Owen jones

Should politicians leave the wealthy alone?

Bashing the rich has become trendy. Last night, the Spectator hosted a debate at the Guildhall School of Drama on whether the rich have contributed their fair share to society, or if we should ramp up wealth taxes. It’s a very emotive topic and each of the speakers made a solid case for and against the motion: politicians should leave the wealthy alone — they already contribute more than their fair share. Proposing the motion, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson described how London is a city ‘shaped by the super rich,’ pointing out the number of places that serve a £20 vodka martini. But Fraser argued that society needs these wealthy people and

Was food poverty actually higher under the last Labour government?

I’m looking forward to tonight’s Spectator debate in which Fraser Nelson, William Cash and I will be taking on Owen Jones, Jack Monroe and Molly Scott Cato MEP over the issue of whether the rich should pay more in tax. One thing I’m sure Owen and his colleagues will do is point to figures released today from Trussell Trust food banks that seem to show that over a million people are now using their facilities. In fact, this figure is misleading, as Full Fact has pointed out: ‘The claim that over a million people are using Trussell Trust food banks is inaccurate. It comes from confusing the number of different people using Trussell Trust food

Watch live: Spectator wealth debate with Owen Jones, Jack Monroe, Toby Young and Fraser Nelson

The Spectator will host a debate at 7.00pm this evening on whether ‘Politicians should leave the wealthy alone, because they already contribute more than their fair share’. Fraser Nelson, Toby Young and William Cash will go head-to-head with Owen Jones, Jack Monroe and Molly Scott Cato, with Andrew Neil chairing the debate. The debate has now sold out, but if you were unable to get tickets, we are offering Coffee House readers an exclusive chance to watch the debate live from 7.00pm. You can sign up here prior to the debate, then when the debate begins, you will be able to view the event live, as well as comment and vote on the motion. It’s going to

Did Owen Jones once describe an ‘anti-Semitic trope’ as ‘eloquent’ during a book talk?

Today Owen Jones has criticised Michael Fallon for using the term ‘stabbed in the back’ to describe what he thinks Ed Miliband would do to Britain over Trident. The Guardian columnist has gone so far as to say that the phrase is ‘anti-Semitic’. Michael Fallon’s “stabbed in the back” metaphor is deeply sinister. It is a classic anti-Semitic trope — Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) April 9, 2015 However, Mr S understands that Jones may not have always been so averse to the term. In 2011, Jones gave a Bookmarks Bookshop talk about his book  Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class as part of the annual Trades Union Congress. Writing for the Enlightenment Blues blog,

The media and political elite need to stop treating the electorate like dogs

There are many grating phrases in modern British politics. ‘Best practice.’ ‘Fit for purpose.’ ‘Let me explain’ (just bloody well explain!). And that tendency of Labour politicians to preface pretty much everything they say with a schoolmarmish ‘Look’, as in ‘Look here’. As in: ‘You donuts know nothing, so I am going to put you straight.’ But even more grating than those, sat at the top of the pile of temperature-raising sayings, is ‘dog-whistle’. Everyone’s talking about ‘dog-whistle politics’. It has become the media and chattering classes’ favourite putdown of politicians they don’t like: to accuse them of indulging in dog-whistle antics, of making an ugly shrill noise — that

Toby Young

Lefty myths about inequality

As a Tory, I’ve been thinking a lot about inequality recently. Has it really increased in the past five years? Or is that just scaremongering on the part of the left? By most measures, there’s not much evidence that the United Kingdom became more unequal in the last parliament. Take the UK’s ‘Gini co-efficient’, which measures income inequality. In 2009/10, it was higher than it was at any point during the subsequent three years. Indeed, in 2011/12 it fell to its lowest level since 1986. Data isn’t available for the last two years, but there’s no reason to think it has exceeded what it was when Labour left office. George

What does it say about Owen Jones that he isn’t interested in scientific research?

Owen Jones writes in the Guardian today on the subject of trans rights, making a revealing statement in the process. He says: ‘In truth, debates over the latest scientific research are of little interest to me: what matters is that the happiness, security and even lives of a minority are at stake, and all too little has been done about it.’ I’ve no desire to get involved in this particular debate, partly because I don’t know enough and I also don’t want to spend ten years getting harassed and threatened like Julie Bindel. One should never underestimate the threat of violence in shifting public debate, not just in religious matters. I

Spectator books of the year: Matthew Parris on his growing fear that Owen Jones might be right

As the year unwinds I’m rebuked by hints all around me that a book I comprehensively panned in Literary Review is basically true. The Establishment and How They Get Away With It by Owen Jones (Allen Lane, £16.99) is an intellectual mess, paranoid, partial and partisan; and its central thesis — that we are unwitting slaves of a grand, overarching conspiracy, all cooked up by wicked right-wing forces — is bollocks. Jones is a brave and brilliant voice in danger of trapping himself in a leftist niche. His book’s tone is shouty and its analysis shallow. But once you’ve understood — and with a snort dismissed — his hunch that a tiny proportion of

Russell Brand and Johann Hari – the revolutionary dream team

‘I don’t think Russell Brand has read much Orwell’, says the Catholic Herald, responding to the multi-millionaire revolutionary’s YouTube claim that IS are less of a threat than David Cameron: ‘Not just because he recently described Owen Jones as our generation’s incarnation of the left-wing iconoclast, but because yesterday he engaged in the kind of apologia for foreign fascism which the great man built his reputation on condemning.’ Brand’s video has now been seen by more than 200,000 people, and guess who is helping him make these visual treats happen? Non other than the self-confessed plagiarist and disgraced former Indy columnist Johann Hari. Hari was the ideological lodestar for the

Owen Jones: ‘Our generation’s Orwell’?

Calling in a favour from a comrade to help flog your new book is hardly a new trick, but Mr S wonders if Owen Jones really thought this one through: Thankfully, Russell ‘the revolution is coming’ Brand is not known for his outrageous hyperbole.

It’s OK to mention anti-Semitic attacks – but not who commits them

I was attacked by a swan the other day, as I walked along the bank of the River Stour in Kent. The creature climbed out of the water and lunged towards me, wings puffed up, making this guttural and hate-filled coughing noise. I kicked out at its stupid neck and told it to fuck off and the bird backed away towards the river, still making that demented hissing, like a badly maintained boiler. At first I was mystified as to how I had gained its enmity. I wasn’t near its mate and still further distant from its sallow and bedraggled idiot children. Nor had I advanced towards it, or even

Owen Jones is lying about Israel. Plain and simple.

Owen Jones’s column in the Guardian is headlined ‘Anti-Jewish hatred is rising – we must see it for what it is.’ Sadly the article falls well short of that headline’s aspiration. At one point in the piece Owen singles me out for criticism: ‘Take Douglas Murray, a writer with a particular obsession with Islam.’ (I suppose ‘obsession’, rather than ‘interest’, say, is intended to suggest something untoward. But I confess that I am indeed especially interested in one of the major stories of our day.) Owen goes on to say of me: ‘“Thousands of anti-Semites have today succeeded in bringing central London to an almost total standstill” was his reprehensible

Why Owen Jones is wrong on housing

Columnists like the Guardian’s Owen Jones have perpetuated a myth that harms rather than eases access to truly affordable homes for the impoverished on whose behalf they campaign. Taken in by the rhetoric of special interest groups, they recycle claims that house building is stymied by Treasury restrictions on council borrowing. Abolishing this ‘cap’ would help town halls to ‘resolve the housing crisis’ by constructing ‘hundreds of thousands of homes’. So says Jones in his personal manifesto: ‘Agenda for Hope’. But Jones and others who adhere to such views are not only misguided. They are diverting attention from the real and practical problems that need to be urgently fixed: that

Who’ll tell the anti-austerity marchers that government spending is at a record high?

‘No cuts!’ said banners held at the march on Whitehall today. Well, the Treasury is listening. It has pushed state spending to £732 billion this year, up from £673 billion under the last year of the Labour government. So why the fuss? My guess: lefties like to march and call for the downfall of governments. It’s their way of enjoying the weather. It’s a nice day today, some of us have been out celebrating midsummer and those of an angry, leftie disposition have been doing some placard waving. Each to his own. But as the below graph shows, it’s rather hard to accuse this government of savage cuts:- [datawrapper chart=”http://static.spectator.co.uk/8k37c/index.html”]

Owen Jones: ‘the BBC is stacked full of right wingers’

Owen Jones has denied that Newsnight’s appointment of former Labour adviser and TUC official Duncan Weldon as economics correspondent is more evidence of ‘left wing bias’ at the BBC. On the contrary, Jones says that complaints about Weldon arise from ‘myths and deception’ and that the ‘BBC is stacked full of right wingers’. Now, now, no laughing at the back please – we ought to take the Guardian’s star columnist seriously. Jones names 10 people who are connected to the right (some of them very tenuously so): Chris Patten, Nick Robinson, Robbie Gibb, Thea Rogers, Guto Harri, Will Walden, Andrew Neil, Kamal Ahmed, John Humphrys and Craig Oliver. He neglects

Owen Jones’s letter to Ukip voters exposes the Left’s blind spot

I try to avoid mentioning Owen Jones because he already gets so much attention from people on the Right, including quite a lot of abuse on t’internet; the poor man’s probably blocked more people than have followed me. But his letter to Ukip voters in today’s Independent interested me as a study in what Jonathan Haidt described as the Left’s blind spot. Owen’s argument is that Ukip supporters have Left-wing views on the economy and therefore should desert former City trader Nigel Farage and join him in voting for a socialist party. A lot of Ukippers (horrible word but I can’t think of any other) do have fairly socialistic views

Is eastern European immigration a result of the working class being demonised?

We had a Bulgarian chap do up our house. Lovely guy, worked all day and never wanted a break, and I didn’t have to drop my aitches or pretend to like football around him. Actually he turned out to be Polish but after weeks of me asking questions about Bulgaria he presumably felt too embarrassed and just played along with it. But there are many Bulgarians working in north London, and Birmingham, and they tend to be quite skilled, there being restrictions on who can work here. Naturally as those restrictions are removed, and as the quantity of immigration goes up, the quality goes down. MigrationWatch claim that net migration

The View from 22 — North Korea and Asia’s arms race, and Owen Jones vs. Toby Young

Are Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms necessary to bring fairness to our benefits system? This week’s Spectator leading article argues the work and pensions secretary returned to front-line politics for one reason only — to end the present waste of human potential. Author and Independent columnist Owen Jones disagrees; he debates with our associate editor Toby Young on this week’s View form 22 podcast (10:38). Will IDS’ reforms radically change the welfare system for the better? Is the government striving for more or less equality? And will the coalition’s legacy stand up to closer scrutiny from the left at the next general election? Clarissa Tan discusses her cover feature on

The People’s Assembly is sound and fury signifying nothing

Haven’t you heard? Today is the official launch of the People’s Assembly, a grassroots movement to amplify ‘progressive opinion’ in the public square. Think Arab Spring, but for Brits who don’t have quite as much to rage about. It’s being launched by Owen Jones, Mark Steel, Caroline Lucas, and other such luminaries. The main thrust of their campaign seems to be against cuts. ‘It’s springtime for opposition to the nightmare of austerity,’ says Jones, deftly combining metaphors. ‘The People’s Assembly offers the one thing missing from British politics: Hope.’ Hope and change! Springtime! Who doesn’t want that? The trouble is, I’m not so sure that actual people agree with the People’s Assembly’s founding premise. Polls often

Is that a ‘no’ then, Owen?

To my simple suggestion that Owen Jones apologise for claiming that an 11-month old child killed by a Hamas rocket was in fact killed by an Israeli ‘so-called targeted strike’, Owen appears to have answered ‘no’. He starts his reply: ‘In the last couple of years I’ve learned one thing: the right don’t like me very much, and expend a sizeable amount of energy attacking me personally rather than my writing.’ In saying that he has learned even ‘one thing’ I fear Owen exaggerates. He begins his next paragraph: ‘Hard right pseudo-intellectual [Douglas] Murray…’ Nothing worse than attacking a person rather than their writing is there? Of course it is