Faux apologies: Jess Phillips takes gold

11 Jun

Labour’s incredible showing? One of the few real apologies to date has been from an Owen Jones big enough to come out with the three toughest words in the English language: I am sorry. Good on you, Owen. Meanwhile, in the face of stiff competition along lines helpfully spelled out in the header to Nick Cohen’s Graun piece today – I was wrong about Corbyn BUT – the appalling Jess Phillips snatches gold for faux apologies from the Get Corbyn B-Team.

Her own Graun piece today – deliciously devoid of irony in its header, We all of us need to eat humble pie – is worth reading in full for two reasons. One is to get the extent of this Labour MP’s hubris and immaturity. The other is to appreciate more fully the translation offered by below the line commentator Andy Platt. Phillips wrote:

The ability to say “I was wrong” or to own up to your mistakes is very powerful. I teach my children that admitting fault is the quickest way to stop the problem, move on and get on with whatever it is you should be doing. This was clearly not a lesson learned by Theresa May. Her inability to just say “Sorry, folks, turns out you didn’t like the dementia tax, so I’ve changed my mind” has cost her dear.

The desire to look strong and decisive, instead of looking human, is the fatal flaw of so many politicians, and I will never understand why the favoured path of the political class is akin to a child with chocolate smeared on their face insisting that they didn’t eat the edible Christmas tree ornaments while their parents slept. We all cock up; we should own it and move on.

A little bit of mea culpa goes a long way, and the Labour party has a lot of humble-pie eating to do, too. We shall return to parliament this week; I would be lying if I denied that I cannot wait to sit opposite the Tories and laugh at their massive arrogance and complacency, but we have to get our own house in order, too. If Labour reacts to the election result with its own complacency, we will look like a party happy to be in opposition.

For those of us who always worried about Jeremy Corbyn’s electability, it is time to stand up and say that we got some of that wrong. There will be a number of different reactions from my colleagues in the parliamentary Labour party who doubted Corbyn. One camp will just jump on the Team Corbyn bandwagon and sign up wholesale to whatever it takes to be in the gang. Another group will still remain a thorn in his side, blindly rejecting the positives, not dissimilar to the group Corbyn was part of in the Blair years.

The group I will be in is the one that recognises that we didn’t win this election, but we are on the way to winning the next one if we get it right. I will never be a blinkered cheerleader of anyone (ask my kids), and while I got his electability half wrong I would be doing him and the country a disservice by donning the white robes of worship and ignoring my concerns.

Throughout the election I have communicated with Jeremy on a number of occasions. One was pretty robust: I was cross after horrid, vicious sexism towards me from his supporters. One time was after the exit poll and was more akin to the kind of text message that you send your mate who just snogged the fittest boy at a party. The rest of the time it was with genuine advice and guidance ahead of the debates or appearances. I told him what I was hearing on the streets and what might and might not work. To this, he responds well.

This is how I think the party must go forward. We must be robust when we think we are getting stuff wrong, elated and celebratory when we are getting things right, and honest and helpful when we think we can be.

I have not always behaved well. I can admit that. I get things wrong, I learn. The most important thing for everybody to remember is that the hung parliament tells us we all got it wrong. So let’s be grown up enough to admit that, and then we can all just get on with sorting it out.

Jess Phillips is the MP for Birmingham Yardley

This self adulatory twaddle is sublimely decoded in a BTL comment by Andy Platt:

Jess Philips writes,

“The ability to start an article with a trite truism is a powerful one. I teach my children this so I can then mention them in comment pieces in order to imply extra moral authority for the garbage I’m peddling. This was clearly not a lesson learned by Theresa May; using trite truisms gives you that woman of the people aura which I obviously have and she doesn’t.

Politicians all act like they’re somehow invincible, except me of course. I know that writing an article with words like ‘humble pie’ and ‘mea culpa’ makes it look like I listen to people and accept my own fallibility, rather than being a shouty old windbag who clearly called it wrong from day one. Let me just mention my children again, alluding to some cute little domestic mishap to remind you that I’m a parent and therefore a better, more important person than you.

I have talked to Jeremy on a couple of occasions. I tell him what the word on the street is. Cos I know the street me, I’m street tough, a bit gangsta, I tell it like it is, know worri mean? He responds to this well, I like to imagine. I’ve never stuck around long enough to hear what he says.

The next couple of paragraphs will be tricky; I have to somehow rationalise being utterly wrong about Jeremy Corbyn with still being all sensible and correct now that the dust has settled. I’ll do that by implying that lots of other Labour MPs will simply follow Corbyn like little poodles, unlike sensible independent me (can one of the interns insert another mention of my kids here, you know the sort of shit people fall for). Another group will still remain a thorn in his side, blindly rejecting the positives, not dissimilar to the group Corbyn was part of in the Blair years, in a completely different way that I’ve blindly rejected Corbyn and his team’s positives obv. I know that Corbyn turned out to be right in the end but personally, I really don’t think that’s the point, do you?

For example, my slagging off of Corbyn was entirely personal, whereas Corbyn disagreed with Blair on policy. I can learn from that. I just need to learn some policy first, rather than say, being completely deluded about the influence I’ve had over Labour’s response to welfare reform when Kate Green did all the heavy lifting. I’ll just end this by only admitting I got anything wrong in the sense that absolutely everybody else got it wrong too, even though that’s clearly bollocks. So come on Jeremy, let’s all grow up and you can give me a job.”

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