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Opinion Toff off

Ridicule needed more than ever as the likes of Rees-Mogg drive the country to hell in a handcart

THE sight of Jacob Rees-Mogg reclining along the government front bench in Parliament is as perfect a picture of privilege as there is.

Labour MP Anna Turley called Rees-Mogg’s slouching the “physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our Parliament,” while, according to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, the leader of the House’s body language throughout the evening “has been so contemptuous of this house and of the people.”

Rees-Mogg rests easy. As far as he’s concerned, Parliament is there to serve his, and the toffs, interest. The pasty-faced leech just has to sit tight, or rather lounge.

He was widely lampooned and ridiculed. The interwebs were full of memes, jokes and lampoons at his expense. Some were hilarious and completely hit the mark — Twitter may take the role of the stocks these days but when someone has no shame and is so isolated from the mob tweeting their anger, the rotten fruit thrown in righteous anger falls short.

This same week I was at a zine fair at anarchist bookshop Freedom. I’ve learnt more about politics, as well as music and style, from zines than I ever did from the mainstream media — even when the picture is as perfect as Rees-Mogg.

For all our Parliament is, it’s a representative democracy. Zines are a direct voice. The shotgun style and anger of the zines I was reading in the 1970s and ’80s is now more refined — even Rees-Mogg wears a top hat. We now have computers and so it’s easy for the mob to put their fire, or lack of it, into print.

I picked up stickers with Angela Davis on them and her quote: “What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.” As so often, she’s right. Sadly, Rees-Mogg shows that too many of our politicians are redundant but they sit, or rather lounge, in Parliament while most of the country goes under.

One of the plentiful jokes at Rees-Mogg’s expense was that the benches of Parliament should have homeless spikes installed. Not a bad idea at all.

Also at Freedom I picked up the pamphlet A Glorious Liberty by AL Morton, about the ideas of the Ranters. These Ranters weren’t the shouty poets of my youth — though we knew about our predecessors — but the extreme sect from the English revolution in the 17th century.

The Ranters were accused by their contemporaries of spending their time “in drunkenness, uncleanness, blasphemous words, filthy songs and mixt dances of men and women stark naked.” To be fair, we did get up to a bit of that in the early 1980s too.

The pamphlet is from the always excellent Past Tense ( and is well worth a read. The Ranters were fervent pamphleteers and the whole period of the English revolution is one where pamphlets were the voice of ye people and the pillory for foes. The Ranters wore no top hats.

I was fervent that week myself. I was on Eddie Piller’s modcast discussing my skinhead pulp-horror Moonstomp. Podcasts are another fine example of technology enabling the people’s voice. There are some excellent ones covering a diverse range of interests, including drunkenness, uncleanness, blasphemous words, filthy songs, and mixt dances of men and women stark naked.

The Modcast discusses all things, even vaguely mod, and as things do, opens on to the world. Recently Crass’s Penny Rimbaud was a guest and he ended up talking about how much he loved Starbucks.

Do they owe us a living? Of course they fucking do.


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