POLITICS
03/01/2020 19:00 GMT

Jess Phillips Launches Labour Leadership Bid Warning Party Not To 'Play It Safe'

Birmingham MP appears to take aim at Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey, warning "more of the same" will lead to another election defeat.

Jess Phillips warned Labour it would lose the next election if it “plays it safe” in selecting a new leader as she launched her campaign to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

In an apparent shot at shadow cabinet members Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey, Phillips called for a “different kind of leader” to restore trust in the party.

Phillips is trailing in third place behind frontrunner Starmer and second placed Long Bailey, seen as the “continuity Corbyn” candidate, according to a YouGov poll of Labour members.

Launching her campaign with a video focusing on her grassroots work in her hometown Birmingham, Phillips promised to be “honest”, “clear” and “straightforward” with voters.

The Birmingham Yardley MP highlighted the party’s Brexit policy, partly developed by Starmer as shadow Brexit secretary, as evidence that “trying to please everyone usually means we have pleased no one”.

“We have got to be brave and bold and bring people with us, not try and look all ways,” she said in a statement.

“Now is not the time to be meek.

“Boris Johnson needs to be challenged, with passion, heart and precision. We can beat him. We need to speak to people’s hearts, and people need to believe we really mean it when we do. 

“Now is not the time to play it safe. 

“What I’ve heard so far in this debate is totally inadequate to the scale of the problem. Voters have changed. 

“The electoral map has been transformed. 

“Communication in a social media age is different. 

“We need to recognise that politics has changed in a fundamental way by electing a different kind of leader. 

“More of the same will lead to more of the same result.”

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Phillips, who has been a critic of Corbyn’s leadership, highlighted Labour’s response to the anti-Semitism crisis as evidence that the party has been “afraid to speak the truth”.

“There needs to be honesty in this leadership race,” she said. 

“More important than that, there needs to be honesty with the voters who have turned away from Labour since 2005.

“In each case, the most fundamental point is this: we lost their trust. Only when we are clear and straightforward – inside and outside of the party – will people look again to Labour.

“I travelled around the country during the general election and what I was hearing from our amazing activists was that people don’t trust us anymore. 

“And that’s what I was hearing from voters. 

“They don’t think we are honest and they don’t trust us to be the people who get to make the decisions.”

Phillips will launch her campaign on Saturday in Bury North, the marginal seat Labour lost to the Tories in the December election.

Addressing Labour’s worst election performance since 1935, she said the party needs to pick a leader who “understands how serious this defeat was”.

“We’re a party named after the working class who has lost huge parts of its working class base.

“Unless we address that, we are in big trouble.”