Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


5 Comments

Why Jo Cox was the best kind of politician.

I will remember Jo on her boat with a baby and a smile.

We’d been introduced by a mutual friend who used to work in the White House. When I headed back to London after four years living in the States, he said “there’s this fantastic woman you just have to meet”. And so in October 2011 we did – on her lovely vintage houseboat on the Thames. We talked about babies and boats and travelling the world, about being working parents, and about what professional women could do to help others coming up behind them – as she did.

I first reported on politics for the BBC in Westminster back in 1990, and have spoken to dozens and dozens of politicians since in the UK, the US and beyond. I’m always fascinated with what drives them.

With Jo, this was very clear. She was in politics not for what she could be, but for what she could do. She was smart, strategic, lovable – yes, she could have been a cabinet minister or a party leader. But she really was driven to make the world a better place. And to make us behave more decently.

She was passionate but positive. Something else to hold onto in an age of politicians “full of sound and fury”.

“Let’s have a cuppa sometime” she tweeted me last month. Oh if only


1 Comment

America Revisited: the case for Gun Rights

As Americans in the west woke up to the awful news from Florida, I was on my way to the Ben Avery shooting range in the desert north of Phoenix Arizona, to meet three gun enthusiasts – Carol Ruh, president of the Arizona Ladies Shooting Association, her husband Pete Ruh, and the group’s Treasurer Debbie Arnold.  I’m recording a documentary for BBC Radio to air this September. The brief is, “what do Americans really think?”  Continue reading


2 Comments

America Revisited : What happens in Vegas

I  was waiting for an Uber on the Vegas Strip last night, looking up wide-eyed at some of the crazy crowded exuberant neon skyline. From the casinos of Caesar’s Palace to The Mirage to Treasure Island. Next , perfectly framed in the top of a palm tree against a purple sky, was the shining golden name “Trump”, set on top of his shining golden tower. Continue reading


Leave a comment

America Revisited : Leaving LA

Eight years ago, black Americans were talking about pride and history – Barack Obama in the White House. In the last two days, I’ve been hearing stories of frustration and disappointment. Not with him – the people I’ve been talking to in Los Angeles have mostly been his liberal supporters. But with what they think his elevation unleashed in some of their fellow Americans. Continue reading


Leave a comment

America Revisited road trip : LA

When the dawn comes, I’ll be able to see palm trees. That’s jet lag in Los Angeles for you. I’ve surfaced in an eccentric little house in somebody’s back yard – built purely I reckon for the AirBNB economy – eager for daylight and a bike ride down to Venice beach.

The last time I blogged, it was with the confident expectation that Donald Trump would by now be a footnote in American political history. Ha! Now it’s California primary day. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Donald #Trump. Really? My take on the upcoming US elections.

“Unhinged”. 

“Outrageous”. 

“Offensive and outlandish”. 

“A race-baiting xenophobic religious bigot”. 

All Republicans denouncing one – at least in name – of their own.

Donald J Trump is not backing down over his call for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States. Donald J Trump has elbowed his way to the top of the political agenda with two huge assets – money and belligerence. Continue reading


1 Comment

Whose #Detroit is it anyway? a story of #Race and #RealEstate

“This is a kind of self-obsession”.

He is self obsessed.  Annoying.  A thirtysomething Yale graduate drifting through life.  A white outsider who stumbles his way through this claustrophobic drama set in a semi-derelict stretch of Detroit.

But his story is a very good read.

The narrator of “You Don’t Have to Live Like This” is Greg Marnier.  He doesn’t know where he stands between insiders and newcomers, dispossessed and profiteer, above all between black and white.  Mostly, ‘Marny’ doesn’t want those “sides” to exist at all, and the reader has to decide whether he’s simply naive or somehow stoking the tensions as the story builds to its racially charged climax.  Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,399 other followers