Political commentator Owen Jones reflects on his time in Falkirk

Writer and commentator Owen Jones has happy memories of his time in Falkirk
Writer and commentator Owen Jones has happy memories of his time in Falkirk

He’s one of the UK’s most recognisable political commentators but his first media appearance came as a primary one pupil at Comely Park school.

Owen Jones is known for his articulate thoughts on the social and economic challenges facing the working population and what can be done to help, making regular appearances on ‘Question Time’ and writing a weekly column in The Guardian.

Cover of The Establishment - new book by Owen Jones

Cover of The Establishment - new book by Owen Jones

This week he has been in Manchester, where his views on the Labour Party conference have been in much demand.

But it was during his two- year stay in Falkirk that the 30-year-old first tasted fame.

“The first time I ever appeared in a newspaper was when I was five because in my primary school class I was one of four sets of twins, so a photographer came in to take our picture,” he told The Falkirk Herald.

Owen and his family moved back south to Stockport when he was six, but he has happy memories of his time in the town.

“At first I remember sticking out as the only English kids in our school, but everyone accepted us pretty quickly,” he added.

“My twin actually ended up picking up a pretty strong Falkirk accent by the time we left. My folks took us on the anti-poll tax demo in Glasgow in 1990 - I was given a leaflet to hold as a placard and started chanting the slogan on it, and people joined in (probably out of pity). So I started a chant on the march - my proudest political moment to date!”

Generations of Owen’s family have been involved in left-wing politics, with his great-grandfather taking part in the 1926 General Strike and his parents meeting as members of the Militant Tendency that was active within the Labour Party in the early 1980s.

After graduating from Oxford University, Owen published his first book - ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, in 2011. It was critically acclaimed and established him as a political commentator.

His second book, ‘The Establishment and How They Get Away With It’, was published this month.

Owen’s time in the country means he maintains a keen interest in Scottish politics. “Last week’s referendum has to mean the end of the old status quo,” he said.

“We need to build a federal country with power devolved to Scotland and Wales and also to the regions of England.”

He jokes that his views represent a “right-ward shift” compared to previous generations of his family, but credits them with sparking his interest in politics.

“My great-grandad was a railway worker who went on strike in the 1926 General Strike and had his wages docked - I still intend to get justice for that,” he said.

“My great-uncle was on the football team of the Independent Labour Party in the 1930s, my granddad joined the Communist Party as an apprentice dockworker in Portsmouth during the war, and my grandmother was a left-wing Labour councillor.

“For me, it’s all about people organising from below in the best traditions of our country - the Levellers, the Chartists, the suffragettes, trade unionists, LGBT and anti-racism campaigners, and so on - to reclaim democracy.”