Jess Phillips

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"My red line is the antisemitism"
BornJessica Rose Trainor
9 October 1981
PartyLabour
Labour leadership: "Gobby Phillips has zero chance"

Jess Phillips (born 9 October 1981) is a British Labour Party politician who became the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Birmingham Yardley in the 2015 General Election, and was re-elected in June 2017. She is chair of the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party (WPLP)[1] and a member of Labour Friends of Israel.

Overthrowing Jeremy Corbyn

Jess Phillips reported to Owen Jones in December 2015 that she had told Jeremy Corbyn and his staff "to their faces: 'The day that ... you are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won't knife you in the back, I'll knife you in the front', if it looked as though he was damaging Labour's chances of winning the next general election."[2]

Responding to criticism about her use of language, Phillips said on Twitter:

"I am no more going to actually knife Jeremy Corbyn than I am actually a breath of fresh air, or a pain in the arse".[3]

Antisemitism red line

On 21 February 2019, Jess Phillips stated that "My red line is the antisemitism. I think that there is an opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to really comment very very strongly and say things like… what happened with the Labour Party students this week when they put "Palestine Lives" at the announcement of Joan Ryan leaving, that that is antisemitic and it has to stop." Jewish Voice for Labour noted that:

"Joan Ryan is a non-Jewish MP whose activities as chair of Labour Friends of Israel have pitted her repeatedly against supporters of justice for Palestine…Yoking her resignation with the slogan “Palestine Lives” seems entirely justifiable and carries no hint of hostility towards Jews. The fact that the tweet seems to have been removed is a reflection of the gagging of pro-Palestinian voices that Ryan and her allies promote.[4]

Establishment Pick

Following an interview in The Times of 6 March 2019 titled "Jess Phillips: ‘I think I’d be a good prime minister’",[5]Kit Knightly wrote in the Off-Guardian on 10 March 2019 that Phillips was the "Establishment Pick to Replace Corbyn", citing apparently choreographed support from former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, zionist journalist Jonathan Freedland, Tory MP Nick Boles, The Guardian and The Independent with the headline:

“Only Jess Phillips can save the Labour Party – Corbyn would be mad to let her go”[6]

Commentator Linda Vaux was not impressed:

"The establishment can ‘pick’ whoever the hell they like. Fortunately they have no say whatever in the choice of Leader of the Labour Party, and the majority of those who do, ie: Labour members, will make sure gobby Phillips has zero chance of being chosen. Ever."[7]

Defeating the Lib Dems

Jess Phillips was selected to contest Birmingham Yardley in June 2013, a constituency at the time represented by John Hemming of the Liberal Democrats who at the 2010 election held the seat with a 3,002 majority.[8] For the 2015 General Election, Labour required a swing of 3.7% to take the seat,[9] and after a swing of 11.7% Phillips achieved a majority of 6,595 or 16% of votes cast.[10][11] She made her maiden speech on 28 May 2015, highlighting the issue of homelessness.[12]

In the 2015 Labour leadership election, Phillips nominated Yvette Cooper for leader and Tom Watson for Deputy Leader.[13][14]

Jess Phillips was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Lucy Powell, then Shadow Education Secretary, in September 2015.[15]

Clash with Diane Abbott

Jess Phillips verbally clashed with fellow MP Diane Abbott on 14 September 2015 over the gender composition of Jeremy Corbyn's first Shadow Cabinet. After she asked Corbyn why he had failed to appoint a woman to shadow the great offices of state, Abbott accused her of being "sanctimonious" and pointed out that Phillips was "not the only feminist in the Parliamentary Labour Party". Corbyn did not intervene.[16] Owen Bennett wrote in The Huffington Post that Phillips recounted: "'I roundly told her to fuck off.' When asked what Ms Abbott did after that suggestion, Ms Phillips replied: 'She fucked off'."[17]

Feminist

In October 2015, Jess Phillips caused controversy by mocking Philip Davies MP for trying to get a debate about International Men's Day.[18] Phillips said "You’ll have to excuse me for laughing. As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day."[19][20][21] Following her objections, Phillips was subjected to rape threats on social media.[22][23] Phillips said she did not attend the debate in November to avoid her clash with Davies becoming the dominant issue.[24]

"I wouldn’t even rape you"

UKIP European parliamentary candidate for SouthWest England, Carl Benjamin took to Twitter in 2016 to tell Jess Phillips, "I wouldn’t even rape you", after she complained about a rise in rape threats on social media.[25]

Launching UKIP's European elections at a press conference on 18 April 2019, Carl Benjamin blasted journalists quizzing him on the controversial post:

"I said ‘I wouldn’t even...’. That’s not a threat, it’s actually just offensive," he told reporters.
“I’m not going to be apologising for my crimes against political correctness. I hate political correctness."

The video blogger added:

“I didn’t think there’s any difference in how you should treat [a man or a woman], unlike The Establishment, unlike our judges - who literally say:
'if you were a man I would send you to jail'."
“If a woman is being a giant bitch and laughing about male suicide I’m going to be a giant dick back to her. Any questions?”

It is unclear what comments about male suicide he was referring to.

Gerard Batten was meanwhile quizzed by Channel 4 News on whether he was willing to be associated with such remarks.

The UKIP leader replied:

“These gentlemen are free speech merchants. They’ve been comedy acts… If they make jokes as part of their act - I’m not condoning any jokes - but this is what they are. Do you realise how few people watch Channel 4?.. You are an endless stream of left-wing political correctness."

As BBC News pressed the question, Batten replied:

“That’s all you want to talk about? Our country’s future is on the line [and it's] all you can talk about, and the vast mass of people out there couldn’t care less.”

Responding the latest remarks on Twitter, Jess Philips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley said:

"Carl Benjamin will forever have whatever career he has defined by me, he will hear my name wherever he goes. His whole political life defined by little feminist Jess, that my friends is comedy."[26]



References

  1. "Labour's female MPs vow to use Commons strength to improve lives of women"
  2. Perraudin, Frances (14 December 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips will 'knife Corbyn in the front' if he damages party". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.

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  3. "I would knife Jeremy Corbyn in the front not the back" Owen Jones meets Jess Phillips
  4. "Watch Jess Phillips MP make the most ludicrous accusation of antisemitism to date"
  5. "Jess Phillips: ‘I think I’d be a good prime minister’"
  6. "Jess Phillips Emerges as Establishment Pick to Replace Corbyn"
  7. "Commentator Linda Vaux was not impressed"
  8. "Election 2010 – Constituency – Birmingham Yardley". BBC News Online.

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  9. "Election 2015: The political battleground". BBC News Online.

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  10. "Birmingham Yardley Parliamentary constituency". BBC News Online. Retrieved 7 May 2015.

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  11. "Birmingham, Yardley". The Daily Telegraph.

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  12. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 May 2015 (pt 0003)". Hansard.

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  13. Neil Elkes (14 May 2015). "New Yardley MP backs Yvette Cooper for Labour leadership". Birmingham Mail.

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  14. "Who nominated who in the 2015 Labour deputy leadership election?". New Statesman. 17 June 2015.

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  15. "Jeremy Corbyn appoints Steve Rotheram as his Parliamentary aide". The Huffington Post UK. 30 September 2015.

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  16. Dathan, Matt (15 September 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips told Diane Abbott to 'f*** off' in Jeremy Corbyn sexism row". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.

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  17. Bennett, Owen (17 September 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips: I Told Diane Abbott To F*ck Off During Feminism Row". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016.

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  18. Wheeler, Brian (19 November 2015). "Guide to International Men's Day". Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via http://www.bbc.co.uk.

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  19. "Labour MP Jess Phillips targeted by trolls after scoffing at men's rights debate request". ITV News. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2017.

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  20. "Philip Davies MP: 'Political correctness is damaging men'". Retrieved 25 November 2016.

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  21. Dathan, Matt (11 November 2015). "Tory MP wins battle for International Men's Day debate in Parliament". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.

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  22. Perraudin, Frances (30 October 2015). "MPs rally in support of colleague subjected to rape threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015.

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  23. "Labour MP Jess Phillips targeted by trolls after scoffing at men's rights debate request". ITV News.

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  24. Phillips, Jess (19 November 2015). "We need International Men's Day about as much as white history month, or able body action day". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.

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  25. "Ukip leader says ‘wouldn’t rape MP’ comment was ‘just a Twitter exchange’"
  26. "Ukip candidate brands Labour MP Jess Phillips a 'b*tch' and doubles down on rape comments at chaotic campaign launch"
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