Jess Phillips Early Life
Jess Phillips (Jessica Rose Phillips), born 9 October 1981, is a British Labour Party politician. She has served as the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley since the 2015 general election. Phillips is a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party in the 2020 leadership election. Jess Phillips has spent her time in Parliament speaking out on issues close to her heart from the backbenches.
Ms Phillips was born in 1981 in Birmingham to her parents Stewart Trainor – a teacher – and Jean Trainor – the deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation. Her grandfather was a cartoonist for Labour politician Tony Benn, and she has said she and her three older siblings grew up in a politically active household.
After going to her local grammar school, King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, she went on to study economic and social history and social policy at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2003. She has written two books, with her first – Everywoman, One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth – bought by a TV company to adapt for screen.
Jessica Rose Phillips Biography and Profile
Jessica Rose Phillips, born on 9 October 1981, she was raised in Birmingham, Phillips received a comprehensive political education from her family, describing growing up with her father as “like growing up with Jeremy Corbyn”. Obsessed with politics from a young age, her childhood ambition was to be the Prime Minister. Outspoken and honest, the Birmingham Yardley MP has been unafraid to launch stinging attacks on Tory ministers from the backbenches, while using her sizeable media profile to criticise those within her own party who she believes are pushing Labour in the wrong direction. And it is this brand of radical honesty which she hopes can change her party’s fortunes after yet another torrid election performance, pitching her campaign with the slogan: “Speak Truth. Win Power.”
Despite being frequently described as a “Blairite”, Phillips actually resigned from the party over the Iraq War before rejoining after the 2010 General Election. But unlike some of her fellow candidates, the Birmingham Yardley MP is happy to highlight the successes of New Labour, writing in the Mirror: “For people like me, in places like Birmingham where I come from, our lives were made better through tax credits and Sure Start centres.”
Before entering Parliament in 2015, Phillips worked for domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, a role which she credits with giving her the strength to stand up against a torrent of social media abuse aimed at her from all sides of the political divide.
“This is nothing,” she told the Guardian in 2016. “I used to have to see off angry perpetrators off at the door”.
Who is Jess Phillips?
Jess Phillips began her career working for her parents’ company Health Links, which specialised in running events for the health, social and environmental sectors. In 2010, she joined Women’s Aid, managing domestic abuse refuges in the West Midlands. She then returned to studying, going to the University of Birmingham to get a postgraduate diploma in public sector management. Ms Phillips had been a member of the Labour Party, but left in 2005 in protest at the Iraq War.
However, she rejoined ahead of the 2010 election and got involved in local politics, starting a campaign in King’s Heath, Birmingham, to combat arson attacks on cars.
In 2013, Ms Phillips was selected to contest the seat of Birmingham Yardley from an all-women shortlist.
The seat was held by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, but in the 2015 election, she won it with more than 40% of the votes and a majority of more than 6,500.
Labour MPs were then thrown straight into a leadership contest, and Ms Phillips gave her backing to Yvette Cooper, not Jeremy Corbyn.
It didn’t take her long to get a reputation for being critical about the new Labour leader.
parliamentary private secretary to Lucy Powell
She initially took a role as a parliamentary private secretary to Lucy Powell – then shadow education secretary – but she joined Ms Powell and other frontbench members in resigning in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
Phillips continued to criticise Mr Corbyn for the gender make-up
Ms Phillips continued to criticise Mr Corbyn for the gender make-up of his shadow cabinet, and for his handling of allegations in the party of both anti-Semitism and sexual harassment.
Jessica Rose Phillips once told Guardian columnist Owen Jones, a supporter of Mr Corbyn: “The day that you [Mr Corbyn] are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front.”
Phillips praised as a strong speaker from the backbenchers
Ms Phillips has sat on a number of select committees and has been praised as a strong speaker from the backbenchers, often focusing on issues around women’s rights and austerity.
Each year, Jessica Rose Phillips reads out a list of names of women killed by their partner or ex-partner to highlight domestic abuse. She has also spoken out about the amount of online abuse she and other MPs receive.
Phillips supported remaining in the EU
She supported remaining in the EU, despite her constituency voting to leave, and has hinted at the possibility of supporting campaigns to rejoin the EU after Brexit.
Labour Party Leadership Contender
Jessica Rose Phillips announced she was running to replace Jeremy Conrbyn because she believed “we need more honesty in politics.” She launched her campaign in Grimsby – a former Labour seat lost to the Tories in the 2019 election – telling supporters “something has to change”, and promising to “truly speak truth to power”.
“I’m able to reach people… and I’m able to get people to trust me even when they don’t agree with me, and I think that’s what politics needs,” she said.
Jess Phillips posted a video on Twitter alongside her campaign launch to show her in her local community. In it, she said: “It’s time to speak up, to stand up for our values and what we believe, to reconnect with communities and to win back power.”
As a vocal critic of her party’s leadership since becoming an MP in 2015, Jess Phillips will have to work to mend the rift with her own grassroots before she attempts to mend divisions across the country.
On 23 February 2017, her first book, Everywoman, One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth, was published by Penguin Books. In May 2019, the book was optioned to be adapted as a television drama by RED Production Company.
Her second book, Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S., was published by Octopus on 3 October 2019.
Jessica Rose Phillips Family
Jessica Rose Phillips is married to former lift engineer Tom Phillips, and the couple have two sons.
Jessica Rose Phillips Biography and Profile