Bridget Philipson has urged the UK’s strictest headteacher, Katherine Birbalsingh, to launch a complaint with the Labour Party after she accused Jess Phillips of racism.
While the Shadow Secretary of State for Education denied that Jess Phillips is racist, she said that “anyone who feels unhappy about the conduct of a Labour MP” should file a complaint so that “matter can be looked into”.
Earlier this week, the founder and headmistress of Michaela Community free school in London, Ms Birbalsingh, posted an open letter to Sir Keir Starmer in which she made a number of claims about the Midlands MP.
She accused Ms Phillips of “racist and bullying behaviour”, claiming that her “extreme and unprompted hostility” is “motivated by my race”.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge about the issue, Ms Philipson said: “My reaction is that anyone who feels unhappy about the conduct of a labour MP is that they should complain to our process and then the matter can be looked into.”
She continued: “As members of parliament we are also subject to a code of conduct in parliament and there are processes in place for people who are unhappy with an MP’s behaviour they can report that.
“I would suggest that to any individual who is unhappy about the conduct of a member of parliament.”
Ms Ridge followed up: “So you think its right for her to put in an official complaint about this?”
The Shadow Secretary of State for Education responded: “I think its right that anyone who is unhappy about the conduct of an MP in any way should make their concerns known and then they can be properly considered.”
But when asked if she thinks Ms Phillips is racist, Ms Philipson said no.
The row began in May following the death of pop legend Tina Turner. Ms Birbalsingh, who recently spoke at the National Conservatism conference, described the singer as “an iconic black voice of the 1980s” and posted a gif consisting of “different clips from her life” with the caption “good times”.
But the teacher faced backlash as the post featured a picture of her with Ike Turner, Tina’s abusive ex-husband.
Ms Phillips shared the tweet, which she later deleted, and wrote: “Hold the line! Stay with me! Domestic abuse is never ok and we will defeat those who prop up the status quo. I repeat Hold the line! Stay with me! We will win.”
“Hold the line” is a phrase from the 2000 film Gladiator and also featured in Ms Birbalsingh’s National Conservatism conference speech.
In a follow up tweet, Ms Birbalsingh said that she did not condone domestic violence, to which Ms Phillips, who is the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, replied “sure” and used a “sarcastic” gif, according to the headteacher.
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Ms Birbalsingh claimed she has suffered a “deluge of Twitter abuse” in the wake of the row and says parents have contacted the school to demand her dismissal.
In the open letter to Sir Keir, the teacher wrote: “I want to bring to your attention what I believe to be racist and bullying behaviour from one of your Shadow team.
“She inspired a vicious mob attack against me on Twitter on the evening of May 24, 2023, and called into question my school’s safeguarding policies in a deliberate attempt to challenge my competence as Headteacher.”
She continued: “My view is that Ms Phillips’ extreme and unprompted hostility towards me is motivated by my race. By this I do not mean that she hates all people of colour. Her behaviour is a clear example of ‘unconscious bias’.
“I mean that she hates me, despite not knowing me, because she subscribes to the idea that Black and Asian individuals in public life owe a duty to voice opinions that match with a left-wing view of the world, or they are worthy of her contempt.”
Ms Birbalsingh said she was in the process of submitting a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner about Ms Phillips’ tweets, claiming they contravened of the Code of Conduct.
The head wrote: “Allow me to be candid: how dare she?
“How dare she possibly tell me after 25 years of working in schools, with the people I have known, in the inner-city areas I have worked, that I am an advocate of domestic abuse.”
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