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Editorial: Ken Jones stood for Jamaica

Published:Friday | July 3, 2015 | 7:00 AM

IT WOULD have required real effort and the expenditure of serious energy for someone not to respect Ken Jones. This newspaper respected and admired him, as we believe was the case with the vast number of Jamaicans who came into contact with him, or knew him through his writings.

Ken Jones died this week, aged 86 - member of a passing generation of special Jamaicans who we do not believe are sufficiently appreciated and enough made about.

To be clear, Ken Jones was not a man who necessarily wanted to be liked, and certainly did not go out of his way to encourage such sentiments. Indeed, in his public persona, he held strong views, political views and, in print, was argumentative, not a bad trait for a journalist, which, primarily, was what he was.

Mr Jones had another admirable trait. He was honest. You knew where he stood.

Politically, he generally supported the Jamaica Labour Party and was on the political Right, although in his early years he acted as editor of the now-defunct liberal/Left newspaper, Public Opinion. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wielded a scything pen, in the columns of this newspaper, against Michael Manley and the democratic socialist policies of his People's National Party. Indeed, Mr Jones authored biographies on the JLP's founder, Sir Alexander Bustamante, his wife, Lady Bustamante, and he often came to the defence of Sir Alexander's most complex and controversial of successors, Edward Seaga, with whom he worked closely and served in government. But then, he also wrote extensively and knowingly about the black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who, like Sir Alexander, is among Jamaica's national heroes.

The point is that you might disagree with Ken Jones' conclusions, but there was no doubt that his interpretations would be based on well-researched facts, delivered in crisp, fluent prose. He had a great sense of context and history and a vision of greatness for his country that was shared by that group of pre-Independence intellectuals and activists, across the ideological lines, of which he was a part.

His interest in ideas, discourse and debate remained sharp up to his death, when he was still struggling for ways to revive that old political think tank, the Farquharson Institute. Really, Ken Jones stood for Jamaica.