Venue: Assembly Rooms Ballroom
It’s telling that Northerner and London-based Owen Jones, the Guardian’s golden child columnist and fount of wisdom for the left leaning, can slip into the discourse of a politically energised Scotland without being met with indifference. His fresh faced, firebrand liberal leftism secures him almost weekly spots on various UK news desks in a vein of London-centrism that would be enough for any other commentator to be met with some complacency in Edinburgh, but his conviction and transparency in his principles are emblematic of the revolution of political consciousness in Scotland.
So it is that Owen, Corbynite and republican, sells out Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms Ballroom, one of the Fringe’s biggest venues, and delivers an energetic, funny and thoughtful talk on his own area of speciality, The Politics of Hope, to an effervescent crowd. He opens by quoting a description of himself published that day in The Sunday Mail in a piece forecasting the first hundred days of a Corbyn prime-ministry; in this distopia Jones is Corbyn’s chief of staff, a ‘a princeling of the Far Left elite as the son of two members of Militant Tendency and the grandson of a Communist’. Needless to say, he makes the most of the jibe and segues into discussion of how right wing press have generated a culture of fear, before outlining his vision for a hopeful future.
It’s a fascinating hour of insight and discussion, with Jones both rhapsodizing and engaging with the audience, offering intelligent and nuanced tidbits on rectifying inequality and the vital need to broaden the parameters of political discourse. He’s preaching to the choir of course, but he’s so mild mannered and without combat in the delivery of his views that it hardly seems important to see his convictions pushed – he is, after all, offering, not foisting, his own world view, and to hear him lay it out in all his emphatic power is an entire privilege. Owen is a vital name in our times when voices in the media so often stifle their views and politics.