Owen Jones

YouTuber, English columnist, author and commentator

Owen Peter Jones (born 8 August 1984) is a British newspaper columnist, commentator and political activist.


"The left must put Britain's EU withdrawal on the agenda" (2015)Edit

The left must put Britain's EU withdrawal on the agenda (14 July 2015), The Guardian
  • At first, only a few dipped their toes in the water; then others, hesitantly, followed their lead, all the time looking at each other for reassurance. As austerity-ravaged Greece was placed under what Yanis Varoufakis terms a “postmodern occupation”, its sovereignty overturned and compelled to implement more of the policies that have achieved nothing but economic ruin, Britain’s left is turning against the European Union, and fast. [...] The more leftwing opponents of the EU come out, the more momentum will gather pace and gain critical mass. For those of us on the left who have always been critical of the EU, it has felt like a lonely crusade. But left support for withdrawal – “Lexit”, if you like – is not new. If anything, this new wave of left Euroscepticism represents a reawakening.
  • Much of the left campaigned against entering the European Economic Community when Margaret Thatcher and the like campaigned for membership. It would threaten the ability of leftwing governments to implement policies, people like my parents thought, and would forbid the sort of industrial activism needed to protect domestic industries. But then Thatcherism happened, and an increasingly battered and demoralised left began to believe that the only hope of progressive legislation was via Brussels. The misery of the left was, in the 1980s, matched by the triumphalism of the free marketeers, who had transformed Britain beyond many of their wildest ambitions, and began to balk at the restraints put on their dreams by the European project.
  • The left’s pessimism about the possibility of implementing social reform at home without the help of the EU fused with a progressive vision of internationalism and unity, one that had emerged from the rubble of fascism and genocidal war. It is perhaps this feelgood halo that has been extinguished by a country the EU has driven into an economic collapse unseen since America’s great depression. It was German and French banks who recklessly lent to Greece that have benefited from bailouts, not the Greek economy. The destruction of Greece’s national sovereignty was achieved by economic strangulation, [...] this was all about crushing a rebellion.
  • Let’s just be honest about our fears. We fear that we will inadvertently line up with the xenophobes and the immigrant-bashing nationalists, and a “no” result will be seen as their vindication, unleashing a carnival of Ukippery. Hostility to the EU is seen as the preserve of the hard right, and not the sort of thing progressives should entertain. And that is why – if indeed much of the left decides on Lexit – it must run its own separate campaign and try and win ownership of the issue. Such a campaign would focus on building a new Britain, one of workers’ rights, a genuine living wage, public ownership, industrial activism and tax justice. Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago.
  • Lexit may be seen as a betrayal of solidarity with the left in the EU: Syriza and Podemos in Spain are trying to change the institution, after all, not leave it. Syriza’s experience illustrates just how forlorn that cause is. But in any case, the threat of Brexit would help them. Germany has little incentive to change tack: it benefits enormously from the current arrangements. If its behaviour is seen to be causing the break-up of the EU, it will strengthen the hand of those opposing the status quo. The case for Lexit grows ever stronger, and – at the very least – more of us need to start dipping our toes in the water.



  • We have a moral duty to offer support and safety to LGBT people fleeing repression for which Britain shares responsibility. ... It is now Pride season in Britain. Members of the government will wrap themselves in the rainbow flag and issue self-congratulatory statements about how far LGBT rights have come. Don’t let them get away with it. Gay and lesbian refugees are being detained and deported to countries where their safety is at risk, even their lives. The Windrush scandal should lead to a much wider conversation about the persecution of migrants and refugees. ... The architects of the British empire helped construct anti-gay laws across the globe that still endure today. The victims of such persecution need our support. Instead, they are being terrorised. It is a national scandal – and the silence over it must end.

About JonesEdit

  • Progressive head scratching as to what word might project the same corrective menace as terf (originally a small group’s chosen acronym, now applied at random), seems to have ended officially with this offering from my Guardian colleague, Owen Jones. "If," he mused last week, "TERF" [Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist] is unacceptable, let’s just use 'transphobe' and 'transphobic', problem solved." Given that this guidance comes from the man who admirably closed down "chav" because it "demonised" the working classes, there seems every chance that "transphobe" will become the approved term for people who think, for instance, that there might be one or two arguments for preserving certain women-only spaces.
  • On election eve, the Guardian journalist and Momentum activist Owen Jones posted a photograph of himself in a grinning thumbs-up with a young woman whose T-shirt slogan read: "Will suck d*** for socialism."
    I apologise for the crudeness. But reading this filled me (and many others) with disgust and despair. Not just because it took the old Stokely Carmichael notion that a woman’s place in the revolution is "prone" and rebranded it as woke feminism. But because it encapsulated the worst of Corbyn Labour: believing a crass, narcissistic social media clique, which it allowed to act as party proxies on radio or TV, was a useful electoral tool. Here was Jones, a Labour insider with a million Twitter followers and a national newspaper column, writing about women giving sexual favours for votes as Britain went to the polls. I thought of the words on a magnificent Dockers Union banner: "We shall not cease until all destitution, prostitution and exploitation is swept away" and wondered how Labour fell so low.

External linksEdit

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