Jess Phillips, elected as MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015, is the kind of politician I feel like I’ve spent my adult life waiting for. Part manifesto, part memoir, ‘Everywoman’ is by turns outrageous, informative, shocking and hilarious; it’s a politics book for people who think they don’t like politicians.
Phillips’ honesty, integrity and passion come through in every page, whether she’s talking about domestic abuse, motherhood or trolling; ‘Everywoman’ sees her juxtaposing her professional experience with her personal life to great and revealing effect, with a style reminiscent of Caitlin Moran, which can’t be a bad thing. In a society where people seem to feel increasingly disenfranchised by their elected representatives, Phillips is that rarest of things: the politician with whom you’d want to go for a drink. Her impassioned rants about maternity rights, positive discrimination and Jeremy Corbyn are engaging as well as persuasive, while, on the other hand, sections devoted to Phillips’ colleague, Jo Cox, or her own experiences of working for a women’s charity are touching and emotive. It’s a book that manages to hit all the right notes, without ever seeming to try too hard to achieve that.
I’ve read quite a lot of books covering this kind of material, but, for me, ‘Everywoman’ is distinct from these because of Phillips’ front-line involvement with the issues she tackles. Where other writers may rail against sexist policy, Phillips is in a position to effect change, which also makes her a convincing voice in advising her readers on how to address the issues that face us. Her loud and proud feminism is the defining feature of ‘Everywoman,’ and, indeed, of her work as an MP, and reading this book gave me hope that, with people like her in charge, my daughter’s future is in safer hands: not least because I only trust people who are very, very funny.
Katy Goodwin-Bates 5/4
Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips
Hutchinson 9781786330772 hbk Feb 2017