Poloticians with “plumby” accents are squeezing out working class MPs from Parliament, a leading North councillor has warned.
George Dunning, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said “career politicians” with “silver tongues” are being parachuted in ahead of real people in the corridors of power.
Coun Dunning, who worked in the Teesside steel industry for more than 30 years, said he was recently interviewed by a Labour panel of councillors who struggled to understand what he was saying.
“I don’t talk with plumbs in my mouth because I was born and raised as part of a working-class Teesside family,” he said.
“The Labour panel said I tended to raise my voice during debate and this made me difficult to understand.
“Obviously these people didn’t know I spent 30 years or more working in steel and 10 of those with no hearing protection.
“What annoys a lot of us, is, although we are a diminishing breed in steel, chemical and manufacturing, we are still around and we should have adequate representation in Parliament.
“I think it’s a kick in the teeth when members of your own political party struggle to understand why you talk the way you do.
“We’re working people with working-class backgrounds.
“Let’s see more real people in Parliament and not just the increasing breed of career politicians.”
The Teesside council leader is not alone in raising the issue of accent.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who was born and raised in Ashington, accused Parliament of being hostile to working-class northerners.
He said: “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.”
> Mind you, you know what they say about the Ashington accent…
A woman goes into a hairdressers in Ashington and says “give me a perm.”
“Ok“, replies the hairdresser, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
His Labour colleague, Pat Glass, who represents North West Durham, last year gave her take on the culture within Westminster.
“If they spot a northern accent they start shouting about it to put you off,” she said.
Coun Dunning backed Mr Lavery’s words and credited the Northumberland MP as one of the few “real” working-class politicians in the Houses of Parliament.
“Ian Lavery’s comments hit where it hurts,” said Coun Dunning. “That being the elite class of MPs at Westminster feeling Ian’s blunt words. Then the truth always does, especially when stressing the lack of real people in Parliament.”
Source – Sunday Sun, 11 Jan 2015
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
> Sure sign that there’s an election just over the horizon – out they come, offering bribes like the sleazy fixers they are…
A former Tory candidate in the North East is leading calls for the party to increase the minimum wage – to give it a chance of winning seats in Labour heartlands.
The campaign urging Chancellor George Osborne to increase the minimum wage has been launched by Renewal, a campaign group dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Conservative Party and giving it a chance of winning seats in regions such as the North East where the party has very few MPs.
Mr Osborne yesterday hinted that a rise from the current £6.31 an hour to £7 was indeed in the offing.
Renewal director David Skelton finished a distant second when he stood for the Labourstronghold of North Durham in the 2010 general election.
Renewal has launched a review called “Renewing Capitalism”, which will look at new ways to create a competitive economic environment in which the consumer and the low-paid are protected, competition is cherished and anti-competitive, monopolistic behaviour is cracked down on.
It will also explore ideas to create wealth in parts of the country that have been struggling to share in prosperity since the 1980s – notably deindustrialised towns in northern England.
> Yeah… might have been better if the Tories hadn’t wrecked the north in the first place perhaps ? Might be good if they weren’t cutting funding left, right & centre.
Renewal is also considering ways of changing the face of the Conservative Party by bringing in more working class MPs, including by introducing bursaries to help people on lower incomes stand for election.
> This is a wind-up, isn’t it ? Its certainly not the Conservative party.
Mr Skelton, who was born and grew up in Consett, County Durham, said:
“The Conservative Party needs to come to terms with the fact that many people, particularly the low paid, don’t think that capitalism is working for them.
“We need to do more to show that capitalism can work for everybody in every part of the country. Being pro-market isn’t the same as being pro-big business.
“Where there are instances of abuse – in either the public or the private sector – Conservatives should come down hard to protect the consumer.”
> I think we know perfectly well what capitalism is likely to do for – and do to – us.
The review could be seen as a response to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s focus on the cost of living and attack on “predatory” capitalism. Labour is arguing that the benefits of economic recovery are not being shared by most people – and is highlighting the fact workers in the North East on average are paid £1,300 a year less than they were in 2010, once inflation is taken into account.
Some Conservatives argue that putting up the minimum wage, currently £6.31 an hour for over-21s, would help ensure that working people enjoy an increase in their standard of living as the economy improves.
> Yes, but it doesn’t create new jobs, so those in work earn a few more pennies, but the high unemployment continues, and those on benefits will continue to be the scapegoats for a situation they had no hand in.
Speaking recently, Hexham MP Guy Opperman said: “I am a well known exponent of the voluntary living wage and am very keen for an enhancement of the minimum wage now that the economic conditions are beginning to ease.
“There is an ongoing campaign to see if the Chancellor is able to make such a change when we get to the Budget in March.”
Recommendations about minimum wage rate are made by the Low Pay Commission, an independent body set up by the Government.
Mr Osborne has said he will not increase the minimum wage if it will lead to job losses but there is speculation he could announce a simultaneous cut in taxes paid by employers such as National Insurance, allowing them to pay staff more while staying in profit.
> The cut in NI contributions makes sense in the light of current policy, which seems intent on making it impossible for anyone to actually claim benefits anyway.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 17 Jan 2014