‘Westminster elite’ look down on people with North East accents, Wansbeck’s Labour MP claims

A “Westminster elite” of Labour MPs look down on people with Northern accents, a politician from the region has claimed.

Wansbeck’s Ian Lavery, himself a Labour MP, said that when MPs hear his North East accent they think “that man doesn’t know too much” and claimed his party has too many politicians who haven’t worked “on the factory floor”.

But he today claimed the remarks were not a criticism of party leader Ed Miliband – saying they were about getting more working-class MPs into Parliament.

The Northumberland MP was recorded making the remarks at a conference on social mobility in London organised by the think-tank Class.

I’ve got to say there are some superb Labour Party MPs,” he was reported to have said.

Sadly, there’s not enough MPs who’ve actually worked on the coalface, on the factory floor.

“We haven’t got enough ethnic minorities, we haven’t got enough disabled people in, who have actually been there.

“We’ve got an elite in Westminster which, quite frankly, frightens me.

“They haven’t been anywhere or done anything, and when you’ve got an accent like mine, they think ‘Well, that man doesn’t know too much’.”

Mr Lavery, a former president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said some national media had “willfully misrepresented what I said” and stressed that he fully supports Mr Miliband as his party’s leader.

He said:

“My comments were about the need for more working-class MPs and in no way a criticism of Ed or his office.

“For the record, I believe s absolutely the right man to bring in policies that will be of great benefit to people in the North and across the country.”

It comes after former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared to criticise Labour leader Mr Miliband.

The ex-Sedgefield MP told The Economist that May’s General Election was shaping up to be one “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”.

> Sounds good – remind me, which is the left-wing party ?

Asked if he was implying that the Conservatives would win, Mr Blair is reported to have said yes.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 Jan 2015

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