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.
“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
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has hit back at the “boring Tory boys” after they mocked her North-East accent.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said that Conservative party members who are claimed to have mocked her accent don’t bother her – because it means they have nothing else to criticise her for.
The town’s MP also welcomed the support she received from constituents over the row which has broken out over claims by Durham North West MP Pat Glass, that Tory MPs target female opposition members.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “It is annoying sometimes, but I never let it silence me. I just think ‘grow up’.
“I feel sorry for them really, because I think if that’s all you have to say about me, then I must be doing a good job.”
Fellow Labour MP Mrs Glass said that abuse in the “Gladatorial” atmosphere at Westminster is worse for female MPs with strong accents, and likened Mrs Lewell-Buck’s to that of fellow South Shields native, comedian Sarah Millican.
She said: “I know Emma has a lovely strong accent, but they have really gone for her in the chamber over that,” she said.
“She has that Sarah Millican accent and they shout at her because of it.
“There are big differences between my accent and hers, but generally, if you are a woman, they target you and if you have a northern accent, they go for you.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, who grew up in a family of shipyard workers, and was a social worker before gaining her seat in Parliament, said: “I want my constituents to hear and see someone who looks and sounds like them.
“I want them to understand what I am saying, because I am in House representing them.
“I don’t care if the posh boys in the Tory party don’t understand me.
“They do, sometimes, get themselves over-excited and shout things, but I just think it’s not like they’re going to launch themselves across the commons and punch me.”
She added: “I’ve always said that to be an effective MP you have to talk to your constituents, that’s a huge part of the job.
“I’m always out and about talking to them, and use the information they give me when I’m in the House of Commons representing them.
“For me, the most nerve-wracking thing is that people put me there, and I don’t ever want people to think that they put me there and I have let them down.”
Mrs Glass said it was not just older Tory MPs who were guilty of barracking Labour women.
She said: “What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.
“You don’t get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.
“I get the impression they think women who are Northerners should not be there.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, added: “It doesn’t really surprise me that people in South Shields have been supportive about my accent.
“So far, I haven’t had anyone say ‘you have let us down,’ or ‘we didn’t like what you said’.
“In the main, a lot of people have been really supportive.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Feb 2014