Festival of Ideas May 2017
In the world of politics, telling the truth might seem low on the list of priorities – but this is just one of the reasons why Labour MP Jess Phillips has created such a storm since her election to Parliament in 2015.
Simultaneously described ‘a breath of fresh air’ and ‘a pain in the arse’, she makes no apology for shouting long and loudly about things she cares about. Whether it is for women’s equality, refugees’ rights, highlighting poverty in the UK or serving her Birmingham Yardley constituents, in just over a year Jess Phillips has become renowned as a politician who tells the truth.
She gives an account of her life, from her childhood in a fiercely socialist and feminist family in Birmingham, to her student days at Leeds University, to her surprising victory in the 2015 election, to being a newbie in Parliament. She reminds us that we each have a part to play in this world, and describes what it is like to be an MP – a group of people who have taken the brunt of the political apathy sweeping the world but who as a whole serve their constituency with dedication and sincerity.
Jess Phillips was elected the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015. Before this she worked with victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking, and continues to speak out on behalf of those who struggle to have their voice heard. She has worked with the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues of Violence Against Women and Girls. She is one of the women who launched the #NotTheCost campaign to combat the violence faced by politically active women, and the Recl@im the Internet campaign, which challenges abuse online.
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Image: © Nicola Tree