John Joseph Jones

John Joseph Jones (1873 – 1941) – was a trade union organiser, councillor and the Labour Member of Parliament for Silvertown from 1918 until 1940. Known for his quick wit and promotion of socialist values, Jones fought throughout his career to defend the rights of the working class in West Ham and Silvertown and regularly gave speeches in the House of Commons supporting legislation to help the poorer sections of society.

Jones was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary and moved to London where he became a builder’s labourer. While working on the building sites he joined the Social Democratic Federation, becoming elected to West Ham Council in 1904. After standing unsuccessfully for the Camborne constituency in 1911, Jones became involved in the National Union of General Workers as a trade union organiser, striving to improve member’s working conditions and bargaining power.

In 1914 Jones unsuccessfully stood for the Poplar constituency representing the British Socialist Party. Subsequently this party split to form the National Socialist Party (in no way affiliated with the Nazis – formed in 1918), with Jones as one of its members, which in turn was absorbed by the Labour Party. Jones stood in the general election of 1918 for Silvertown under the National Socialist banner, actually standing against the official Labour candidate. However, he would eventually take the Labour whip in 1919. Jones held the Silvertown constituency until his death in 1940, and gave many speeches in the house vociferously defending the working men and women of the area. In October 1919 he fought the proposed Employment of Aliens Act which sought to place restrictions on foreign nationals and curb their civil and employment rights, and gave a speech defending the rights of immigrant workers accusing the government of playing to the gallery politically and using animosity against foreign nationals to exploit the rights of workers.

In December 1922 he campaigned in parliament for government subsidies for work schemes in East Ham to provide employment and three years later he spoke out against mortgage and rent rises and the poor state of housing that many East Londoners had to endure. Jones remained an assiduous defender of the interest of his constituents and regularly spoke out against perceived inequalities such as the burden of unemployment relief placed on West Ham when compared to comparatively richer boroughs.

He also campaigned for the reform of the existing poor laws, calling on the exchequer to provide more assistance, easing the burden on local government and organisations which predated the welfare state reforms of 1948. In 1937, in one of his last speeches in Parliament Jones spoke out for the reform of the workers compensation bill in attempt to increase the amount of money provided to people unfortunate enough to suffer an industrial accident or injury preventing them from working, and to increase the amount paid to dependants in the event of a worker losing his life on duty.

Jones passed away in 1941, aged 68.

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