Having dismissed the thought of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States and rubbished the concept of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, and scoffed at the notion of Labour under Corbyn doing quite well at the general election, the media now has to be very careful every time some unlikely person emerges as The Next Big Thing.
So topsy turvy has politics become that nothing can be dismissed out of hand. It must all be qualified, and treated semi-seriously, because the situation is so volatile and we journalists have been wrong about so much in recent years that we can never be sure something mad won’t happen.
Could Tory MP Michael Fabricant become Chancellor of the Exchequer at the reshuffle? Hmmm… unlikely, but don’t rule anything out.
Bill Cash to take over the Brexit talks? Wouldn’t that make Barnier and co give up, or possibly run from the negotiation suite in Brussels screaming? Sounds implausible, but let’s not dismiss the prospect of this dramatic appointment entirely.
This oppressive need to keep an open mind about every possibility means that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s leadership is this week being taken extremely seriously. We are told that the “Moggster” has momentum (with a small m, not a large M) and youngsters – at least 200 of them – like his patrician manner and the way he tells it like it is about Brexit, abortion, gay marriage, cricket, chalk-stripe trousers, Montagu Norman, or his nanny.
He’s a canny operator, Jacob. Like Trump or Corbyn, every time the liberal media elite liberal elitists think they have found the killer remark, or “gaffe”, or position, it just bounces off. His supporters like that he speaks his mind clearly and is not intimidated by the London media with its definition of acceptable opinions.
Regardless of that, for a lot of Tories over 35 the whole idea of him being Tory leader is inherently implausible and brain-bustingly nuts. It’s Jacob Rees-Mogg, a brilliant media performer with a gift for getting BBC Question Time audiences to listen to him without shouting him down, but, but, it’s… it’s Jacob Rees-Mogg.
So what? say the young groovers of the Moggmentum crowd. We dig (or something) his double breasted suits from Huntsman, and his spectacles from the 1990s and his opinions from the 1890s. You dig?
Where his leadership hopes collide with reality – I think, but who knows any more – is in the selection process the Tories use to choose their leaders. Tory MPs whittle it down to the final two and it is highly unlikely that Tory MPs would risk putting the Moggster to the Conservative party membership in the country, because Corbyn-style he might win with the activists. See, they still know how to stitch something up, those Tories. Or perhaps in excluding him they’ll be missing out on a dead cert Prime Minister with an unconventional appeal. Oh, I give up. Time for the pub.