There will be a rush to explain away this result – so let ConservativeHome get there first. In our view, Jacob Rees-Mogg is the beneficiary of party member disillusion with the present senior options for replacing her. This, in turn, shows the knock-on effects, first, of an EU referendum campaign that those members evidently found divisive (despite their strong support for Brexit); second, of a sense that the collective leadership of the party failed during the general election campaign and, third, of a Corbyn factor – that’s to say, of a yearning for clarity, authenticity and commitment, made all the more pressing by the Party now having been in government since 2010.
For all his intelligence, wit and fearlessness, this site suspects that Rees-Mogg as leader would be unable to overleap the legend of the nanny and the poshness and the supposed out-of-touchness, and cut through in the marginal seats, especially in the Midlands and the North, that the Tories need to win their first full majority since 1987. He would be defined by an always cynical and sometimes feral media before he could define himself.
So in the absence of anyone that party members find convincing, Rees-Mogg is a gainer from what is essentially a protest vote. Note that “other”, the write-in category, came second in the survey, having topped it during the two previous months. Rees-Mogg has been boosted this month by the raising of his media profile, and doubtless by this site now putting him formally in the survey. Those energetic campaigns of activists that back him have been supplemented by a mass of free publicity – some of it from sources unconvinced by his proposed candidacy, such as this site, and others from those hostile to it, such as Matthew Parris.
None the less, Rees-Mogg’s buoyancy, and his popularity with many activists, is sending a signal to CCHQ. He may laugh off the idea of a Rees-Mogg premiership himself – pointing out that his MP colleagues would be unlikely to forward his name as one of two to chooose from to Party members – but his breakthrough confirms that high-quality Tory MPs are not so great in number as to justify non-promotion to those who merit it. This site first argued that Rees-Mogg should be on the Government front-bench four years ago. As we have said previously, he should be made an offer of a big but not yet Cabinet-level post as soon as possible (though he might not accept).
P.S: For those who would simply write the survey off, please note how close its findings recently were to a contemporaneous YouGov poll, and please see too last Sunday’s Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday, which found him second to Boris Johnson among Tory voters.