At least once every week, the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips, says something that would end the career of a Conservative, or of a Corbyn supporter, or of a man, or of anyone who was not Jess Phillips.
Phillips supports the present Israeli Government. She has accused British Pakistanis of importing wives for their disabled sons. Her position on abortion, whatever one may think of that issue, is effectively a call for the full legal integration of Northern Ireland into Great Britain. She is rude and abusive towards Britain’s most prominent black politician, Diane Abbott. Or at least she claims to be; it is possible that she has built her reputation on lying about having used gutter language towards a woman who was old enough to be her mother.
Phillips laughs at male suicides, at male cancers, at other men’s health issues, at violence against men, at problems in boys’ educational attainment, and at fathers denied access to their children. She has expressed the desire to stab Jeremy Corbyn. And she has said on Question Time that attacks of the kind seen in Cologne, “happen every week in Birmingham.”
Phillips is a beneficiary of the all-women shortlist system that has done more than anything else to turn the Parliamentary Labour Party from 50 per cent Broad Left 25 years ago to 85 per cent Hard Right today. Corbyn’s very highly politicised following is largely young and male because it is motivated by rage against the effects of deindustrialisation and against the harvesting of young men in endless, pointless wars.
But the economic changes of the last 40 years have turned into the ruling class the public sector middle-class women who dominate the PLP, while the wars of the last 20 years have barely affected them, having largely been waged for explicitly feminist reasons, albeit to no good effect for the women of Afghanistan, and to catastrophic effect for the women of Iraq and Libya. To Phillips and her ilk, who are Thatcher’s Daughters, the anger of the young men who are accruing to Corbyn is incomprehensible. As is those young men’s closely connected discovery for themselves of the various schools of heterodox economics, and of the traditional Great Books that, for ostensibly if questionably feminist reasons, have been excluded from school and university curricula.
As she herself would doubtless agree, Phillips could not contrast more starkly with George Galloway. Galloway’s is one of the two or three most important pro-Palestinian voices in the West, while he fully acknowledges that some people are now fourth generation Israeli, so that there is no point in telling anyone to “go home” when they are already at home. He holds Pakistan’s highest awards, the Hilal-i-Qaid-i-Azzam and the Hilali-i-Pakistan, for his work for Pakistan and Kashmir. He is half-Irish, with a profound and lifelong interest in Irish affairs.
He has been campaigning across the full range of health, workers’ rights, educational, and other social justice issues since 1967, 14 years before Phillips was born. He tabled the only ever parliamentary motion in support of fathers’ access to their children and against the secrecy of the family courts. He is a lifelong opponent of racism, and a longstanding friend of Diane Abbott’s. He has never expressed the desire to stab anyone, and he has never insulted the City of Birmingham.
Consider the recent attack on a Syrian boy in Huddersfield. That that footage went viral, such that someone has now been charged, was initially thanks to a tweet by Galloway. Yet the Today programme accused him of “politicising” the incident. Had it not been for him, then the BBC would never have known about it. This is typical of how he has long been treated. Oona King was given a peerage for no reason except that she had lost her seat to Galloway.
Just as I was the only person with anything like the status of a commentator to predict a hung Parliament in 2017, so I was the only such person to predict that Galloway would win the by-election at Bradford West at 2012. According to everyone else, if they mentioned him at all, then he would lose his deposit. But in fact he topped the poll in every ward, including those which were more than 90 per cent white.
On his return to the Commons, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, called him by his name on the floor of the House, instead of recognising him as an Honourable Member. In 2015, UKIP and the Green Party, each of which had one MP, were permitted to participate in the General Election debates, but Respect, which also had one MP, was not. Guess who Respect’s one MP was.
In 2016, what can now be seen to have been his highly prescient campaign for Mayor of London was subjected to a media blackout comparable to that of the No2EU lists at successive European Elections. Most shockingly of all, the serious attempt on his life in 2014 is little known to the public, and much mocked within the elite.
George Galloway MP would provide a focal point for those who were broadly supportive of Corbyn but nevertheless critical of him. Corbyn’s housing and transport policies go nowhere near far enough. He supports the Government’s indulgence of the ludicrous theory of gender self-identification. He sides with neoliberal capitalism on the issues of drugs and prostitution. He has hinted at support for the Customs Union, which, in a crowded field, has a reasonable claim to be the worst of all the many bad things about the EU. He has accepted some of the Government’s baseless and collapsed claims about Salisbury, Amesbury, and Douma.
He has acted against the social and ethnic cleansing of Labour Haringey, but not to secure justice for the 472 Teaching Assistants in Labour Durham. He met the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the “Jewish Leadership Council” without having waited for the local election results in London to establish whether or not they spoke for anyone very much at all.
He has failed to prevent the Labour Party from suspending or expelling distinguished Jewish activists for purported anti-Semitism. He has failed to prevent the importation of the New York practice of branding as anti-Semitic any uppity black activist who challenged the Liberal Establishment. Unlike Corbyn, Galloway understands the need to control immigration in order to protect jobs, workers’ rights, and public services. Unlike at least this Corbyn, Galloway is critical of much of the anti-industrial policy response to climate change.
Only Roy Jenkins has ever been an MP for all three of Britain’s largest cities of London, Birmingham and Glasgow. Much of his Stechford constituency is now in Yardley. But Jenkins did eventually lose his seat of Glasgow Hillhead to Galloway, who has now been both a London MP and a Glasgow MP, as well as a Bradford one. With its close ties to Ireland, to the Islamic world in general, and to Pakistan in particular, Birmingham is a city made for Galloway.
His triumph at Bradford West was the greatest ever victory, in the world, over the baradari system by which caste, thoroughly un-Islamic though it is, has been kept going for many centuries in Pakistan and among Indian Muslims. That perpetuation lies at the root of the case of Asia Bibi, while the present British Government has relegalised the caste discrimination that the last Labour Government, for all its many faults, had outlawed. Add to all of this the fact that the West Midlands recorded the highest vote of any English region to Leave the EU.
Jess Phillips has got to go, and George Galloway needs to be the next MP for Birmingham Yardley. It is time for George versus the Dragon. We all know who won that one.