Owen Jones (writer)

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Not to be confused with other writers named Owen Jones, such as Owen Jones (antiquary) and Owen Jones (architect).
Owen Jones
Owen Jones.jpeg
Jones in May 2014
Born (1984-08-08) 8 August 1984 (age 31)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, UK
  • 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 Jones's voice

Official Tumblr account, Official Twitter account, Official Independent profile, Official Guardian profile, Official New Statesman profile.

Owen Jones (born 8 August 1984) is a British columnist, author, commentator and political activist from a democratic socialist perspective.[1] He is a columnist for The Guardian and, since 2015, for the New Statesman, and a former contributor to The Independent. He has also set up a YouTube channel whereby he uploads videos and interviews, some of which appear on the official website of the Guardian.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Sheffield and grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester,[2] and briefly in Falkirk, Scotland.[3] His father was a local authority worker and trade-union shop steward,[4] and his mother is an IT lecturer.[4] He describes himself as a "4th generation socialist"; his grandfather was involved with the Communist Party and his parents met as members of the Trotskyist Militant tendency.[5]

He attended Bramhall High School and Ridge Danyers Sixth Form College[6] before studying history at University College, Oxford, graduating with a BA in 2005 and a Master of Studies (MSt) in US history in 2007.[7] Before entering journalism, Jones worked as a trade-union lobbyist and was a parliamentary researcher for left-wing Labour politician John McDonnell, a backbencher who became Shadow Chancellor in 2015.[8][9]

Writings and public career[edit]

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.[2][10] 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 programme.[2] Jones writes from a left-wing perspective; Andrew Neather has cited Jones' Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class as a contributory factor in a resurgence of left-wing-themed ideas.[11] He is a member of the National Advisory Panel for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, a left-wing think tank.[12]

Jones speaking in October 2013

In 2011, Jones' first book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class 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.[13][14][15][16][17][18] 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.[19] Jones' second book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It was published in September 2014.[20]

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.[21] In November 2012, Jones was awarded Journalist of the Year at the Stonewall Awards, along with The Times journalist Hugo Rifkind.[22] In February 2013 when Jones was awarded the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award, he donated half the prize money to support the campaign of Lisa Forbes, a Labour parliamentary candidate and the other half to Disabled People Against Cuts.[23] 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".[24]

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.[25][26][27] In November 2013 he delivered the Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture, Totally Shameless: How TV Portrays the Working Class.[28]

Issues and controversy[edit]

2011 England riots[edit]

Shortly after the publication of his first book, Jones claims that he was "was one of the few commentators during that turbulent week [referencing the 2011 England riots] asked to challenge the dominant narrative that this was mindless criminality", which he claims further demonised working-class youth unjustly.[29] He claimed the riots "played right into" the British governments hands, saying that:

I think these riots are being manipulated by the government. People are understandably angered and scared, but what this government is doing – is using this to justify attacks on people who are on benefits. We’ve seen attacks on single parents, this idea of fatherless families which are made responsible. We’ve recently seen attacks on civil liberty and even these attacks on social media to be closed down ...
Justice needs to be proportionate to the crime. If you take away all forms of income and all forms of housing from people, than what reason [do they have] not to be involved in criminality? That becomes their only means of survival. ...
What happened was completely inexcusable, but when you have enough people who feel they have no future, only a small proportion of those is needed to respond in this outrageous way to make chaos in the streets of London.[30]

Jones became "the centre of one of the ugliest episodes of the backlash" as he put it, when he was involved in an interview with David Starkey;[29] during the interview, Starkey referenced the infamous Rivers of Blood speech by Enoch Powell, and blamed a type of "black culture" for the riots, saying that "the whites have become black".[31] Starkey's comments were widely condemned, including by Jones himself,[29] claiming that "multiculturalism and ethnic groups have nothing to do with what happened".[30]

Donald Trump[edit]

Jones has been described as "a staunch critic of the Republican frontrunner" Donald Trump during Trump's campaign for presidency of the United States in 2016.[32] Following controversy over Trump's proposals for a compulsory halt on Muslim immigration to the US, Jones said in his column for The Guardian that "Trump demonstrates that Islamic State is winning", adding that: "One of the [IS's] strategic aims is to divide western societies from western Muslim communities: to fuel a sense among Muslims that they are rejected, unwanted, even despised, driving them into the camp of global jihad. ... Trump is a menace, an inciter of bigotry and a recruiting sergeant for terrorism – and this must be taken seriously."[33] His comments received support on Twitter and other social media, and "was commended for being eloquent, important and highlighting the 'real dangers' of a Trump presidency."[32]


Jones identifies as gay and was described by Gay Times magazine as a "prominent voice for the LGBT community". "The fact that I can be openly gay is a product of all the struggles that’ve gone before me", he said in early 2016.[34] Jones has spoken out against the perceived homophobia of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland,[35] and is a supporter of a United Ireland, speaking at a Sinn Féin summer school in Ireland in July 2015.[36] Jones does not support Scottish independence or the SNP.[37]

Jones has been described as "possibly the greatest defender of Pablo Iglesias's party" Podemos by Bernardo Gutiérrez González (writing in openDemocracy), saying that one of the greatest traits of Podemos was to give up the traditional symbolisms of the left and talk with others in more accessible language.[38]


  1. ^ Jones, Owen (OwenJones84). "Modern capitalism is a sham, and why democratic socialism is our only hope" 30 October 2015, 3:41 AM
  2. ^ a b c "Who the hell is Owen Jones?". 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2016 – via Wayback Machine. 
  3. ^ "Owen Jones: What a fairer Scotland would look like". The Independent (London). 5 February 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Jones, Owen (9 March 2012). "My father, and the reality of losing your job in middle age". The Independent (London). Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Phelim Brady (8 February 2013). "Interview: Owen Jones | Varsity Online". Varsity.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Jones, Owen (1 June 2011). "Abolish Oxbridge". Labour List. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Owen Jones". David Higham Literary, Film and TV Agents. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Time to abolish Oxbridge?". The Oxford Student. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "John McDonnell interview: how Labour is moving to the left?". The New Statesman. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Owen Jones". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Neather, Andrew (23 April 2011). "The Marx effect". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "''The Centre for Labour and Social Studies'' About our staff: Owen Jones". Classonline.org.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "The demonisation of the working class: How shows such as The Only Way is Essex have wiped out popular culture". Mail Online (London). 6 June 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Giving the poor a good kicking". The Economist. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ Garner, Dwight (21 November 2011). "Dwight Garner’s Picks for 2011". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Flood, Alison (31 August 2011). "Guardian first book award longlist: fiction takes lead". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "IoS Great Britons 2011". The Independent (London). 18 December 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Owen Jones". David Higham. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Dale, Iain (2 October 2012). "Top 100 most influential figures from the Left 2012: 26-50". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Media". Stonewall.org.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Crampton, Caroline. "Watch: Lord Ashcroft tries to pwn Owen Jones, fails", New Statesman (Staggers Politics blog), 7 February 2013.
  24. ^ Evans, James (17 February 2013). "TSJ talks to Owen Jones". studentjournals.co.uk. The Student Journals. Archived from the original on 1 August 2004. 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. 
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Wotherspoon, Jenny "People's Assembly: Writer Owen Jones Helps Build Nationwide Anti-Cuts Movement In The North East", Sky Tyne & Wear, 23 May 2013
  27. ^ Rath, Marc "Popular writer joins comedian at anti-cuts rally", This is Bristol, 30 May 2013
  28. ^ "The Royal Television Society Lecture 2013 - 'Totally Shameless: How TV Portrays the Working Class'". BBC. 24 November 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c Jones, Owen (30 April 2012). "Owen Jones: Why 'chavs' were the riots’ scapegoats". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  30. ^ a b ""Riots played right into British govt’s hands"". RT International. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  31. ^ "England riots: 'The whites have become black' says David Starkey". BBC News. 13 August 2011. 
  32. ^ a b Allergetti, Aubrey (8 December 2015). "Donald Trump Decried By Owen Jones As 'Recruiting Sergeant For Terrorism'". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  33. ^ Jones, Owen (8 December 2015). "Donald Trump's real threat is making extreme bigots seem moderate". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016 – via the Wayback Machine. 
  34. ^ "Owen Jones does #DryJanuary for Cancer Research UK - Gay Times". Gay Times. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  35. ^ Stroude, Will (5 May 2015). "Owen Jones warns of 'homophobic' DUP holding influence over future government". Attitude Magazine. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  36. ^ "British author". The Irish News. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  37. ^ "Owen Jones Says He Would Vote 'No' in Scottish Independence referendum". The Huffington Post. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2016 – via AOL.com. 
  38. ^ González, Bernardo Gutiérrez (5 January 2016). "The 'Podemos wave' as a global hope". openDemocracy. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 

External links[edit]