Jess Phillips MP headshotJess Phillips Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

The Truth Hurts More Than the Conspiracy

July 5, 2016 - 9:53am By: Jess

This week I have read many things in newspapers and online that are utter rubbish. Just simply not true. I’ve been sent messages about my “grand plans” by people who, I can only assume, think that the moon landing was a hoax and that Lord Lucan is currently sunning himself in a mankini sat with Anastasia and Rasputin on at a hedonism resort in Jamaica, sipping cocktails from a bar staffed by Tom Cruise and Brian Brown. Oh, if only I could join them for some fantasy lols. I’m in desperate need of some lols.

Yes, the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting was angry. Yes, people told our Leader he was not popular with the people in their constituencies. There were cross words and angry moments. Most of the anger spilled over when MPs stood and talked of the threats and abuse we and our staff have suffered at the hands of some Corbyn supporters. I’ve read accounts, not by him I hasten to add, about how Jeremy was close to tears, bullied to silence. It is simply not true. He was not silent, he said his piece. There were tears in the meeting, they were not his I can assure you. After the PLP meeting I went to the bar and had a drink with two of my colleagues Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis. “How can that be?” say the feverish conspiracy theorists. “Surely this mudblood treacherous woman can’t be friends with two pureblood Corbyn cabinet builders?” Guess what, the facts are far less delicious and divisive than the fiction.

It is so easy to think about this whole episode in the Labour Party as binary, where one side is good, another bad. There is good and bad on both sides. I don’t think Jeremy lunged at the female journalist as was reported, but he was definitely losing his rag. Similarly, myself and others in the PLP have lost our rag over the last week. The truth is we are all rung out, tired, emotional and, above all else, I am scared.

It has been an awful week. I have barely eaten or slept and I’ve been sick. I’ve talked my children to sleep because they are scared by the man who came to our house and put in new security to keep us safe. I’ve had to call the police to attend my surgeries. I sat in my surgery this weekend and hoped that every time someone went to pull something out of their bag that it was paperwork. None of it is rational perhaps, but this is how I feel. I wonder if those sending me hate, bile and threats in Corbyn’s name care.

I can put up with all of this anxiety if what I am fighting for has a chance of coming true. I can face fear, hatred and insomnia when I’m fighting a war to keep funding for refuges, save our NHS, help every kid get the opportunities they deserve and end the current misery faced by many disabled people. It becomes unbearable if you feel that you have no chance of achieving those things because the vehicle you are using to do it is faulty.

I’ve been asked every day this week to appear on telly, radio or write articles. I’ve said no to hundreds of requests mainly because I felt too ill. The conspiracy theorists chatter on my Twitter that I was silent because I’m ashamed of a plan (which I knew nothing about) or that I have no answers. They call me a weasel for not facing the public. Incidentally these are the same people who slag me off for going on the telly and call me a media whore. Oh, and the same ones who say Jeremy is principled for not going on the telly. Pick a lane dudes, and stick in it. The truth is far less fanciful, I just wasn’t well enough to face it. I feel empty and pointless. (Please refrain from sending me messages saying I am empty and pointless, it is too predictable not to make you look, well predictable).

When Jo Cox died my son asked me if it was worth being an MP, I gently tried to reassure him that the privilege of helping people meant that it was. I was wrong, it is not worth it if I can change nothing. I’d rather sleep in my own bed every night, take my kids to school every day and have my weekends to myself if all I’m going to achieve is that I had a few years bobbing up and down on some tired benches in a palace.

I wish some of the things that have been said about me this week were true. I sound like a genuine sleeper cell badass. I wish that it wasn’t just my principles, beliefs and my heart that guided me last week; if I’d had a ten point plan for dastardly duplicity it might have been more fun. The truth is it hurt.
First published online on 03/07/2016 at


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