Interview with Jess Phillips (Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley)

At the General Election 2015, Jess Phillips became the newly elected MP for Birmingham Yardley- winning the seat from the Lib Dems. I was able to ask her some questions including becoming one of the youngest MPs and her opinion on the Labour leadership election.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Very important, involvement in politics gives you power. If we look at all the policy assaults against people aged 18-25 such as housing benefit changes, lower wages, cuts in FE and university fees. It is clear that the government do not fear young people’s views. If more MPs, voters and activists were young I am sure it wouldn’t happen.”

  • How did it feel to become one of the youngest MPs aged 33?

“Delighted. I don’t feel that young compared to some of my colleagues, also as I had my children when I was young I forget I am quite young sometimes. I think the young people in Parliament make it much more representative and offer a different and needed perspective.”

  • How did it feel to gain your seat from the Lib Dems?

“Really pleased. I think that a combination of a good campaign and a disgust in a party who seemed to give up their principles for power meant I was successful. I don’t buy in to the fact that they made the Tories better, especially my opponent.”

  • Who are you backing for Labour leadership and why?

“Yvette Cooper. I think she has the strength and experience to win. She also has a real track record of changing things for people. I benefitted from policies she was in charge of, like Sure Start Centres when my kids were born. I think thinking things is all well and good, but it is action that changes things.”

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“It’s hardly a laugh a minute, although the campaign trail throws up some good anecdotes. I knocked on a door once, a man answered naked and told me what he was in the middle of doing. Why oh why did he answer the door?”

Jess Phillips

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