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Owen Jones (1984–) is a British writer and journalist for The Guardian, known for his activism for left-wing ideology and for LGBT rights. He has also written two critically-acclaimed books: Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class and The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, and hosts a YouTube channel where he spends most of his time either
asking softball leading questions to providing tough hard-hitting interviews with other prominent left-wing (and often not-so-left-wing) figures, or general soapboxing.
However, Jones is criticized for being a melodramatic, scaremongering, champagne socialist, Muslim sympathising member of the liberal metropolitan elite who looks like, and has the life experience and skin thickness of a 12-year-old boy. Suspicions that he didn't mean it were challenged when, in July 2019, he was beaten up by a far-right thug just after leaving a bar in London.
On Jeremy Corbyn
Owen Jones has generally been a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and endorsed him in both the 2015 and 2016 Labour leadership elections. However, as time went on, Jones soon became disillusioned with Corbyn's consistently low poll numbers, and following Labour's relatively poor performance in the Stoke by-election of 2017, came close to calling for his resignation from the Labour party. This all changed following Theresa May's disastrous 2017 election campaign in which the Conservatives lost their majority and in which Labour managed to almost completely close the Conservatives' 20-point lead in the polls, at which point Jones reverted to wholeheartedly backing Corbyn as Labour leader and apologised for his earlier doubts.
Jones used to be a prominent proponent of left-wing Brexit (Lexit), however during the 2016 Brexit referendum decided that it would be better to back the Remain campaign. Since then, Jones has consistently been a staunch critic of the Leave campaign, as well as the attempts of the tabloid press to smear Remain supporters as traitors.
On his books
In Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, Jones makes the elementary error of confusing the working class, that is, those who work (often manually) for a living, and are thus placed in NRS Social Grades C2 and D, with the NEETs, that is, those not in employment, education, or training, and thus in Grade E. Grades C2D correspond roughly to the American idea of blue-collar workers, while Grade E are the welfare-dependent and homeless.
In general use, the NRS Social Grades, depending on the user, are based on one's either long-term or instant occupation (rather than the occupation of one's parents or etiquette-based dog whistles such as how one's slippers are embroidered); so they're equivalent, more or less, to the notions of the intelligentsia, proletariat, and lumpenproletariat as defined by Karl Marx. Jones, a left-wing activist and writer, not remembering this is telling; either he genuinely forgot, which seriously impugns his credibility, or he deliberately conflated the working and benefit/welfare classes to make his argument stronger.
This was frequently, and not always politely, noted in Amazon reviews, often by blue-collar workers themselves.
First, he doesn’t distinguish between those in the working class who actually work and those who subsist on state handouts. In fact, he continually switches back and forth between the two. He would insist that this is because the media and politicians see them as one stratum – that they have “demonized” the working class by portraying them all as feckless bums.
Second, he doesn’t make a good case for cause and effect. Is the dysfunctional behaviour of the underclass (as distinct from the working class) the result of their poverty or the cause of it? He condemns the latter view out-of-hand. He cites Charles Murray (Coming Apart: The State of White America) but dismisses him as a pseudo-sociologist and an apologist for the ruling class. According to Jones, the underclass are victims, pure and simple.
However this is itself based on a myth about benefit-recipients and ignores the fact that most recipients of benefits in the UK are either in work or retired, and most unemployed people are unemployed for less than a year, rather than being members of a never-working delinquent underclass.
His second book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away with it, relates to how the government, media, police and big money collude to push a right-wing neoliberal political and economic consensus, erode workers' rights and neglect the concerns of the poor in the UK. Although the book generally received positive critical reception, there has been criticism of how Jones has used the word 'establishment' to refer to anyone in power whose ideas he generally finds unpalatable. Some have suggested that Jones would have been better off referring to the 'establishment' as the 'consensus' instead.
He is an active campaigner for LGBT rights, including trans rights, often feuding with TERFs as well as other transphobes and homophobes. This has led to him being accused of being a misogynist by far-right polemicist Douglas Murray. Jones says that accusations of misogyny are a cynical tactic by transphobes, akin to Lyndon Johnson accusing his opponents of having intercourse with pigs. Jones has also been the subject of criticism by prominent ex-Guardian TERF Suzanne Moore. Moore claims that he led a campaign to have her thrown out of the Guardian, but Jones denies this and says he didn't lead the group protesting transphobia in the Guardian, which also didn't specifically target Moore, and Moore's claims of being "hounded out" were false because she left voluntarily for the Telegraph after having her contract renewed.
In August 2019, he was assaulted outside a pub in King's Cross, North London, by a far-right football hooligan. A court found that the man chiefly involved in the assault, James Healy, had memorabilia associated with neo-nazi group Combat 18, Northern Irish loyalist group Loyalist Volunteer Force, and Chelsea football hooligans, and was motivated by Jones's "LGBT and his leftwing beliefs".
- Peter Hitchens full-length interview Owen Jones Talks
- Orlando Shooting Debate: Sky News Press Preview. YouTube, 13 June 2016.
- Man found guilty of aggravated assault against Owen Jones, The Guardian, 17 January 2020
- Jeremy Corbyn must make a decision about his future as Labour leader Owen Jones Talks
- Richard McCallum, book review of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones, Amazon, 9 January 2013.
- Benefits in Britain: separating the facts from the fiction, The Observer, 6 Apr 2013
- Length of time spent in unemployment, ONS, 16 October 2019
- Staines, Paul (6 September 2014). "Owen Jones’s new book should be called The Consensus: And How I Want to Change it". The Spectator. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
- Does Owen Jones have a woman problem?, Douglas Murray, Unherd, 6 August 2021
- The lies of anti-trans rights activists need to be rebutted once and for all, Owen Jones, Medium, 6 August 2021