The shadow domestic violence minister was addressing claims that it was “too woke” for M&S to change Midget Gems to Mini Gems after the original name was described as offensive in an academic’s campaign.
She said: “You wouldn’t have a chocolate bar which had racist slurs written on them. You just wouldn’t.
″And you wouldn’t have ‘Bitch Smarties’ and think that is acceptable anymore.
“It doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Well, it actually turns out Bitch Smarties is quite a popular name on Twitter...
Phillips did also explain that companies should strive to be more inclusive now.
“You have to be really really careful when these things happen,” the Labour MP explained.
“That it happens because apparently loads of people have been really annoyed about it – often that is manufactured and that’s not been seen.
“Loads of people won’t be annoyed about it being changed.”
She added: “In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t hurt me in any way, or upset me.”
She compared it to the conversations around removing statues of problematic people this week, and said it was best to focus on real people experiencing abuse now – and look into the “stone people” when the initial problem was sorted.
Phillips continued: “Eat whatever sweets, call them whatever you like.
“Have your advertising campaign if it grabs people for a certain reason, but fundamentally just try to be as nice as you possibly can be, and include as many people as you possibly can, but try not to worry about these things quite so much.
The debate was prompted by this question: “Has wokeness got out of control as a well-known supermarket has announced the changing name of classic sweets?”
M&S changed the name of Midget Gems to avoid offending people with dwarfism after a lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University with a condition which stunts growth, Dr Erin Pritchard, set up a campaign.
She wrote in the Big Issue North: “Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word midge, meaning gnat or sandfly.
“Its origin automatically dehumanises people like me. It was a term popularised during the Victorian freak show, where many disabled people, including people with dwarfism, were oppressed and exploited.’”
An M&S spokesperson said the store was “committed to being an inclusive retailer” and Tesco is now reviewing the name of its product.