Owen Jones (writer)

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Owen Jones
Owen Jones 2016.jpg
Jones in June 2016
Born Owen Peter Jones
(1984-08-08) 8 August 1984 (age 33)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England
  • Columnist
  • Author
Alma mater University College, Oxford
Notable works Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It

Owen Peter Jones (born 8 August 1984)[2] is a British newspaper columnist, commentator and left wing political activist. He writes a column for The Guardian and (intermittently) for the New Statesman. Jones is a former contributor to The Independent.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England and grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester,[3] and briefly in Falkirk, Scotland.[4] His father was a local authority worker and trade union shop steward,[5] and his mother (Ruth Aylett) was then an IT lecturer at the Salford University.[5] He describes himself as a "fourth-generation socialist"; his grandfather was involved with the Communist Party and his parents met as members of the Trotskyist Militant group.[6]

He attended Bramhall High School and Ridge Danyers Sixth Form College[7] before studying History at University College, Oxford, graduating with a BA in 2005 and a Master of Studies (MSt) in U.S. History in 2007.[8][9]

Before entering journalism, Jones worked as a trade union lobbyist and was a parliamentary researcher for the Labour Party MP John McDonnell, then a backbencher, who later became Shadow Chancellor in 2015.[10][11]

Writings and public career[edit]

Columnist, broadcaster and writer[edit]

Jones speaking in 2013

Jones is a weekly columnist for The Guardian after switching from The Independent in March 2014. His work has appeared in the New Statesman, the Sunday Mirror, Le Monde diplomatique and several smaller publications.[3][12] He has made television appearances as a political commentator, including several BBC News shows, Sky News, Channel 4 News, ITV's Daybreak and BBC One's Question Time.[3]

Jones writes from a left-wing perspective.[13] He is a member of the National Advisory Panel for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, a left-wing think tank.[14]

In 2011, Jones' first book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, he discusses stereotypes of sections of the British working class and the use of the pejorative term "chav". The book received attention in domestic and international media and was selected by critic Dwight Garner of The New York Times as one of his top 10 non-fiction books of 2011 in the paper's Holiday Gift Guide and was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

The Independent on Sunday named Jones as one of its top 50 Britons of 2011, for the manner in which his book raised the profile of class-based issues.[21] In November 2012, Jones was awarded Journalist of the Year at the Stonewall Awards, along with Times journalist Hugo Rifkind.[22] Jones' second book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, was published in September 2014.[23]

Jones has received attention as a significant commentator of the left, with The Daily Telegraph placing him 7th in its 2013 list of Britain's most influential left-wingers.[24]

In February 2013 when Jones was awarded the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award, he donated half the £3,000 prize money to support the campaign of Lisa Forbes, a Labour parliamentary candidate, and the other half to Disabled People Against Cuts.[25]

In an interview with The Student Journals, Jones commented that several people have accused him of using politics only as a tool to raise his own profile and that he risks being seen as a "lefty rent-a-gob".[26]

Jones spoke at a press conference to launch the People's Assembly Against Austerity on 26 March 2013 and regional public meetings in the lead-up to a national meeting at Central Hall Westminster on 22 June 2013.[27][28] In November 2013 he delivered the Royal Television Society's Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture, Totally Shameless: How TV Portrays the Working Class.[29]

Jones self-identifies as a feminist[30] a republican,[31][32][33] and a humanist.[34]

Political opinions[edit]

Jones at Policy Exchange, September 2013

Shortly after the publication of his first book, Jones asserted that he "was one of the few commentators" during the 2011 England riots who was "asked to challenge the dominant narrative that this was mindless criminality, end of story", and criticised how the aftermath was used to demonise working-class youth unjustly.[35] Jones said that he believed the riots were being "manipulated by the government."[36]

In August 2012, Jones criticised American exceptionalism and U.S. military power in an article for The Independent. In 2017 he also criticised what he described as the United States' interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries, juxtaposing it with Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[37]

Jones is gay, often writing about LGBT issues such as homophobia.[38][39] He has also discussed sexism,[40][41] and has rejected identity politics.[42] Jones strongly opposes gay conversion therapy as abusive and psychologically damaging.[43]

Jones has written several articles attacking the rise of Islamophobia, which he has called a "poison".[44] He is a critic of the government's Prevent strategy to combat Islamic extremism in schools and has cited Western foreign policy as one of "a number of factors" responsible for increasing radicalisation within the Muslim population.[45][46] He has criticised what he believes to be anti-Semitic opinions among some left-wingers.[47] Jones is also a critic of British involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen.[48]

In several articles, Jones praised Hugo Chávez, then-President of Venezuela, he is also a supporter of his successor, Nicholas Maduro.[49][50][51]

With regard to the European Union, Jones has expressed euroscepticism and advocated British withdrawal from the European Union.[52] However, at the 2016 referendum on EU membership, he supported Another Europe is Possible's "radical 'in' campaign".[53]

Jones is a supporter of a United Ireland, and spoke at the Sinn Féin Summer School in Baile Bhúirne, West Cork, in July 2015.[54]

In August 2015, Jones endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. He wrote: "As one of the only people with a media platform who isn't hostile to Jeremy — let alone supportive! — I'm pretty much duty-bound to be helpful and rebut the stuff thrown at the campaign as best I can."[55] In July 2016, he endorsed Corbyn to be re-elected as Leader of the Labour Party[56] and, although he had become sceptical over Corbyn's leadership abilities in the interim period – such as claiming that "Labour and the left teeter on the brink of disaster" under his leadership,[57] and that he would "find it hard to vote for Corbyn"[58] – Jones later wrote in The Guardian following the results of the 2017 general election, following the party's better than anticipated result, in which they gained 30 seats and received approximately 40% of the popular vote, that "I owe Corbyn ... an unreserved, and heartfelt apology. I thought people had made their minds up about Corbyn ... [I was] totally wrong."[59]

Jones was described as a staunch critic of Donald Trump during his campaign for the presidency of the United States in 2016.[60] Despite Trump's victory, Jones claims that "the left is stronger than it has been for decades" in the United States due to Trump's failure to win the popular vote, "low" approval ratings and the Republican Party being "riven by divisions".[61]


  1. ^ Jones, Owen (OwenJones84). "Modern capitalism is a sham, and why democratic socialism is our only hope" 30 October 2015, 3:41 AM
  2. ^ "Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  3. ^ a b c "Who the hell is Owen Jones?". 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2016 – via Wayback Machine. 
  4. ^ "Owen Jones: What a fairer Scotland would look like". The Independent. London, UK. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Jones, Owen (9 March 2012). "My father, and the reality of losing your job in middle age". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Phelim Brady (8 February 2013). "Interview: Owen Jones". Varsity.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Jones, Owen (11 October 2013). "Owen Jones goes Back to School: 'Why do people tell you to imagine those interviewing you are naked?'". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Owen Jones". David Higham Literary, Film and TV Agents. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Jones, Owen (1 June 2011). "Abolish Oxbridge". Labour List. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Time to abolish Oxbridge?". The Oxford Student. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "John McDonnell interview: how Labour is moving to the left?". New Statesman. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Owen Jones". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Neather, Andrew (23 April 2011). "The Marx effect". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "About our staff: Owen Jones". Classonline.org.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Jon Cruddas (3 June 2011). "Book of the week: Chavs: the demonization of the working class by Owen Jones". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "The demonisation of the working class: How shows such as The Only Way is Essex have wiped out popular culture". Mail Online. London, UK. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Giving the poor a good kicking". The Economist. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  18. ^ Dwight Garner (12 July 2011). "Get Your Bling and Adidas Tracksuit, Wayne, a British Class War Is Raging". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Garner, Dwight (21 November 2011). "Dwight Garner's Picks for 2011". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  20. ^ Flood, Alison (31 August 2011). "Guardian first book award longlist: fiction takes lead". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "IoS Great Britons 2011". The Independent. London. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Media". Stonewall.org.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  23. ^ "Owen Jones". David Higham. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Dale, Iain (2 October 2012). "Top 100 most influential figures from the Left 2012: 26-50". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  25. ^ Crampton, Caroline (7 February 2013). "Watch: Lord Ashcroft tries to pwn Owen Jones, fails". New Statesman. 
  26. ^ Evans, James (17 February 2013). "TSJ talks to Owen Jones". studentjournals.co.uk. The Student Journals. Archived from the original on 1 August 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2015. [...] I already get people accusing me of being a careerist using his politics to build a profile for himself [...] I fear at the moment I'm unaccountable – no-one has elected me to speak on their behalf, and I worry about just being seen as a lefty rent-a-gob with no mandate to say what he believes. 
  27. ^ Jones, Owen. "How the People's Assembly can challenge our suffocating political consensus and why it's vital that we do", The Independent, 24 March 2013.
  28. ^ Wotherspoon, Jenny "People's Assembly: Writer Owen Jones Helps Build Nationwide Anti-Cuts Movement In The North East" Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Sky Tyne & Wear, 23 May 2013.
  29. ^ "The Royal Television Society Lecture 2013 - 'Totally Shameless: How TV Portrays the Working Class'". BBC. 24 November 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Jones, Owen (24 February 2015). "Why more men should fight for women's rights". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  31. ^ "Republicans gear up for 'biggest anti-monarchy protest in living memory'"". Republic. 24 May 2012. 
  32. ^ "Owen: We Need To Talk About The Monarchy". LBC. 20 August 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2018. 
  33. ^ Jones, Owen (February 8, 2015). "I'm a republican". Twitter. Retrieved January 16, 2018. 
  34. ^ "Owen Jones delivers the Holyoake Lecture 2016". Humanists UK. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2018. 
  35. ^ Jones, Owen (30 April 2012). "Owen Jones: Why 'chavs' were the riots' scapegoats". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  36. ^ "Riots played right into British govt's hands". RT International. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  37. ^ Jones, Owen (5 January 2017). "Americans can spot election meddling because they've been doing it for years". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  38. ^ "Owen Jones does #DryJanuary for Cancer Research UK". Gay Times. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  39. ^ Lees, Paris (23 April 2015). "Paris Lees: 'We won't fix society for trans people without strong allies'". Attitude Magazine. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  40. ^ Jones, Owen (20 April 2014). "What Alan Carr taught me about gay men's homophobia". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  41. ^ Jones, Owen (27 February 2015). "The homophobia in Cucumber is so scary because it taps into a grim reality". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  42. ^ Jones, Owen (2012). Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class (updated ed.). London, UK: Verso. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-84467-864-8. Today, progressive intellectuals are far more interested in issues of identity. ... Of course, the struggles for the emancipation of women, gays, and ethnic minorities are exceptionally important causes. ... But it is an agenda that has happily co-existed with the sidelining of the working class in politics, allowing New Labour to protect its radical flank while pressing ahead with Thatcherite policies. 
  43. ^ We can’t stand silent while the right abuses free speech The Guardian
  44. ^ Jones, Owen (12 July 2012). "Islamophobia - for Muslims, read Jews. And be shocked". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  45. ^ Jones, Owen (1 July 2015). "Government policy will seal the mouths of Muslim pupils". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  46. ^ Jones, Owen (19 June 2015). "David Cameron, inadvertent PR man for Islamic extremists". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  47. ^ Jones, Owen (26 August 2015). "Antisemitism has no place on the left. It is time to confront it". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  48. ^ Jones, Owen (28 January 2016). "Britain is at war with Yemen. So why does nobody know about it?". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  49. ^ Jones, Owen (8 October 2012). "Hugo Chavez proves you can lead a progressive, popular government that says no to neo-liberalism". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  50. ^ Jones, Owen (6 March 2013). "Hugo Chavez was a democrat, not a dictator, and showed a progressive alternative to neo-liberalism is both possible and popular". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  51. ^ Jones, Owen (26 February 2014). "Socialism's critics look at Venezuela and say, 'We told you so'. But they are wrong". The Independent. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  52. ^ See:
  53. ^ Another Europe (21 February 2016). "Tweet Number 701381744893816832". Twitter. Retrieved 26 March 2016. Pleased to have the support of Owen Jones for the radical 'in' campaign. Welcome on board OJ! 
  54. ^ "British author". The Irish News. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  55. ^ Jones, Owen (29 August 2015). "My honest thoughts on the Corbyn campaign — and overcoming formidable obstacles". Medium. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  56. ^ Sommers, Jack; Harris, Sarah Ann (22 September 2016). "Owen Jones Backs Jeremy Corbyn 'To Give Him Another Chance' But Warns He Must Poll Better". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  57. ^ "This Owen Jones Blog Could Have Just Changed The Labour Leadership Race". HuffPost UK. 1 August 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  58. ^ "Owen Jones: I'd find it hard to vote for Corbyn | Coffee House". Coffee House. Spectator. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  59. ^ "The Corbyn critics who admit they were wrong". iNews. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  60. ^ Allergetti, Aubrey (8 December 2015). "Donald Trump Decried By Owen Jones As 'Recruiting Sergeant For Terrorism'". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  61. ^ Jones, Owen (21 January 2017). "The American left will be reborn under President Trump". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 

External links[edit]