Guardian columnist Owen Jones had one simple message to young people ahead of May’s General Election: have hope.
The political commentator spoke to JMU Journalism ahead of an event in Liverpool hosted by Waterstones where he discussed his new book, ‘The Establishment; And how they get away with it’ in front of a packed audience at West Africa House.
The 30-year-old said: “Exercise your right to vote and use it on the basis of hope. Think about the sort of society you want to live in.
“There are lot of battles to be fought over the next few years for young people. It’s about having an affordable home, as young people are being punished by a housing crisis; about having jobs that actually pay a decent wage that people can live on; education, where people aren’t being punished for aspiring to a better education. So these battles, whoever is in charge, will have to be fought.”
Jones describes himself as a socialist who believes in a society run in the interests of working people, rather than a society run as a racket for a tiny elite at the top.
The author, who has also published ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, told JMU Journalism he believes that aspiring journalists are being priced out of a career in the profession, though he sees online platforms as an increasingly useful tool for people.
“What social media does is democratise the media,” he said. “It’s very hard to get your foot in the door in journalism because often people are asked to do unpaid internships or expensive post-graduate courses and that excludes people from non-privilege backgrounds.
“So, social media offers a challenge to that because it gives a platform to people who are otherwise ignored and who can’t afford to live for free, and if they can get a bit of a following they can bypass that.”
Described as a ‘braying jackal’ by Fox News, the writer’s family has a history in left-wing politics in Britain which he feels has helped shape his views.
He is not short of family ties to Liverpool either, as he told JMU Journalism: “Most of my family were from North Wales, who grew up in Merseyside. The politics of Liverpool is something that runs throughout my family and I owe everything to this city and its politics in terms of where I am now.
“There’s a tradition in this city of people organising from below, of having power and strength, courage and determination.
“Successive governments have tried to break down people’s solidarity throughout Britain, but when you come to Liverpool there’s more of a sense of unity and defiance and if we could bottle up that spirit and spread it across the country, we’d be living in a better place.”
The writer talked about how privileged he felt to have met some of the Hillsborough families and used them as an example of a group of people who have had all sorts of obstacles thrown at them but never stopped fighting and did not give in.