Featured, Video | 6th May 2015

Owen Jones on ‘The Establishment’, political heroes and the Left (Video)

May2015 speaks to one of the most popular voices on the Left about Labour, the election and ‘The Establishment’.

Photo: Charles Morris

By and

With the election now just days away, May2015 spoke with the columnist, author and broadcaster Owen Jones last week.

We discussed his latest book, ‘The Establishment’, now out in paperback; Labour’s future; and his past.

Jones has become known through his words, from his book, ‘Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class’, to his weekly columns in the Guardian (and his pieces in the New Statesman, for whom he is a contributing editor), but here are a series of videos – nearly a dozen – if you’d like to learn about his book and ideas in a different way.

‘Think about your kids.’

First, here is Jones’ pre-election message to potential Tory voters. Skip forward to 01:00 to avoid some meandering questioning.

Are the Greens a force for good?

Did Tony Blair achieve anything?

“There were lots of achievements”, Jones thinks, from devolution, to peace in Northern Ireland, the minimum wage, investment in public services, and LGBT rights.

“But the problem is, we often end up in this bizarre situation, where we have to defend New Labour’s achievements against its own people. The biggest lie, not myth, the biggest lie in British politics is that Labour spent too much on schools and hospitals before the crisis. The Tories backed Labour spending plans pound-for-pound until the end of 2008.”

Is Tony Benn your political hero?

“Sod it, it was a hero,” Jones concludes, after initially demurring. He retells one story he’s since heard about Benn, “In his last hours, there I was on TV arguing about the Labour movement and socialism with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo, who obviously weren’t sympathetic about it.”

As for being a left-wing figure in the UK, he adds, “It’s funny, they either demonise you or they patronise you, and both attempt to kill you off in a different way. They demonised him [Benn] as the most dangerous man in Britain, but then in his later years he was a kindly old gentleman.”

‘The Establishment’ in 30 seconds

How has the ‘Establishment’ changed?

One of the key concepts in his book is ‘The Overton Window’ – here he explains it.

Finally, what does the future hold for Jones?

Interview by Harry Lambert, editor of May2015. Video production by Charles Morris, executive editor.