Appearing on BBC Question Time last night, Owen Jones attacked the government's Health Reform Bill, stating that the "Tories have absolutely no mandate for what they're doing to our NHS", as well as slamming New Labour for "laying the foundations" for the privatisation of the health service.
Who would be able to outshine Ed Miliband, Ken Livingstone and Paul Krugman as "the most influential left-wing thinker of the year?" According to a survey carried out by the political blog Left Foot Forward, the answer is Owen Jones, the author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Polling 42.1% of the readers' votes, Owen Jones came ahead of the leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas, the media campaigner Tom Watson and the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee.
Historian David Starkey has provoked controversy following his Friday appearance on Newsnight, in which he suggested that Britain's recent riots were in part caused by an adoption and integration of "black culture" amongst the white working class.
In a blog post for Labour List, Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, describes the riots as a catastrophe; the political consequences of which may be felt for a long time to come.
Jones fears that the growing backlash against rioters may be indicative of an impending swing to the right. With public mood supportive of an authoritarian response to those involved, and discourse surrounding the debate one of prejudicial and divisive generalisation, it seems that right-wing attitudes are primed to take hold across Britain. As Jones writes:
My real fear is that we have just witnessed another crucial stage in the political ascendancy of the right. When asked how he would cure what he described as a "sickness", one of David Cameron's key suggestions was "a welfare state that doesn't reward idleness". And so begins an attempt to link the actions of a few with benefit claimants as a whole.
Owen Jones, author of Chavs: Demonization of the Working Class, has been nominated for Left Foot Forward's Most Influential Left-Wing Thinker of 2010/2011, acknowledging his impressive contribution in bringing issues of inequality back into the debate surrounding the future of the Left.
Owen has intelligently and articulately argued the case that New Labour failed to address the politics of inequality, using the debate around the word ‘chav' to illustrate how modern Britain continues to be led by its attitudes and responses to class.
Further praising Jones' impact on the political discourse in the last year, Olly Parker and Natan Doron of the Fabian Society noted his ability to present progressive and honest viewpoints without alienating the more moderate audiences he often speaks to in his TV and media work.
[...] Owen has often managed to argue a traditional hard-left point of view without coming across as completely mad. The media love to drop your archetypal "mad lefty" - or indeed "mad right-winger" - into TV debates for the sake of entertainment. Owen has not played up to this but has instead sensibly made arguments that the public can understand and relate to.
Visit Left Foot Forward to read the full article. The shortlist for nominations is announced on Monday 12th September, and the poll closes on Friday 7th October, so don't forget to vote!