British politician (born 1981)
Jessica Rose Phillips (née Trainor; born 9 October 1981) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Yardley since 2015. A member of the Labour Party, she has been Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding in Keir Starmer's Opposition frontbench since 2020.
- I roundly told her to fuck off .... She fucked off. People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute.
- Response to conflict with Diane Abbott in Parliament. "Labour MP Jess Phillips told Diane Abbott to 'f*** off' in Jeremy Corbyn sexism row" The Independent (17 September 2015)
- During the first meeting of Labour MPs (14 September 2015) after he became party leader/leader of the opposition, Phillips asked Jeremy Corbyn why a woman had not been appointed to shadow any of the three other great offices of state (those being Home and Foreign Secretary and Chancellor). In response, Abbott had said "you’re not the only feminist in the PLP (Parliamentary Labour party)", but in 2018 said Phillips had not responded to her in the manner described.
- I would do anything that I felt was going to make the Labour party win the general election because if I don’t have that attitude then all I’m doing is colluding with the Tories.
If that means making Jeremy better, I’ll roll my sleeves up. If that’s not going to happen – and I’ve said [this] to him and to 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.'
- Interview with Owen Jones, cited by Frances Perraudin in "Labour MP Jess Phillips will 'knife Corbyn in the front' if he damages party" The Guardian (14 December 2015). Responding to criticism of her language, the article says Phillips tweeted: "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."
- I am, however, still dubious about the need for an international men's day in and of itself. For me it is up there with needing a white history month, or able body action day. Men are celebrated, elevated and awarded every day of the week on every day of the year. Being a man is its own reward. You hit the jackpot when you are born a boy child. Yes within your group things are tough for all sorts of reasons. None of them are because you are a man. You might be a poor man, a sick man, a marginalised minority ethnic man. Brother, I'm with you. I'll carry your banner, sing your song of freedom, I'll even carry your coats and make the sandwiches.
- "We need International Men's Day about as much as white history month, or able body action day" The Independent (19 November 2015).
- One of the things I want to achieve in the potentially short time I'm in Westminster is to stop people thinking we're all the same. Because while they believe that, the establishment stays in the same people’s hands. Nothing changes. It is awful to hear people on the doorstep saying: "You politicians are all in it for yourselves." But that's nowhere near as bad as hearing that people feel they have no one to represent them. That's the disaster, not the fact that I have to weather a Twitter storm.
- Interviewed by Rachel Cooke in "Jess Phillips: someone to believe in" The Observer (6 March 2016).
- All the talk about rebuilding the economy post-pandemic, post-Brexit, post-austerity, is always about diggers [...] I mean, do something to make sure everyone gets to play with the digger. What have they done to get more women signed up to digger courses? Make sure I can control a digger.
- [Referring to domestic violence.] It took until the third [statement during the first lockdown] for the prime minister to even mention it. And the first penny that reached the frontline was five months after the crisis started. It’s not for the want of people like me, in the beginning, being like 'we should think about this'. When Covid-19 was still just a thing in China, we were talking about rising rates of domestic abuse that were being reported by Chinese charities.
- We punish mothers for falling prey, rather than see how we can help them be the best moms that they can be and support them. We treat people terribly – we tell people that it's their fault that they're victims and that they're going to have their children removed because they haven’t protected them.
- Quoted in Emine Saner "Jess Phillips: 'Motherhood made me feel like I mattered. I wish that wasn't the case'" The Guardian (22 February 2021)
- [M]aking women as important as bins.
- Interviewed by Janice Turner "Jess Phillips: 'The only way a woman will become Labour leader is if men don’t stand'" The Times (17 July 2021)
- When asked on her greatest achievement as an MP. The then new Domestic Abuse Act introduced a statutory requirement for local councils to run women's refuges in addition to collecting refuse and running social services.
- In the Johnson and Cummings era of government, it was often assumed that anything that happened in Westminster was a group of political geniuses playing 3D chess and laying traps for the Labour Party (or opponents from within the government) to fall in to.
It did sometimes feel true, although it was my experience that it was more by accident than design. I think it might be fair to say that they were playing 2D chess with quite some skill – until they weren’t. Liz Truss, it would seem, cannot even play 1D chess. In fact, I am not sure her particular operation could be compared to the shape-sorting toys a one-year-old can master.
- "Jess Phillips: This is what I witnessed last night in parliament – it was not OK" The Independent (21 October 2022)
- I have seen again and again how women’s lives are considered a niche issue rather than the main event. If there are no powerful women in the room, it will continue to happen. I can already hear the rebuttal that Liz Truss was a woman and she was dreadful, but that argument only holds if you think that Liz Truss is the embodiment of all women and her failure belongs to us all.
Liz Truss didn’t fail because she was a woman, she failed because she was a right-wing ideologue who was unfit for the job. I can see plenty of those left around the cabinet table so they can’t be too fussed about that.
- "Jess Phillips: Where are all the senior women in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet?" The Independent (27 October 2022).
- You get low-level sexism all the time. I’ve defended other women in the chamber. I know women who work for me, certainly Black women, have found Westminster to be oppressive.
Lots of men shush me because I’m quite rowdy. I get lots of comments like "calm down, the honourable lady acts with her heart". In the post-Me Too world, you get joking comments like "am I allowed to ask you to pass the milk?" or "I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this to me, but you look lovely". ...
Quite a lot of Tory men treat me like I’m some sort of exotic bird. People act like I’m either a pain or something to be marvelled at. You can see sometimes in meetings, women are asked to do things like get the tea. The expectation of them being stupid and annoying is quite common – that is very irritating. There is a power imbalance, there is an element of impunity.
- On misogyny in the Palace of Westminster. Quoted in Maya Oppenheim "Fishnets and Tinder: Women MPs reveal toxic sexism in Westminster" The Independent (10 January 2023).
- But what mattered most to [Karen] Ingala Smith were women’s names, not numbers. So in 2016 she was delighted when the Labour MP Jess Phillips – who’d previously worked for Women's Aid – asked to read them out on International Women's Day. Now this roll call of more than 120 stolen lives, recited to a hushed House of Commons, has become an annual commemoration. "Dead women is a thing we’ve all just accepted as part of our daily lives," Phillips said last year, when among the names was Sarah Everard. The list not only put male violence in the national spotlight but, says Ingala Smith, "Family after family have said how important it is to hear their loved one’s name read out in parliament, and know it is recorded in Hansard for ever."
- Janice Turner "Counting Dead Women: my mission to save victims of violence", The Times (26 November 2022)