Labour MP Jess Phillips has, by her own choice and personal demeanour, a higher than average profile among those in the Commons. She is not backwards in coming forwards on any number of issues, some of which she is eminently well qualified to talk about. But she is not universally liked across the entire political spectrum of her own party, and her recent behaviour has not helped her cause in the slightest.
Jess Phillips MP
Her latest problem has come not from anything that has happened in Parliament, but from the kind of association that she should have known would cause her trouble. Think back to the leadership of Mil The Younger: the amount of stick he got from his own party when he decided to go along with the Murdoch Sun and endorse one of their “campaigns”, otherwise known as campaigns to sell more papers, was legion.
The Guardian recorded his buyers’ remorse: “Ed Miliband has apologised for agreeing to be pictured holding a special World Cup issue of the Sun … The picture angered people in Liverpool, where the paper has been subject to a boycott ever since its controversial coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 … Liverpool’s Labour mayor, Joe Anderson, issued a statement highly critical of Miliband”. It’s a live rail kind of issue.
Not for Tories, you understand: The Blue Team can be as close as it likes to the Murdoch mafiosi, and in Michael “Oiky” Gove they have one of Murdoch’s hired hands in the cabinet. But since the election to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, association with the Murdoch mafiosi has been Streng Verboten. Except not for Ms Phillips.
As the Evening Standard told earlier this week, “Media mogul Rupert Murdoch invited MPs and editors out to play at his pad. Combative Labour MP Jess Phillips was there too”. No other Labour MP attended. The Skwawkbox was unimpressed, noting that she “missed last night’s weekly PLP meeting”, but “later attended … a private event thrown by Rupert Murdoch at his penthouse apartment”. Along with other less than distinguished guests.
These included the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre, along with the Sun’s deeply unpleasant editor Tony Gallagher. I expect that the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks would have been in attendance, taking notes.
Ooh, look who's here. Again
Steve Topple at The Canary went suitably OTT with “Jess Phillips has shamed Labour and Birmingham with her latest stunt”, but made the very valid point that the Sun has been in the vanguard of demonising minorities - along with disabled people. It was, as the baddies told one of their own in Charade, a Dumb Move.
And now has come the suggestion from the well-informed Natalie Rowe - who blew the whistle on former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale - that Ms Phillips had been getting a little too close to old Whitto. The Labour MP has claimed this to be “libellous”, but has failed to issue a straight denial. Also, she is on record as saying “People having affairs is their own business”. Well, she does have a point in this instance.
After all, having some kind of Close Encounter with a notorious Tory MP is probably less bad for a Labour MP than breaking bread with Rupert Murdoch and his pals.