I’ve always liked Owen Jones but the more I see of him the more I like him, especially now he’s got his own show. On the mainstream media he tends to get put on combative political shows such as Question Time as the token socialist (‘in the red corner…’) and left to slug it out with the likes of Piers Morgan or Julia Hartley-Brewer (‘and in the blue corner…) I had a sudden flashback just then to the Yellow Pages ads of the 80’s featuring J R Hartley; would that the eponymous Julia were so warm and cuddly. But Owen Jones as an interviewer is an entirely different kettle of fish from Owen Jones on the Piers Morgan show, and now that he’s started his own channel – of which I am a patron – I’m glued to his videos.
I like him not because I agree with his views (though that is a plus) but because he is always willing to interview those he disagrees with in order to avoid the ‘echo chamber’ effect. So on his youtube channel he plans to have people like Piers Morgan as well as left-wing commentators and a range of people in between.
Owen is always respectful. He doesn’t insult people though he does challenge their views, and is clearly fascinated by all aspects of political debate. In his latest video where he attends an anti-lockdown demo consisting of two people and a dog, he reminds me of Louis Theroux in the way he manages to get inside people’s skins and get them to reveal themselves.
In spite of my good intentions I’ve become something of a politics junkie lately, obsessively checking the headlines and catching up on debates. What interests me is not so much the Westminster bubble – though we should all take note of the departure of Dominic Cummings – as the wider trends, the tides of politics. What are people thinking? Why? Why are people on the Left against lockdown as well as right-wing libertarians? Why do so many people in America believe Trump was cheated of a second term in spite of having no evidence? It is only too easy to dismiss our political opponents as idiots – and judging by this video some of them are not terribly clever, though the Brexit guy is quite personable – and to forget to debate the issues. It’s easy to point the finger but while we must always hold politicians to account it is not helpful to slag them off. Well, not publicly at least…
Last night’s video featured Peter Oborne, an ex-Daily Telegraph journalist who left the paper over their toadying to government and spends much of his time railing against the ‘revolving door’ in the media and politics; a situation which leads to journalists failing to hold the government to account because they hope one day to be in it. Though he is definitely on the right, I found I agreed with almost all of what he said, in particular about our need for national leaders who put duty and public service before populist politics and ego. The other guest Ash Sarkar is a left-wing political commentator and it was interesting to see how much they agreed on, in particular that Boris Johnson is doomed. Between them they had some fascinating insights to offer on the state we’re in and why we’re in it. It’s gratifying to see Dominic Cummings go – I always said Barnard Castle would come back to bite him and so it has.
Along with both last night’s guests – and I agree – Jones believes we are poorly served by a largely supine media. He has created this youtube channel in order not only to give a space to left-wing views but also to promote respectful debate on issues the MSM don’t generally cover. So take a look, subscribe – and if you can, donate. The channel is here: