Owen Jones

March to save the NHS

First published on Progress Online for The Last Word

Save our NHS, time to speak truth to power on Copeland, gongs gone wrong and thank Lord for the upper house – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Tomorrow I, along with thousands of other Labour activists, will be taking to the street to defend our National Health Service. As shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth put it, ‘the NHS is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history’ – and Saturday is our opportunity to call on the government to do something about it. A national social care crisis has brought social care to its knees, crippling local government, and forcing the Red Cross to describe the situation in Britain’s health service as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

There are those that would seek to convince you that these pressures were inevitable – that, had Labour won the last election, these issues would have devilled Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham as they do Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt. They are wrong. Britain’s health and social care problems are a direct result of seven years of chronic underfunding – a political choice. Each of us has a duty to hold the Tories to account. However, Labour wanting to defend the NHS with every sinew did not save use in Copeland and it will not save us nationally. Hopefully, our actions can save it.

I hope you will be joining me this weekend. (more…)

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The class pay gap

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Alan Milburn leading the way on social mobility, Clive Lewis’ campaign team, May’s US speech and Holocaust Memorial Day  – Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Alan Milburn is doing the Labour party’s job for it … again. His work on social mobility continues to chart a path towards achieving Labour’s historic mission: breaking the link between the postcode you are born into and where you end up in life. In fact, few in Labour other than Milburn have looked seriously at how to tackle social mobility in the United Kingdom. The only exception I can think of is Tristram Hunt’s work on character education, that he commended back to the party in his recent letter resigning from the House of Commons. Based on a report commissioned by the all-party parliamentary group on social mobility and conducted by the Education Policy Institute. Ed Miliband, who never gave a speech on the issue or primary or secondary education in all the time her was leader of the opposition, had such low regard for the issue ‘there was more in Labour’s 2015 manifesto on handrails in old people’s homes than education’, an extremely frustrated Hunt told a post-general election Progress audience. (more…)

The Safety of a Gay Bar

First published on the Huffington Post

When I was 18 I worked in a village pub. One evening two customers did not really like my style behind the bar. I did not know what I had done to annoy them and carried on with my tasks, and the evening passed. The two in question were some of the last to leave, something I thought little of at the time. I left at the end of my shift and drove home. Within seconds of leaving the drive my clapped-out Micra was pelted with stones and some very unpleasant words about my sexuality followed in the same direction.

I was not hurt, nor was my little car (not that you would have been able to tell) but I was shaken. Instead of heading to bed I went on auto pilot to a place called Pink Punters. It is Fenny Stratford’s finest, just outside Bletchley/Milton Keynes off the A5. It’s a curious location for a gay bar but it was the scene of many a good night out in my teens. It was a place of joy. On this night, it was a place of safety. (more…)

Concrete action needed

Time for the hedging on antisemitism in Labour to end

2016-03-14-merkel-antisemmitismuskonferenz

First published in Progress magazine

Following the 2012 presidential election in the United States, I attended an event on the result. Impressive speakers talked about their experiences of the campaigns and what would come next. Only one comment sticks in my mind. It was in response to a question about a ‘rape apologist’ Republican Senate candidate. The panellist replied saying: ‘What has the country I love come to when someone asks about the “rape apologist” candidate and you have to ask “Which one?”’ It describes much of what I feel like about the party I love and the issue of antisemitism. There is now a suite of people who have been suspended from the party, and at least one expelled, for antisemitism. We have a senior member of the House of Lords investigating the behaviour of Oxford University Labour club. Watching a particularly vile Gerry Downing talk about ‘the Jewish problem’ on the Daily Politics with a byline saying he was a member of my party was shameful. (more…)

Modernising modernisers

PROJXXXX_Mag_October_22.09.15_FrontCover_RGB_SFirst published in Progress magazine and on the Huffington Post

The result of the Labour leadership election was hurtful – to pretend otherwise would be untrue. I think the candidate that I supported did a brilliant job – tough though her task was. As Jeremy Corbyn said, Liz Kendall ‘absolutely stands up for what she believes in’. Yvette Cooper came out and changed government policy on refugees. Andy Burnham showed he was one of the nicest guys in politics. Congratulations are due to Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

It is horrid losing elections. Internal ones are often more painful. While May’s general election result was hard to take, losing within the party for which you have worked your whole adult life is more personal, especially when your very motive for doing so has been brought so firmly into question. (more…)

LBC Book Club – Richard Angell, Rowenna Davis & Owen Jones

Iain Dale hosts the LBC Book Club at Labour party conference 2011 with Richard Angell, Rowenna Davis and Owen Jones. The book club explores The Purple Book, Tangled up in Blue and Chavs, that each explore ideas for Labour to regain power.