Delivering a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staunch Brexiteer, claimed that the phrase “people’s vote” – the name for a second Brexit referendum – sounded somewhat oppressive.
In order to highlight his words, he referred to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – the name of the country under the now-deceased Muammar Gaddafi – as the “People’s Republic of Jam Jar.”
“All the countries who are least interested in their people call themselves ‘people’s’, don’t they? So the People’s Republic of China? Oh, that’s communist. And the People’s Republic of Jam Jar, or something like that, of Libya, was what it was called when Colonel Gaddafi was in charge,” he told a packed crowd.
The hardliner’s remark was largely viewed as “casual racism,” with Labour MP Alex Sobel tweeting that his comments were made in a Boris Johnson-style:
Deary me @Jacob_Rees_Mogg your first attempt at global diplomacy has failed in a bit of casual racism. Did you and @BorisJohnson have the same Geography teacher at @Eton_College? Maybe now is the time to learn some respect for other countries https://t.co/M3WdgKPWtE— (((Alex Sobel MP))) (@alexsobel) 30 сентября 2018 г.
Many social media users also thought that his words were a manifestation of racism, with some adding that not only was it racist, but deeply insulting:
Ah, Global Britain: nothing to export but casual racism.https://t.co/FCQZLoogjB— Aditya Chakrabortty (@chakrabortty) 30 сентября 2018 г.
Yes. Yes it is. Casual racism from "man of the people" Mogg.— Paul Rabaut 🇪🇺🇬🇧 (@VermisstPfarrer) 1 октября 2018 г.
What really matters is that it is a disgraceful, insulting, demeaning remark and makes the perpetrator unfit for office anywhere in public or commercial settings.— Michael Strain (@strainm) 1 октября 2018 г.
WHAT AN IDIOT— THE BLACK SALTIRE#FBSI (@80_mcswan) 1 октября 2018 г.
Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to an African country as “the people’s republic of jam jar or something”, in a speech to Conservative Party Conference.
He was referring to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
Another user mocked the names of Mogg’s children, saying that they sounded more ridiculous than “Jamahiriya”:
He called his kids Peter Theodore Alphege, Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan, Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam, Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius and Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher.— Andy Brook (@andybrook1) 1 октября 2018 г.
And he thinks Jamahiriya is a ridiculous name…
Meanwhile, another Twitterian tried to explain to fellow netizens what Mogg meant, in his opinion, to say:
I took @jacob_rees_mogg as being against regimes who opress while having 'the peoples…' In the name. Why is it racist to have a dig at Jamahiriya which was not for the people in the slightest.— Neil Sotheby (@NeilSotheby) 1 октября 2018 г.
Others attached a picture of a jam jar by a British manufacturer of marmalade, Robertson’s, with a Golliwog on it:
I think even those with a basic grasp of psychiatry know exactly why the words "jam jar" popped into Jacob Rees-Mogg's head when searching for an African country reference.— MunchBunch (@Munchbunch87) 30 сентября 2018 г.
Ugly underlying racism in the Tory Party is rife. pic.twitter.com/5pyaNEOZbv
I wonder why that popped in to his head… 🤔 pic.twitter.com/paeDOvmVkA— i.am.eletrick©️ & friends (@TallAsHerEyes) 30 сентября 2018 г.
There were those who suggested that it was absurd to be offended for a country title that “no longer exists”:
If you knew your geography you’d know that the “Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” no longer exists— TommyHowell (@TJ_HOWLER) 30 сентября 2018 г.
It was a name made up by Gadaffi
So who are you trying to be offended for?
I am offended on behalf of a country title that has been partly translated and no longer exists! Idiot Snowflakes!!— Andrew Barber (@Barbwire654) 1 октября 2018 г.
Well thanks to David Cameron Libya does not a functioning Government to get offended by this.— Jim Claybourn ♠️🇻🇳💊 (@JimClaybourn) 1 октября 2018 г.
Back in 1986, Muammar Gaddafi proclaimed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which ceased to exist in 2011 after the Colonel was overthrown, with the National Transitional Council beginning to refer to the state as “Libya.”
In December 2017, the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations informed the international organization that the country’s official name was the “State of Libya.”