The Baroness Jones
|Member of the House of Lords |
5 November 2013
|Deputy Mayor of London|
16 May 2003 - 14 June 2004
|Member of the London Assembly|
as the 11th Additional Member
4 May 2000 - 6 May 2016
|Councillor for Southwark London Borough Council|
4 May 2006 - 6 May 2010
|Born||23 December 1949|
Brighton, Sussex, England
|Residence||Southwark, London, UK|
|Alma mater||University College London|
Jennifer Helen Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, FSA (born 23 December 1949) is a British politician and member of the Green Party of England and Wales. She was until September 2019 the sole Green Party member in the House of Lords.
Jones represented the Green Party in the London Assembly from its creation in 2000 until standing down in 2016. She was the Green candidate for Mayor of London in the 2012 election, coming third with 4.48% of first preferences. She served as Deputy Mayor of London from May 2003 to June 2004. She was also the sole Green councillor on Southwark Council from 2006 to 2010.
On the London Assembly, Jones's prime areas of interest were transport, housing and planning, and policing, "with a strong emphasis on sustainability and localism". In addition to her period as deputy mayor, Jones served as Chair of London Food, Green Transport Advisor, and Road Safety Ambassador It was announced at the beginning of August 2013 that she was to become the first Green life peer in the House of Lords since Tim Beaumont  She was introduced to the House of Lords on 5 November 2013.
Jones mainly grew up on the Moulsecoomb estate in Brighton, with brief periods of time abroad in Lesotho and The Seychelles. She attended the co-educational Westlain Grammar School (now Falmer High School). Before entering politics, Jones worked as financial controller in London. She attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College London as a mature student, studying for an MA in archaeology. She spent approximately ten years as an archaeologist in the Middle East, studying carbonised plant remains, before embarking on a career in politics.
In the 2000 election, Jones won a place in the inaugural London Assembly as part of a three-strong Green Group, including Councillor Darren Johnson AM and Victor Anderson, who resigned in March 2003 and was replaced by Noel Lynch for the remainder of the term. The 2004 GLA elections saw the Greens lose the seat held by Lynch, leaving Jones and Johnson as the two remaining members of the Green Group.
In May 2003, the Green Party, after some internal dissent, accepted an offer from the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to nominate a deputy mayor; they chose Jones, who held the post until June 2004. The offer was part of Livingstone's pledge to rotate the position of deputy mayor, although he later declined to offer the post to the Conservatives and had an offer to the Liberal Democrats turned down.
She was a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, and has issued a report on traffic policing. She sat on both the MPA's Strategic and Operational Policing Committee and Civil Liberties Panel. Elsewhere she put forward a motion and has put questions to the Mayor calling for progress on women's issues, specifically in relation to violence against women and support provision.
Jones chaired the Planning and Housing Committee, which issued a report on food growing and planning in London, Cultivating the Capital. It concluded that "London has only three or four days stocks of food should there be any disruption to supply". Jones issued an individual report in January 2010 on affordable housing in London, which determined that "the cost of buying a home [in London] has risen twice as fast as incomes".
She was also a member of the Confirmation Hearings and Transport Committees.
She previously held roles as the Mayor's Road Safety Ambassador and Green Transport advisor, focusing on road safety and cycling in London respectively, as well as being the former Chair of London Food, a mayoral commission which "aims to give Londoners fresher, healthier and more affordable food while reducing the environmental impact of our current food supply". As Chair, Jones was responsible for drawing up the Sustainable Food Strategy for London and chaired the Food Implementation Group overseeing the strategy More recently she also issued a report on the subject of food security in the capital.
In the 2006 local elections, Jones was elected as a councillor for the South Camberwell ward in the London Borough of Southwark, the Greens' first councillor in Southwark. She came third in the ward, polling 1014 votes. In the 2010 elections she lost her seat, coming fifth with 1282 votes.
In March 2011, Jones was selected as the Green Party's candidate for the 2012 London Mayoral election winning 67% of the votes against prominent Green Party members Dr Shahrar Ali and Farid Bakht, stating "At this time of savage cuts to essential services, London needs a Mayor who will create a fairer city and reduce the gap between rich and poor. These are hard times for people who care about quality services, local businesses, and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities. I promise to make fighting cuts to housing benefit, the NHS and youth services a key part of my campaign to be Mayor."
At the election, she came third with 98,913 first preference votes, the highest position of a Green candidate to date, but lost her deposit, scoring less than 5% of the vote.
On 20 September 2013, she was created a Life Peer taking the title Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, of Moulsecoomb in the County of East Sussex. She was nominated for this appointment by her party after a ballot of members. She was introduced to the House of Lords on 5 November 2013. She became the first Green Party peer since the death of Tim Beaumont, in 2008. The only other Green parliamentarian is Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion.
Jones was a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority from its creation in 2000 "and has worked on a wide range of policing issues, with a particular focus on road safety, violence against women, civil liberties and neighbourhood policing" until it was disbanded in 2012. She was outspoken about numerous issues including what she called mayor Boris Johnson's demonisation of youth through the use of "baseless" rhetoric on "soaring gang-membership and rising knife-crime", suggesting the mayor created an unhelpful climate of fear. Jones then served as a member of the MPA's replacement body, the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee.
In response to the riots in August 2011, Jones and Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas MP co-authored an article in The Guardian, arguing that all cuts to policing should be postponed until December 2012 when a sufficient review of the events has occurred and the lessons from the London Olympics are learned, "In the meantime, the police should focus on spending money wisely, and ensuring that police officers are not burdened with administrative tasks which take them away from frontline policing."
After herself being kettled at a students demonstration, Jones was vociferously critical of this police tactic, telling the BBC the police used kettling to "imprison peaceful campaigners and have shown they can't be trusted with such a powerful tactic", suggesting "The Met's reputation sinks even further every time they abuse their powers and it's time to stop this particular mistreatment".
In June 2014, Jones penned an editorial in The Guardian wherein she criticised the surveillance tactics of police on activists. After going through the process now available through the Data Protection Act to get the police report on herself, she found that she was labelled a potential "domestic extremist". She found that the report contained only publicly available information, such as tweets, and that nothing in it would suggest potentially dangerous activity. Jones has been under surveillance by the police's "domestic extremism" unit from 2001 until 2012, including the time during her attempt to become London's mayor. She viewed the revelation as both a violation of her privacy and a waste of police resources. She is now calling for a re-evaluation of police policies, especially in regards to political activists.
In January 2016, whistleblower Sgt David Williams claimed that the police's "domestic extremism" unit shredded records "related to" Jones in June 2014, the month Jones met with the unit pressing for answers.
Jones has argued for big changes to London's current food culture as Chair of London Food during Ken Livingstone's second Mayoral term. During her time as chair, London Food released its 'Food Strategy' aiming to "help improve food in London's schools, hospitals and other public institutions" and "offer people on low income better access to healthy and affordable food". Some of the reports key points were:
In 2008, Jones released a report 'Why London Needs to Grow More Food' stressing "The Mayor of London has planning and development powers, which could be used to support widespread urban agriculture in London through the commercial and voluntary sectors, community-led social enterprises, and by engaging the unemployed, elderly, and lower skilled groups".
Jones commissioned the initial TFL report into promoting cycling that paved the way for the London Cycle-hire scheme. Ashok Sinha, Chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign, said of Jones "In 2008 the London Cycling Campaign gave Jenny Jones a Special Award for her Lifetime Services to cycling. This was in recognition of her success in helping to push cycling into mainstream politics, her efforts to deliver many cycling projects on the ground, and her energies as cycling champion in general.". In a confrontation with the Mayor over cycle safety, Johnson said:
(it is) your duty as an honest politician to tell people the truth that cycling is actually getting safer, when you consider the number of people on the roads.
Johnson's advisor wrote to Jones claiming there had been:
... a reduced number of cycling collisions in the last ten years
Which turned out not to be true. In a written statement Jones said, "we know that cycle safety is the big problem which puts Londoners off jumping on their bikes. There are a growing number of deaths and injuries of cyclists and trying to cover that up by issuing factually inaccurate statements won't change the reality," continuing, "We urgently need to fix the most dangerous junctions and reverse the Mayor's policy of giving priority to motorised traffic. The Mayor needs to stand his policy on its head and give legal priority on many local roads to pedestrians and cyclists." Jones has also been critical of Johnson's neglect of cycling in outer London, stating "given that 70% of the potential new cyclists identified by TfL are outside of inner and central London, it is shocking that the Transport Strategy has no clear plan for cycling in the suburbs and outer London."
Jones has spoken against Boris Johnson's transport policy of "making motoring cheaper in London, whilst public transport fares are raised above inflation". At Mayor's question time, Jones highlighted a "promise" Johnson had made in 2008 to make all new buses hybrid by 2012 when in reality less than 10% had met this criterion. Jones wishes for a reduction in the burden for Londoners felt by Johnson's price increases and proposes a reduction in fares of about 4%. Jones supported the congestion charge as a way to lower pollution and road casualties and spoke against the mayor's cancellation of the Western extension, arguing that it made London dirtier, more crowded and less safe. Jones favours replacing the congestion charge with a "smart, pay-as-you drive scheme".
In her statement of policy for the 2012 election, Jones proposes several ideas to bring "a renaissance of micro, small and medium businesses" in order to spread "wealth to all Londoners", seeking "a financial services sector that works for them". She argues for a system that rewards good long term investment "instead of trying to make a fast buck" and proposes a good financial example to be Sweden's Handelsbanken which gives "good basic pay and no bonuses." One of her candidacy's most distinct positions is with respect to The City with ambitions to "Abolish the City of London Corporation and replace it with a democratic London borough", "support new institutions like local community banks focused on lending to small businesses and social enterprises" and "Promote building societies and credit unions and lobby the Government to put its remaining nationalised banking assets into one of these models rather than a bank". Elsewhere Jones has been critical of excessive top-level remuneration, stating, "It's difficult not to feel enraged" by statistics showing the average FTSE CEO earns 565 times the national average.
Jones and the Green Party, alongside others, are deeply critical of the inequalities in pay between rich and poor. Jones supports calls by the New Economics Foundation to introduce a 10:1 pay ratio, whereby the highest earner in a company or institution should earn no more than 10 times the lowest paid employee. Jones's policy indicates that, if elected, this would be instigated in "City Hall, Transport for London, the fire brigade and the police", and she claims "more equal societies tend to be happier and healthier as well as experiencing lower levels of violent crime." This is a high priority for her candidacy and she states that "this would mean that no City Hall cleaner could earn less than a tenth the Mayor's salary, and the Commissioner of the Met Police couldn't earn more than ten times a young recruit."
Jones sees tackling homelessness as a key and achievable target and criticised Johnson's poor record: "This rise in homelessness is unsurprising and depressing, but completely avoidable. One fifth of people became homeless just because their insecure tenancy ended, another fifth because they have had to move out of their parents' home into the incredibly expensive rental market. With housing benefit cuts now biting deep into people's incomes, this is only going to get worse." Jones proposes to "bring all grants for pan-London homelessness services into the GLA to protect frontline services, and work closely with homelessness organisations to ensure nobody needs to spend a second night out sleeping rough on the street."
In her campaign for mayor, Jones has spoken against the inflationary effects of certain businesses, stating, "we want to change the housing market from a playground for speculative investment to a source of secure, affordable homes". Jones has spoken in favour of community engagement in planning, specifically with regards to housing co-operatives. To help co-operatives develop, she proposes to "establish the London Mutual Housing Company to help communities set-up Community Land Trusts, which will give them control over the design, development and management of permanently affordable homes." In addition to this, she proposes a scheme to build affordable homes and to give communities the means to bring unused buildings back into use. For the Greens fuel poverty is a big issue and "Green London Assembly Members worked to secure the city's largest home insulation programme and demonstrated how it could be funded to reach over a million homes."
Jones is a Eurosceptic and advocates the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Jones cites lack of democracy, waste and cost as her reasons for supporting Brexit. In October 2015 Jones gave her support to Vote Leave, an organisation campaigning to leave the European Union in the referendum in the UK. Jones cited the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and EU policies of austerity as part of a measure to deal with Greece's national debt imposed by the European troika as reasons to support Brexit. She has also argued that 'the EU exists on too large a scale for genuine democratic oversight and accountability. The Green party believes that small is beautiful - and the EU is gigantist in its very nature.'
On 17 November 2018, she joined the demonstration organised in London by Extinction Rebellion. She told The Guardian that "We are at the point where if we don't start acting and acting fast we are just going to wipe out our life support system" and that "Basically, conventional politics has failed us - it's even failed me and I'm part of the system - so people have no other choice".