Amidst the media froth surrounding the Conservative back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, it’s all too easy to forget that the family name used to have very different associations. Jacob’s father was William (Baron Rees-Mogg of Hinton Blewett, as he became), who spent fourteen years as editor of The Times, and was seen by some as being dangerously liberal. Here’s a crusty old British diplomat in Graham Lord’s novel The Spider and the Fly (1977) bemoaning the state of the nation:
‘What’s the fellow’s name? Rees-Davies? Reis-Davies? You know, on The Times.’
‘Rees-Mogg?’ said Brooke.
‘Mogg, that’s it. Mogg. I knew it was something foreign. Dear God. It’s the thin end of the wedge when you find a fellow called Mogg editing The Times. I ask you. Is a fellow called Mogg likely to inspire confidence in the pound? Can you imagine nations trembling at the thunderings of a person called Mogg? Same with everything these days. BBC, C of E, MCC. They’ve all sold out. Nowadays it’s all demonstrations, anarchy, pornography. Galloping paralysis, that’s what it is.’