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The danger of the 'funny posh politician' Jacob Rees-Mogg

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On Good Morning Britain yesterday, Conservative MP for North East Somerset and the centrepiece of many Facebook memes Jacob Rees-Mogg managed something no-one should ever be proud of. He made Piers Morgan, misogynist and general disgusting person, look like the good guy, due to his comments on abortion and homosexuality.

Rees-Mogg stated that he was completely opposed to abortion under all circumstances, including for rape victims, and that he opposes same-sex marriage. This comes after he was tipped as the next leader of the Conservative Party if Theresa May were to step down, and after becoming the subject of a number of memes since the general election in June. 

Within my age group and politically engaged group of peers, he is incredibly easy to laugh at. He’s insufferably posh, Eton and Oxford-educated, and a very generic Tory stereotype. My university’s meme Facebook page even made a meme featuring him, and it does make me laugh.

Credit: edimeme 

However, if we are to laugh at, and make memes about these sort of politicians we must be aware of and critical of their views, and more importantly, voting records. The more publicity people like Rees-Mogg get, even if it is through the medium of memes and jokes online, the more of a platform they have. And if they have inherently dangerous views, like Rees-Mogg, that can be a huge problem. We saw a similar thing happen with Trump, and we must be careful not to let the same thing happen here.

But how, exactly, are Rees-Mogg’s views “inherently dangerous”? Let’s have a look at his voting record. He has always voted against equal marriage and equal LGBT rights, he has always voted against a better welfare system, he has voted against disability benefits and voted for tuition fees being raised to £9,000 a year. 

He has a traditional, right-wing Tory record of voting. Not like the softer, more centrist politics of the Cameron era. He is incredibly right wing, with a lot of these votes going on to directly damage the lives of many ordinary people, including many of my friends who have been hit hard by tuition fee increases. As a queer woman it hurts to think that such an up-and-coming politician could be so strongly against equal marriage and LGBT rights – let alone his recently expressed views on abortion.

I am staunchly pro-choice and believe that it is a human right to be able to access safe and legal abortion. The criminalisation of abortion, as we can see in Ireland (both North and South) has disastrous effects on women and their health. Making something illegal doesn’t stop it, it only makes it more dangerous. The fact that a potential Tory leader has such fiercely-held anti-choice views is not only worrying but harmful. His influence could turn the party even more to the right than it already is, causing even more damage and adding vulnerable women to the list of the casualties of the Conservative government – alongside disabled people, the working class, immigrants, people of colour and young people.

This is not an attack on free speech. I have the right to criticise Rees-Mogg’s comments just as much as he has the right to make them. But I believe that when someone so influential, with an ever-growing platform thanks to social media, has such awful opinions – that’s when they become truly dangerous.

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