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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Political wing of the wealthy governs says UK writer Owen Jones

More than a Grain of Truth
Re-reporting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

English writer and commentator Owen Jones is author of the 2011 widely promoted and acclaimed book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Before becoming an author, Jones worked as a trade union and parliamentary researcher. He took his undergraduate and graduate credentials in history at University College, Oxford.

I heard him for the first time on BBC’s “Broadcasting House.” These are some of Jones’s recent thoughts published in the UK Independent.

Conservatives and Co.
Reflecting also U.S. barely differentiable D/R parties

Since their founding “as a modern political force in 1834, Conservatives have acted as the parliamentary wing of the wealthy elite,” Jones writes.

Jones says when he was at university, he was “at an off-the-record gathering” where he heard a very senior Tory figure say, “‘the Conservative Party … was a

[c]oalition] of privileged interests its main purpose to defend that privilege; and the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people.

“At the turn of the 20th century, many on the left thought that extending the franchise to working-class voters would inevitably lead to the victory of parliamentary socialism.” It didn't happen.

Britain’s General Union (GMB) founded in 1889 and comprised of  more than 617,000 members has revealed, Jones reports, “that almost a quarter of the top 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain have donated to the Tories” as “3.6 million children grow up in poverty” and in response the Tories “redefine child poverty.”

Party Politics Left and Right

In an earlier article “We’re now governed by the political wing of the wealthy,” Jones writes that the idea that the political wing of the wealthy governs is main-stream public opinion emblematic “of a divide between working people and rich elites.…

“The political power of the rich, often disguised and subtle,” he says, “has become more overt as the economic crisis has worn on.”

There clearly is a great difference between trade unions “bankrolling the Labour [think U.S. Democratic] Party”— millions of working people giving a small contribution from their pay packet in the hope of securing a political voice— and “multi-millionaires handing over huge donations and enjoying private dinners with the Prime Minister” [think U.S. Republican  or Democratic head of state]: “The political power of a supermarket checkout worker paying in to her trade union political fund is incomparably smaller than the influence of Michael Spencer, John Nash or Adrian Beecroft.”

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-born Michael Alan Spencer is a British businessman with an estimated fortune of £510 million, the chief executive of the world’s leading interdealer broker and owner of the spread betting firm City Index.

John Alfred Stoddard Nash is a British businessman and co-founder of private equity firm Sovereign Capital; and former chair of the British Venture Capital Association

Paul Adrian Barlow Beecroft is a British venture capitalist based in London; for many years Chief Investment Officer of the private equity group Apax; now Chairman of Dawn Capital.

However, Jones writes, “The real scandal of the link between unions and Labour [U.S. Democratic] is how little rank-and-file members have gotten in return.” [Emphasis added]
“We are governed by the political wing of the wealthy.”

As an keen observer of news and public affairs west of the North Atlantic who sees a state of affairs comparable to Owen Jones’s observations east of the North Atlantic, I’d say he’s hit on more than a grain of truth that, sadly, reflects British and U.S. politics and public affairs.

Sources and notes

“Working-class Toryism is dying and it’s taking the party with it —Thatcherism’s trashing of communities created a culture of anti-Toryism in swathes of the country” (Owen Jones), June 15, 2012, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/owen-jones-workingclass-toryism-is-dying-and-its-taking-the-party-with-it-7851880.html

“We’re now governed by the political wing of the wealthy — Cruddas’s pledge to donors gives an insight into how power works in Cameron’s Britain” (Owen Jones), March 30, 2012, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/owen-jones-were-now-governed-by-the-political-wing-of-the-wealthy-7601024.html

Dr Jonathan Cruddas (born April 7, 1962) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Cruddas

Owen Jones cont:

Born August 8, 1984, in Sheffield, England, now living in London, writer and commentator Owen Jones is categorized as being associated with the political left. His Chavs “addresses the British working class; the ‘chav’ stereotype was popular when the book was published.”
Owen Jones bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Jones_(writer)

Broadcasting House

After the segment in which Jones participated, reviewing the papers in this July 1, 2012, edition of “Broadcasting House” were: forensic scientist Sohom Das, comedian and actress Wendy Wason, and former BBC correspondent Nick Jones. BH is a Sunday morning magazine program with news and conversation about the big stories of the week, presented by Paddy O’Connell, http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01k9n7x/Broadcasting_House_01_07_2012/

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