian in a position of influence and power.

Apart from his sobriquet as the Honourable member for the 18th Century, what else do we know about him? He doesn’t seem to be the writer his father was.  The former editor of the Times, much admired by his son, wrote or co-wrote many books, mostly supporting the idea of free-market conservatism.  He resigned as editor shortly after the rampant free-marketeer Rupert Murdoch took over the paper. 
Perhaps an example of not wanting personally to be subjected to the policies he had preached.

But the Mogglet?  He had a history book published last year about the ‘12 Titans of the Victorian age’, which was panned by numerous professional historians and which somehow omitted to refer to the dreadful working conditions of the employees of various of those Titans.  After all red tape only gets in the way of industry! 

Apart from that, Mogg junior seems only to have had published one other contribution to our literature. That was in 2012, two years after becoming an MP.  It was a rather formulaic introduction to an essay collection published by the very right wing think-tank Politeia.  He opined that he was for “the individual against the state”, and against a “society wrapped in cotton wool”. “The choice,” he told us, was between “the collective” and its “constant mediocrity” (like perhaps the mediocrity of putting a man on the moon, or those mediocre D-Day landings?), and “freedom and great peaks of human endeavour”.  He does not seem to take very seriously the great follies to which uncontrolled human endeavour can also subject us, such as the banking crisis, allowed to happen by precisely the reduction in regulation which he calls for. The Mogg wishes clearly to adopt an American system which values personal success above all else and which, as we have seen, condemned the less fortunate to a life with no effective recourse to health-care - prior, that is, to the introduction of Obamacare, so much hated by his fellow right-wingers in the Republican party.

Obviously, there are difficulties with central planning. It depends on the existence of a competent civil service, combined with competent political control – people like Rees-Mogg, who need to define the main lines of the policy, make the money available and then, preferably, allow the experts to implement it. That of course implies a taxation system which is not at all to Mr Rees-Mogg’s liking, and which is, no doubt, one of the reasons why Somerset Capital Management is run through a series of off-shore tax havens.  He is in favour of low taxation - very low taxation.  As a multi-millionaire, and so perhaps in a slightly better position than the man in the street to deal with any resulting problems, he favours the idea that people should be encouraged to buy the health and education services they want from independent providers. These providers will of course be subject to light-touch regulation and so at significant risk of engaging in malpractice and not fulfilling their obligations – the cost of which will, in all senses of the word, ultimately fall on their customers.

This is also why he is against our membership of the EU. It is for him an unacceptable example of central control and planning, no different in any meaningful sense from the Communist systems of the Cold War period. Despite the European elections which we've just participated in, he holds that the EU is run by an unelected elite in Brussels.  This is in complete contrast, of course to what seems to be the Mogg’s preference – an elite composed of an unelected prime minister and his over-privileged cabinet colleagues, mainly educated in public schools and Oxbridge, virtually none of whom have any scientific knowledge.

What a ridiculous, posturing buffoon.

Paul Buckingham

29 July 2019

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