When Jacob-Rees Mogg finished his interview on Good Morning Britain last month, the discussion was shared online and invoked furious reactions from a wide range of angles. Talking about sensitive issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, will always entice debate and lead to passionate emotions from either side. The outrage Mr. Mogg caused highlights how far the Conservative Party in Britain have changed and how few “true” conservatives remain in highly esteemed political positions.
What makes a “true” conservative then? Why do you give such a title to the MP for North East Somerset? Well, we must first go back and consider the ideas of Edmund Burke, often heralded as the founder of conservatism. Writing in his book, ’Reflections on the revolution’ in France, Burke spoke critically on the influence religion should have in society: “We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts”.
Moreover, Samuel P. Huntington writing in Conservatism as an Ideology, spoke of how Burke thought the state should be minimal in their affairs, the economy and general life.
This is crucial to understanding Mr. Mogg’s position on abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Mogg said: “I’m a Catholic and I take the teaching of the Catholic church seriously in matters of faith and morals. Marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the church, not with Parliament.” He alluded to being against gay marriage but did not specifically state it. On the matter of abortion, he was more clear: “I’m completely opposed to abortion. Life begins at the point of conception.”
These sorts of views may shock many who deem thoughts outdated. Jacob’s credentials to be the next Tory leader have taken a battering, with such comments sure to lose the party support. Yet, Mr. Mogg is a conservative and in being one, he is just relating to the ideas of the founding father Edmund Burke. Therefore, his backing of the Catholic Church should not leave people shocked. By defending his religious beliefs, he is just defending the “true” definition of conservatism.
Image: NCVO London on Flickr