Jess Phillips: Voice Of Doom With An Agenda

When I read this yesterday: ‘Asked if Labour could win [the next general election] she [Jess Phillips] said: “The honest answer is: ‘no, absolutely not;’ my initial reaction was curiosity.

So please tell me Jess, how long have you had this gift of prophecy? Long odds betting must be a nice little earner on top of your ‘meager’ MP’s salary of £74,000 plus expenses. I expect you had a little flutter on Jeremy Corbyn winning the leadership when it was still a 200/1 bet. And what odds did you get when you placed your bet on the Tories winning a majority? Must have a nice little nest egg by now.

Ok yes, I’m being sarcastic, but that’s because none of us can predict the outcome of the next general election, particularly in such uncertain times. The ripples set in motion by the financial crash are altering the electoral landscape across the world in unpredictable ways. Austerity is biting hard, and recent polls suggest public support for cuts are flagging. Throw into the mix the refugee crisis and the European referendum – the results of which may trigger yet another Independence referendum in Scotland – and the electoral horizon couldn’t be foggier. Yet there’s the voice of doom, Jess Phillips, confidently predicting Labour cannot win in four years time!

If I said I was angry at Jess Phillips over this I’d be lying. The negativity from our own MPs is so predictable by now I’m starting to grow resigned to it. Clearly for them, the real enemy is Corbyn, not the Conservatives, which is why their guns are so often trained on him. Besides, Jess and her fellow plotters want me and others like me to get angry. Anger is mobilising in short bursts, but when you feel constantly angry about a situation over which you have limited control, it wears you out, exhausts you, depresses you. I’ve seen the trap now so I will do my best to side step it. What I will do though is call them out on their behaviour (when I feel moved enough to do so via this blog), and/or report them to the chairman of the Labour Party for unprofessional conduct. It might not achieve much but it’s good to vent.

The complaint I’m planning to write about Jess Phillips will probably go something like this: “It is highly inappropriate for a sitting Labour MP to spread such blanket negativity about her own party’s electoral chances in the press. Clearly she has done so in an attempt to hamper Labour’s chances, because frankly, if I’d been a potential Labour voter reading the paper that day, I’d probably think to myself, ‘What’s the point voting Labour when their own MPs say they don’t have a chance?'”

I must confess there was one section of Jess’s comment that tickled me. It was the part where she says, ‘the honest answer is,’ because I’ve never heard a least honest answer in my life. An honest answer from Jess might have gone something like this: ‘Asked if Labour could win Jess Phillips said: “The honest answer is I ruddy well hope not; not as long as Corbyn is leader. If Yvette Cooper – my choice for leader – had won, she’d have given my career a nice leg up. I’m very ambitious you see so it still wrankles. I’m not sure what my futures going to be in this new version of Labour. The sooner us plotters can get shot of Jeremy, and those lefty members that will hopefully leave in their droves if we oust him, the sooner I can get my career back on track.

Not that it’s all about me. Everyone knows Jeremy’s not leadership material. A leader should be an arrogant careerist with an ego the size of Mars who loves the sound of their own voice. That’s just not Jeremy is it?’

And then with a weary despairing sigh we could have replied, ‘No Jess it’s not. And that’s why we chose him.’


Spurned Labour right says, ‘If we can’t have you, no one will!’

The Labour Right are behaving like spurned lovers who post revenge porn.

I am seriously trying to get my head round the behaviour of the right of the Labour Party.
I understand they feel shocked and rejected after Corbyn’s massive landslide win. The bit I struggle with is their need to shout their bitterness from the rooftops, or in this case from the front pages of the red tops. It’s just so undignified. They are starting to look like a lover who can’t accept they’ve been jilted. Even worse, they are starting to look like the type of jilted lover who lays all the blame for their rejection at everyone else’s door except their own.


Not for them a period of dignified silence as they lick their wounds in private. Of course not. If we are discovering anything about this wing of the party, it’s they crave attention. A dignified silence would earn them no publicity (and I’m not suggesting for a moment they shouldn’t express dissent through open respectful debate). Even more chilling a prospect to them – it might aid and abet a Corbyn led Labour victory in 2020, which would be the equivalent of seeing an ex lover go on to marry the person they left you for. It’s much more satisfying to phone everyone they know, especially their friends in the media, to regale them with tales of anguish and woe.

If they had engaged in a period of reflection, they might have benefitted from asking themselves the following questions. Did we take the members for granted? Were we offering a hopeful, inspiring vision for the future, or did we sound too much like business as usual? Were we dull? Did we sound out of touch? Did anyone know what we actually stood for? Were we too technocratic and stage managed? Were we focus group led rather than value led? I could suggest more points to reflect on but I fear I’d be wasting my time.

I used to wonder what they were hoping to achieve by their destructive behavior (telling Sky reporters they’ve nicknamed Corbyn ‘Jihadi Jez’ – Refusing to say they support him in an interview on live TV – Storming out of a PLP meeting, grabbing the first available journalist and telling them you feel sick with it all – Telling a conference fringe meeting the party is fucked, or a group of Uni students it’s in the shit. Sadly I could go on, but I won’t).

Are they hoping to sabotage Jeremy’s chances so they can gleefully say ‘we told you so!’? Are they provoking us into a purge so they can stand as independents to split the Labour vote? Do they want us, the members, to lose faith in Jeremy by making him look powerless in the face of an adversarial PLP?
Or do they genuinely believe their own excuse, which is ‘Jeremy is unelectable so the sooner he realises that and resigns, the better?’ If that’s true their arrogance is mind boggling.
Don’t they know politics is unpredictable? Look at what’s happened in Scotland, in Greece. If political mood never changed women still wouldn’t have the vote, and trade unions would still be a dream in someone’s head.


They say their first priority is to represent, not the Labour members, but their constituents. But we are their constituents. We are teachers, care assistants, police officers, supermarket staff, and unemployed. We are young, old, and middle aged. We are home owners, renters, borrowers and savers. We are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. We are disabled, mentally ill, and carers. We are black, white, atheist, Christian, Muslim and Jew. We are the ones with our fingers on the pulse of this country, not them, and we feel it growing weaker and weaker as the Tories bleed it of its life blood. Jeremy was offering the country a blood transfusion, while the right of the party were going to let it bleed to death. That’s why we chose Jeremy.



So what do we do about these ‘spurned lovers’. Do we let them lash out at Jeremy indefinitely? Do we deselect them and give them the excuse to call us ideological purists? I honestly wish I knew what the answer was. I still have a small shred of hope the right of the party will come to accept this new reality and help us oppose the Tories, rather than Jeremy. I hope they will come to see themselves through our eyes.

If they ever want us to take them back, as unlikely a scenario as that is, they need to start earning our respect, not behaving like the bitter twisted lover who posts revenge porn on Facebook.


By Michelle (Chelley) Ryan @chelleryn99