It is with the deepest sadness that I advise readers of The Spectator Australia of the tragic passing of David Martin Jones. David was intellectually brilliant – a good and kind man with a lovely sense of humour, who had so much more to give the world and who will be sorely missed by so many, not least the readers of his insightful columns.

In typically self-deprecating style, David described himself as ‘a relic of that best of educational equalisers, the British post-war grammar school system’. On his website, he wrote that he was the first child on either side of his family to go to university.

His brilliant career began at Reading University where he graduated with honours in History and attained a scholarship to study for an MA in History at McMaster University in Canada, returning to London to write his doctoral thesis on 17th Century political thought at the London School of Economics, under the supervision of the late, great, conservative philosopher, Kenneth Minogue. It was through Minogue that David met Jo Cohen, Minogue’s stepdaughter, who was to become his wife.

In 1989, he joined the Politics Department of the National University of Singapore, an appointment which he said terminated abruptly in 1995 when he ‘discovered that the ruling People’s Action Party did not take kindly to publishing on Singapore and Asian democratisation in a spirit of scholarly scepticism’. He then taught at the School of Government at the University of Tasmania and in 2004 joined the University of Queensland, writing on transnational violence and ideology, and the need to view international relations through the lens of realism, rather than idealism. As well as his appointment at the University of Queensland, he was a Visiting Professor in the War Studies Department at King’s College, and the Director of Research at the Danube Institute, in Budapest.

He wrote or co-wrote 11 books with major academic publishers most recently History’s Fools, the Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics (2020), and The Strategy of Maoism in the West (2022). As well as writing for QuadrantThe Spectator Australia, and The Australian, his essays appeared in International Affairs, Comparative Politics, Orbis, International Security, The National Interest, and The Critic.

Click here to read some of his wonderful articles for The Spectator Australia.

During his study of South East Asian terrorist groups, he wrote that he identified the emergence of South East Asian terrorist groups including Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. He also continued to publish on 17th Century political thought and investigated the history of Welsh radicals exiled to Van Dieman’s land in the 1830s and 1840s which Huw Edwards featured in his documentary on Wales in Australia. He was also interviewed for a 2015 documentary on British rebels sent to Van Dieman’s land as political prisoners which screened in Australia, Ireland, and Wales.

At the time of his passing, David was grappling with the most pressing geostrategic challenges facing the West particularly relations with China.

David passed away this morning (Australian time) in a hospital in London surrounded by his closest family and friends shortly after returning from his visit to Australia

We have lost a great man and a great friend far too soon and we are all the poorer for his untimely passing. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Jo, and his stepdaughters. Vale David and may you rest in peace.

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