Jeremy Corbyn’s first PLP meeting as the leader of the Labour party got off to a shaky start as MPs failed to applaud him. Happily, the attention was soon taken away from him, as a row erupted between his shadow international development minister and a Labour backbencher.
Diane Abbott attempted to scold the newbie Labour MP Jess Phillips for asking a ‘sanctimonious’ question about why all the top four shadow cabinet jobs had gone to men. With Phillips telling Abbott to ‘f— off’, Corbyn has since been criticised for not stepping in to stop the argument. Today’s Times suggests that Corbyn’s romantic fling with Abbott back in the 70s could have played a factor in his decision.
However, Phillips says that ‘it was nothing to do with the fact they were lovers’ that Corbyn failed to come to her aid; ‘He probably knows what she’s like and thought there’s little point’. In an interview with the Huffington Post, the Labour MP says she was only saying what a lot of her colleagues had wished they had said to Abbott many times. She adds that the opportunity to tell Abbott to ‘f— off’ ‘presents itself every other minute’.
‘People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute. I said: “Who the f— do you think you are?”‘
Although Phillips has now extended an olive branch to Corbyn with a blog entitled ‘being human’, after this outburst Mr S can’t see her getting promoted while Abbott is still on the scene.