Why apathy to Owen Jones isn’t the right answer

Fiona Woolston 7 November 2013

Last week’s TCS published an article entitled: ‘Predictable and cliquey: Owen Jones comes to Cambridge’. My response is not an affirmation or rejection of any one political belief, but a comment on apathy in general.

According to the article, Jones was “predictable” in his “twenty minutes of banker-bashing”. Such a description suggests that Jones was attacking the banking industry as a whole. However, his criticism was aimed at those ‘top’ bankers who award themselves bonuses, while others, including your average bank clerk, struggle with the realities of British life. It is a sad fact that in Britain half a million people use food banks, the average person has lost £1,500 from their wage and 2.5 million are unemployed. The writer is wholly entitled to deem his solution of ‘bread and butter socialism’ as ‘cliquey’ but I found it disconcerting that such statsistics are judged ‘predictable’. Have we become accustomed to such cases that we have developed a ‘we’ve heard it all before’ attitude? Do such realities inspire only a shrug?

The writer also asserted that Jones secluded those not from the ‘working class’. Yet the economic strata (call it class) in which we are born is not of our choosing. Despite this, the article asserted that because Cambridge students will “typically” go to the top, Jones’ speech isolated them. But priviledge does not imply an exemption from social responsibility.

Indeed, Jones wants to reclaim power from those ‘at the top’, but his dismissiveness of background suggests that being in a position of power should not detach you from the realities of life; power should inspire you to change things. By being a socialist, Jones accepts this; many early socialists were of the elite who sought fairness for the disadvantaged. But perhaps I too have written cliquish spiel in asking whether we care enough and whether we should all care in the first place. We should get angry about it.