Katy Balls

Podcast: Jess Phillips – My family left Labour over Blair and Iraq

Podcast: Jess Phillips – My family left Labour over Blair and Iraq
Text settings

Jess Phillips is viewed as an outside bet when it comes to the Labour leadership race. While she has a good chance of making it through the parliamentary round, Phillips will have her work cut out among the membership. The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley has been openly critical of Jeremy Corbyn and also once told key Corbyn ally Diane Abbott to 'f--- off' (see Steerpike for full details of the incident). Another issue is that in comparison to some of the candidates (as Isabel noted on Coffee House) less is known of Phillips's political beliefs in terms of policy.

I sat down with Phillips last year to record an episode of the Spectator's Women With Balls podcast. Below were the key takeaways – and the full episode can be listened to here:

Phillips grew up in a political family where it was expected that you would support Labour:

‘It’s a bit like being religious I suppose. I didn’t come from a religious background but I imagine it’s like going to church every Sunday – being brought up with a political belief system is the same as a moral belief system. What I would certainly say is there was no choice in it – as I got older we were entitled to make our own decisions but I say that in the loosest sense as if we had voted Tory, you wouldn’t be able to admit that – it’s like you would have to come out as a Tory voter.’

She opposed the Iraq war – and marched over it:

'In my final year [at university] I did go on, or maybe I’d left by then, I went on the Iraq war march, but not from university, I went with me mum and dad.'

'My parents left [Labour] over Blair and Iraq and they were definitely still paying my membership fees because they paid it for all of us. It was not negotiable that we would be members of the Labour party and they stopped over Blair and Iraq, so we all left over Blair and Iraq.'

Phillips thinks that it is right to speak to people you disagree with in politics:

‘I have to work alongside people who I fiercely disagree with. I actually think it is dangerous and a really bad example to allow that to turn into hatred. I can’t remember who said it but it’s like drinking poison everyday and expecting it to kill your enemy.’