THE BLOG

Speaking Literally

12/15/2015 10:01 am 10:01:39 | Updated 15 December 2015

Just so we can get the record straight, and by that I don't mean literally getting a record and unbending it, so let's start again.

I want to be clear and transparent, by which I of course do not mean that I wish literally for people to be able to see through me... let's try again.

I want to spell out, I (space ) D I D (space) N O T (space) T H R E A T E N (space) T O (space) K I L L (space) J E R E M Y (space) C O R B Y N (stop).

Did you get the message? And by that I of course don't mean I have actually sent you a personal message. I meant did you get the point of what I was saying. Not an actual point, like a pointy object, the other sort of point. I fear this will be terribly laboured so I'll stop pointing out all the language one could misconstrue, perhaps I'll just italicise it.

I found myself to be trending on Twitter. I like to be trendy, although I know that the use of the word trendy immediately stops you being so. When interviewed by Owen Jones this week, I spoke my mind. I gave honest answers to the questions I was asked. I did not trot out some prepared line and make the interview about what I wanted it to be about. I did not answer every question, regardless, with "did you know Owen, I am very focused at the moment on trying to get a better deal for domestic violence victims and fighting for children's safety." When he asked me why I got involved with politics, I didn't reply; "Well thanks for asking, my local road safety campaign in Yardley has been forcing through changes that will keep local children safer on the road."

Lots of politicians do this, they answer the question they wanted to hear. I'm not good at that, I speak like I would to my friends, my family and my constituents, who, I have to say, want to talk to me like a human. So Owen wanted to ask me about my feelings about Jeremy Corbyn. So I told the truth. My bad.

In telling the truth I used a well-used metaphor about stabbing someone in the back. In which I said I would NOT stab him in the back. Incidentally, what I was actually saying was that I will try to help him be electable. I will do whatever I can to do that, but I won't sit back and just allow an echo chamber to only praise him, nor will I ignore poll ratings and what I hear on the streets in my constituency. That helps no one.

There are too very deep ironies in the reaction. The first is that in the interview I was talking about how the leadership team should avoid own goals, clearly walking right in to one myself. My bad. In my defence, I don't have teams of people around me running over every word I say, I don't have four or five staff members whose whole job it is to think about what I say. Just little old me. Like I said, my bad. Lesson learned. Move on.

The second hilarious irony is that all those people who slag off the media for misrepresenting Jeremy were dutifully ready to clutch their pearls in mock horror when I fell prey to clickbait headlines. Be annoyed with the fact that that's the way the world works if you've got nothing better to do, but be consistently annoyed please. Don't just see the thing that suits your agenda and flip-flop your own rage to make a point.

I will learn many lessons in my time being a public representative. Perhaps now I will deliver my lines better, stop using metaphors, communicate more clearly, all that jazz. Perhaps me and Jezza can go on joint communications training. We could do it together, because contrary to popular belief he is not cowering in a corner expecting me to pounce at any moment. Usually when I see him he gives me a hug. Yes, me - a Blairite, murderous, neoliberal, Red Tory, feminazi witch.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it... metaphorically speaking.

Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

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