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30Jul

Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics by Jess Phillips review – the case for change

The outspoken MP is on a one-woman campaign to banish jargon, snobbery and tradition and make sure politics is for everyone

“Believe me,” writes Jess Phillips in Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics; My Life As an MP, “if you think you don’t belong in Parliament or in political life because you have never made a rousing speech or are crap at public speaking then you are wrong – you would be in good company in politics.” It’s not so much that the outspoken MP is disillusioned with Westminster. She’s enamoured of everything about the place, from the cornicing to the 90% of MPs who “genuinely want to make the world a better place”. That’s often the figure people use to make this point, that however self-serving politics looks, its participants are generally motivated by public duty. I would be interested to see the field work.

No, Phillips is not disappointed so much as indignant – on a one-woman campaign to strike out the mystique of politics, which is rooted variously in snobbery, the complications and jargon of process and tradition and the overall Hogwartsiness of the place. The debate is often not that erudite, and the number of truly great orators on the green benches is vanishingly small. I think she’s right, and furthermore, she herself is one of them. Yet both as a politician, and here as part-explainer, part-memoirist, she is peculiarly resistant to big ideas.

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