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Thursday 19 December 2019

In Defence Of Jess Phillips

Husband’s work boots” warned Jess Phillips, even before I had opened the front passenger door. She had come to Crewe to lend her support to Laura Smith’s campaign, and was giving me a lift to the outlying village of Haslington, where a team of volunteers was canvassing voters. There was plenty of room in the footwell anyhow. There was also a lot of clutter. Her car is for work, not for show.
And another thing

There had earlier been a snippet of conversation that others involved in the Labour leadership and deputy leadership elections might well heed: “I like a fight”. That was apropos her not really getting one in her own seat of Birmingham Yardley: hence her willingness to come and canvas for several of her colleagues.

I won’t get clamped, will I?” she asked as a delegation from Ms Smith’s campaign office escorted her up the street to the Albert’s Corner pub, where the morning’s canvassers, many of whom had come in from Liverpool, were having lunch. No, she didn’t get clamped. And she managed to find Haslington with a combination of my directions and her SatNav. She depends on the SatNav when away from her home turf.

You get on easily with Jess: she’s agreeable, even if she isn’t the biggest fan of the current Labour leadership. For those harbouring negative thoughts about her, no, she didn’t come any doom and gloom about the result, but suggested that Labour would be fortunate to do better than they had 2017.  Not really premature defeatism.

Once on the canvass, she did just as the rest of the team - the organiser running the board told her which houses to go to, and go to them she did, whether they were marked solid Labour, Don’t Know, or the dreaded long straw, Against. Against often meant unwavering Brexiteers, Tories, or just voters wanting to rant at someone.
Or those who responded as one did: I was knocking at one door, while Ms Phillips was doing the adjacent house. As I waited to see if anyone was in, I heard the adjacent front door open. “Oh hello, I’m Jess Phillips from the Labour Party” … SLAM! It brought me up sharp; it did not faze Jess one iota. I was almost relieved to register a “no response”.

She just carried on to the next house on the register. And after finishing the canvassing round in Haslington, while the rest of us headed back to the campaign office, she set off for Stoke-on-Trent North, where she was supporting Ruth Smeeth. There is a lesson here, in case anyone missed it: Jess Phillips did not support her colleagues because they were from any faction within the party; there was no discrimination for or against left or right; she supported them because they were Labour. That was all that mattered.

Am I saying all of this prior to backing her for a leadership role? No I’m not, and haven’t so much as considered all the candidates yet. I’m saying it because, despite some on the left being unhappy at her occasional excess of candour, Jess Phillips is a Labour person through and through. And going out on the canvass was fine by her.

Most importantly, she wants Labour to succeed. And that can’t be a bad thing.
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the grahaemoth said...

I am surprised that you could offer any kind of support without criticism of such an appalling snollygoster.
Your boast of "This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind" should read neoliberal mind.

Anonymous said...

No, Tim. Just no.

She's a good constituency MP. Nothing more.

Dan said...

You met her and you found her to be charming. That doesn't change the fact that she's a hypocrite who's constantly undermined the leadership and damaged Labour's electoral chances


Jonathan said...

Please no Jess Phillips is a nasty piece of work, yes I haven't met her but threatening to stab ur party leader in the front and telling Diane Abbott to Foxtrot Oscar is neither appropriate for an ordinary member l, but as a Labour MP it's appalling and she is lucky she avoided police and party disciplinary action.

Anonymous said...

I like her. It's hard to argue that she has an excess of candour, when there's so little on the government benches.

Jonathan said...

I would leave the party if Jess Phillips gets anywhere near leadership, a toxic Blairite, who has no place in a Democratic Socialist Party dedicated to tackling inequality in our communities.

Anonymous said...

Bye bye Labour. Good luck Zelo.

James said...

You had one experience and whilst I have never met the lady what do I see?

The MP who is overly keen to undermine other labour MPs, including smearing them as anti-Semites and then goes onto attend parties hosted by Murdoch and also The Spectator Magazine both of whom known to be racist, xenophobic and misogynist.

The MP who constantly features in the Times, featuring this year in the Magazine, on the sunday before Labour's conference is due to start, stating that the party's chances are slim...

I do not trust Jess Phillips. I think that she is overly keen to present herself as a victim, talk about working class credentials and also dismiss others including BAME colleagues when it suits her... I am a member of labour and she is going to have to work hard to overcome not only my misgivings but also others who are members.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Tim......Anybody who votes - as she did - in favour of nuclear weapons and No to investigating Britain's involvement in the illegal mass-murdering Iraq invasion will never be trusted by me.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

A decent, sincere piece.

The joy of Jess Phillips is her innate decency. The good news is there are many other Labour women (and this General Election has proved the power of our Labour women) who are as down-to-earth, bright, human and motivated as she.

The future's bright. The future's ...

Anonymous said...

@ 20:13.

Whatever it may be, the future's NOT Phillips.

Labour's expanded membership will see to that.

The times are vastly different from Windbag Kinnock and War Criminals Blair-Brown. Very different.

Anonymous said...

Her leadership ambition might have been a factor here.

Of course, any action can have more than one motive.

Anonymous said...

'going out on the canvass was fine by her', as it was for many of Phillips' left-wing colleagues and members whom she has spent years abusing and undermining. It is not the Momentumite left, who went out in their droves to support candidates from all wings of the party, which stokes factionalism in Labour, but ambitious and narcissistic individuals like Phillips, who turn nasty when their ambitions are thwarted. It's also worth remembering that, although she never seems to off the TV, she has no track record of commanding a brief in the shadow cabinet. She would be a disaster as leader.

Not Winegums said...

I quite like her, up to a point.

That point is a long way removed from leader though. Much like M from MW

Jonathan said...

Jess Phillips is in the wrong party, a woman who is closer ideologically to JRM and Bozza than the rest of the Labour Party, needs to examine if it's not more appropriate for her to cross the floor to join the Nasty Party rather than pretending to be a Labour MP.

Mark said...

If Phillips becomes the next leader I will most likely resign my membership. I am not for one moment being taken in by her 'I'm just a working class woman getting things done bab' act. This piece explains why Phillips is bad news


grim northerner said...

She's no Angela rayner!

Jonathan said...

She can go and Foxtrot Oscar, I will resign and join the Greens, I won't tolerate Labour becoming Tory lite once more.
If she doesn throw her gob in the ring and starts canvassing, she will get told to join the Tories where she and Stella Creasy really belong.

Jonathan said...

Dumping your 12 year old son on the steps of No10, on protest of early Friday school closures, is hardly great politics but plays into Jess' ego and publicity hungry narcissim.

Anonymous said...

Tim, remember Shakespeare: One may smile and smile and be a villain.

grim northerner said...

Has priti Patel entered the race?

LiamKav said...

According to TheyWorkForYou.com, Jess Phillips has:

Consistently voted for laws to promote equality and human rights.
Almost always voted against a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
Almost always voted for higher taxes on banks
Generally voted against reducing the rate of corporation tax
Generally voted for measures to prevent climate change
Consistently voted for a publicly owned railway system
Generally voted against a stricter asylum system

Full blown Tory there, clearly. *eye roll*

Yeah, she's got a couple of things in her record that I don't like (her single vote against Iraq War investigations, and she voted against greater franking regulations) but to say that she's closer ideologically to Actual Dickens Villain JRM is just ridiculous.

And criticising her for appearing in the Times and other right-wing papers... Maybe she realises that to win you have to actually convince your enemies of your viewpoint, not just those who already agree with you.

Purity politics is going to tear Labour apart. If they don't accept pragmatism, then we're getting another ten years of Tory rule.