What's the political price of honesty?

Jess Phillips Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jess Phillips has said Labour must "tell the truth" to win back voters

Someone wise, or at least successful, once said: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

That immortal advice has been variously attributed to the great Groucho Marx, to the 1940s US comedian George Burns, to the French diplomat and writer Jean Giraudoux but never - ever - to the Labour MP and leadership contender Jess Phillips.

Speaking to me on my BBC 5 live programme Pienaar's Politics, the Birmingham Yardley MP seemed wholly unscripted.

She seemed wary of upsetting party members, but still managed, I'm guessing, to upset and perhaps infuriate thousands of them.

In an age of cynicism and spin, Jess Phillips was authentic and frank in a way which illustrated perfectly why she seems to have little or no chance of becoming Labour's next leader.

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The tough questions facing the UK and US

Ben Wallace Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Defence Secretary Ben Wallace publicly aired his view on US/UK cooperation in the Sunday Times

Suddenly, the government and opposition are preoccupied with the head-achingly existential questions: "What are we here for? And where are we going?"

These are tough questions to be sure, which probably explains why, on both sides, there's a natural inclination to bring them up and then rapidly change the subject.

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Are we witnessing the birth of Johnsonism?

Boris Johnson Image copyright UKParliament

"Getting Brexit done" turned out to be a useful slogan, and no doubt it helped Boris Johnson win the election.

But almost nothing in politics is truly simple - least of all Brexit.

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General election 2019: Let the Labour leadership battle commence

Labour rosette Image copyright EPA

Brave infantrymen in the muddy trenches of the Great War would hurl themselves onto the barbed wire to allow their comrades to march over their backs and advance towards the guns of the enemy.

Can you imagine doing that? No, me neither.

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General election 2019: A matter of mistrust?

Pork pie Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Are pork pies more common than humble pie in modern politics?

Do party leaders and politicians - British ones, mind you, not just dodgy foreigners - ever lie?

Well, you could perhaps duck the question and argue that our political leaders sometimes distort the truth.

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PM distancing himself from years of Tory rule

Boris Johnson on the BBC's Andrew Marr show Image copyright Jeff Overs/BBC
Image caption Boris Johnson told the BBC's Andrew Marr his government has a "different approach" to previous Tory administrations

After 10 years of Conservative rule blighted by austerity and Brexit-weariness, it takes an almost breathtaking audacity - hostile critics might say the brassiest neck in the business - to campaign for a fourth consecutive Tory term in office as the face of change.

It takes, in other words, Boris Johnson.

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General election 2019: Flamboyant pledges fight a tide of public distrust

Boris Johnson on a campaign visit in Bedford Image copyright PA Media

Watching Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn do what they both do best - campaigning as if was a performing art - ought to have been a bit of a treat for politics watchers this week.

But it wasn't.

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General election 2019: A campaign unlike any other?

Boris Johnson during a visit to a sweet shop in Blackpool Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The prime minister has had plenty to chew on this week

Labour's latest "retail offer" of free broadband for all showed - if it still needed showing - voters are being handed a choice of rival ideologies as stark as any we've seen since Margaret Thatcher took on Labour's Michael Foot in 1983.

Younger voters may imagine this is what normal politics looks like. It isn't. Or at least, it wasn't.

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General election 2019: Leaders worried trust is at stake

Westminster fire 1834 Image copyright Getty Images

There's nothing new about politicians trying to please the crowd, or people lacking faith in politicians.

Back in 1834, when Westminster caught fire, a large crowd turned out to cheer on the fire.

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Brexit: Will Theresa May be a backseat driver?

Theresa May Image copyright Reuters

Theresa May arrived in Osaka something of a leader in limbo - an outgoing prime minister beset by incoming crises at home and abroad.

So far she's been conspicuously trying to stay above the fray of the Tory leadership contest.

Read full article Brexit: Will Theresa May be a backseat driver?