Jess Phillips Jeered At The Count For The “Worst Election I Have Ever Stood In”

She said there was no way she could bring her children to the count

Jess Philips

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Jess Phillips may have won back her seat of Birmingham Yardley but she spent election day needing to make several calls to the local police over alleged aggression to her by political opponents.

No matter your political leanings, one of the most beautiful parts of seeing plenty of Conservatives lose their seats, is their dignity and humility in their concession speeches. We’ve also seen it from Labour MPs who’ve lost their seats.

However, no such luck from Phillips’ constituency, where the former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, was loudly booed when the count came in and showed she had (just) 693 votes more than the independent candidate, Jody McIntyre.

Jess Phillips is a prominent Labour backbencher, who regularly uses International Women’s Day debates to read out loud the name of every single woman who’s been killed in the past year by male violence, or, where the case is still ongoing, the suspect is a man. A former refuge worker, she resigned “with a heavy heart” from Keir Starmer’s cabinet in November 2023 after opposing his instructions to not vote on a ceasefire in Gaza, which has been under Israeli fire since the October 7th Hamas-led attacks on Israel.

Jody, meanwhile, is a former student protestor and disability rights advocate, who converted to Islam and decided to run against Jess in Birmingham Yardley as a candidate for George Galloway’s Worker’s Party. McIntyre is a local resident who was, according to a statement, “shocked and dismayed” to learn that Jess is a member of a group called Labour Friends for Israel. The organisation’s mission statement is for a two-state solution and to strengthen ties between the UK’s Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party, which has a less aggressive stance towards Hamas-run Gaza than the Prime Minister Netanyahu.

When Phillips was called out on Twitter/X for her association with the group by the Worker’s Party, she responded by sharing her record on supporting Gazan people.

This, and her re-election - with just 693 votes, mind - hasn’t been enough for some people at the count, who decided to jeer her as she curtseyed, celebrating - in a small way - her narrow win over McIntyre.

As she made her acceptance speech, Phillips was drowned out by cheers of “Jody! Jody!” and “shame on you! Shame on you!” Before beginning “I see we’re going to continue with the class we saw during the campaign...I understand that a strong woman standing up to you is met with such reticence”

She used her acceptance speech to, firstly, point out the issues faced during her campaign, which she called “the worst election I have ever stood in”. There was the local community events organiser who, after campaigning with Jess, saw the tyres of her car slashed. A young woman who was leafleting for her was “filmed and screamed at by a much older man in the street”.

She was meant to be joined by her old friend Jo Cox’s family on the campaign trail but, she added, “there was absolutely no way I could have allowed for them to see what was aggressive, and violence in our democracy.” She also said she couldn’t bring her children to the count because she knew the abuse would come their way, but had hope that a Labour government would help clean up politics.

However, she went on to talk of the positives; of how “everything that [my parents] ever had, that my children had, that I had as a child, was provided for us by successive Labour governments.” And her hopes for what the new government could offer to the country and her constancy.

The bittersweet part was when she had to thank West Midlands Police for “the constant phone calls they’e had to take from me today and for their responses to the aggression that we have suffered.”

A little while later she spoke to the BBC and concluded, that despite the issues in her constituency, which also saw a pull to Reform, that: “you know what, I won, and so did the Labour Party, so I’m quite chuffed!”

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