Jess Phillips Calls Tory Philip Davies 'Very Basic' During Live TV Debate On Equality

Labour MP Jess Phillips and Tory Philip Davies had a, feisty, exchange of views on equality during a joint interview on the BBC's Daily Politics on Monday afternoon.

During the row, Phillips dismissed Davies as "very basic", while Davies said gay marriage was "nothing to do with equality".

The pair have been caught up in a row over whether or not MPs should devote time to debating International Men's Day.

Phillips has said she strongly supports action to tackle issues affecting men, including male suicide, but does not see the need for a special debate.

However Davies has said it is not fair that MPs have a debate to mark International Women's Day but not one to debate International Men's Day.

Philips and Davies are not the best of friends

Phillips told Davies today that he was making a "mealy mouthed" bid for a debate out of a false sense of what equality was. She also said he had "failed to fill in the form correctly" to secure the debate in the first place. Something he denied.

"I always vote in favour of true equality," Davies hit back, before appearing to criticise her for having been selected as a Labour candidate via an all women's shortlist.

But Phillips questioned his commitment to equality. "Did you vote for gay marriage?" she asked. He did not.

Davies said: "I don't agree with gay marriage, why would I vote for something I don't agree with? That Bill has nothing to do with equality."

He argued it was unfair that gay people could get married or have a civil partnership, whereas heterosexual people could not have a civil partnership. "It's not equality," he said. "Jess has a strange view of quality that the groups she supports should have more equality than other people."

Phillips hit back: "You have a very basic view of equality."

Philips was subject to online abuse, including rape threats, after she objected to Davies' idea of holding a parliamentary debate on International Men’s Day. "It seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day," she told the Tory MP at the time.

Writing for The Huffington Post today, Phillips said: "I am miserable because I let my self down. My flippancy and palpable anger in the face of Phil Davies MP has been grossly misrepresented, that I don't care about issues that affect men."

Phillips said she had family experience of mental health. "I remember asking my Grandad, who lived with me all my life until his death, what the marks on his wrists were when I was about 10. He told me he was sad, but it would be ok," she wrote.

"You see, bipolar is hereditary. So when people send me emails saying they hope I come home to find my sons hanging, they are not saying anything I haven't already considered."

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HuffPost UK is partnering with Southbank Centre’s Being A Man Festival, taking place 27 - 29 November. It will focus on lighthearted, serious and challenging issues facing boys and men in the 21st century. There will be talks and debates, concerts, performances, comedy and workshops with contributions from over 200 speakers and performers, including Akala, Frankie Boyle, David Baddiel and Kellie Maloney. Day passes are £15, 3-day passes are £35. For more information, visit the website or call 0844 847 9944.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41

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