Enough is enough. Jess Phillips has shamed Labour and Birmingham with her latest stunt. [OPINION]

Support us and go ad-free

On Monday 18 December, Labour MP Jess Phillips attended a private drinks reception hosted by the boss of The Sun, Rupert Murdoch. For me, it shows that the Birmingham Yardley MP has gone too far – shaming both the city and the Labour Party.

Partying with Phillips

The SKWAWKBOX, Politico and The Evening Standard all reported Phillips’ attendance at Murdoch’s drinks reception. Politico said that, at the “party of the night” hosted by Murdoch:

Among the politicians… were Dominic Raab… Tom Tugendhat… Kemi Badenoch… Jess Phillips… Priti Patel…

Phillips was the only Labour MP mentioned. So I emailed and called Phillips’ office to confirm her attendance. A member of her office said she would “flag” to Phillips that I called and get her to look at my email.

Phillips never responded, but a senior Labour source confirmed to me that she had attended the party, and was the only Labour MP to do so. And in my book, a Labour MP going to a “private” Murdoch event is very problematic; not least because of The Sun newspaper. Should Phillips really be schmoozing with the owner of a right-wing tabloid?

Immigrants

The Sun has previously been accused of “fuelling prejudice”. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance has said [pdf, p18] it and other tabloid newspapers have used “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology”. And the UN Human Rights Chief compared a Katie Hopkins Sun column attacking refugees to the “Nazi media” of the 1930s.

Birmingham, where Phillips is an MP, had given 50 Syrian refugees homes as of September 2016. The city is also home to over 230,000 people born outside the UK, accounting for 22% of its population. I wonder how they feel about one of their MPs privately associating with the owner of a newspaper which repeatedly demonises them?

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Disabled people

According to a 2011 report [pdf, p10] by Glasgow University, at the time of the research 0% of The Sun‘s articles were about “deserving” benefit claimants between 2010 and 2011. More recently, the Chair of a UN committee said [20:43] the media “have some responsibility” for society seeing [20.12] disabled people as “parasites, living on social benefits… and [living on] the taxes of other people”. Headlines like this from The Sun don’t help:

The Sun Benefits Jess Phillips One

The Sun Benefits Jess Phillips Two

In November 2016, Greater Birmingham and Solihull had 167,680 people claiming benefits; 9,140 of them were disabled people. I wonder how they would feel about one of their MPs partying with a newspaper owner responsible for demonising them?

And this is without the opinions of Labour voters in Liverpool, who were all victims of The Sun‘s stance on the Hillsborough disaster.

Women

On 20 December, Phillips tweeted regarding the SKWAWKBOX article and Murdoch:

Phillips has done some important and well-regarded work on women’s rights and tackling abuse and misogyny. And she, of course, used to work for a women’s refuge charity. But many believe The Sun doesn’t share Phillips’ values. Ellie Woodward, writing for BuzzFeed last year, said that a Sun column about actress Emma Watson:

dismissed her words and mocked her abilities – only exemplifying the sexism Watson has been fighting to overturn.

Schmoozing Murdoch? Just no.

If Labour MPs wish to work in a professional capacity with a Murdoch paper “to put pressure on government”, then that is their choice. But ultimately, they should not be privately schmoozing with Murdoch. Simply because his media empire’s disgusting stance on so many issues is completely at odds with democratic socialist values. So for me, Phillips has crossed a line with her party and her city. Because she has truly shamed them both this time.

This article was updated at 2:43pm on 22 December to remove the word “former” from before “UN Human Rights Chief”. While Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has announced he will not seek a second four-year term, he will only officially leave his post in September 2018.

Get Involved!

– Read and support independent news outlets that hold the powerful to account. Here are some we recommend. Please add more that you like in the comments:

The CanaryThe InterceptMedia DiversifiedNovara MediaCorporate WatchCommon SpaceMedia LensBella CaledoniaVox PoliticalEvolve PoliticsReal MediaReel NewsSTRIKE! magazineThe Bristol CableThe MeteorSalford StarThe Ferret.

Featured image via Pixabay/YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed