Let's have diversity of accents

I have always maintained that one of the greatest strengths of the UK can be found in the diversity of its town and cities, not to mention its nations and its regions.

Wednesday, 19th July 2017, 8:12 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:45 pm

One can travel less than 20 minutes between some towns and notice real differences in both the places and people, the most noticeable of which is the way folk sound.

Although no expert on linguistics, I cannot imagine there’s another nation on earth where the inhabitants’ accents are as varied as they are here.

Surely nothing compares with the huge differences that there are between, say, Cornish and Scouse.

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But with this wonderful diversity comes old fashioned prejudices, with some believing that a heavy regional burr is a sign you are a pie short of a butty box. Just ask Angela Rayner.

Angela is the shadow education secretary, previously tipped by some as a future Labour Party leader, once Jeremy Corbyn decides to hang up his beige jacket for good. Since she found herself thrust under the national spotlight a year or so ago, she has emerged as one of her party’s most effective media performers which means she has come in for some stick from lunatics on social media. Last week the forthright former union official spoke out against those who call her thick, an accusation which appears to be down to her Stockport accent. Speaking as a fellow Stopfordian, I can honestly say she isn’t thick – it is just how the majority of us northerners talk. In some cases we hold down full-time jobs and have even been known to own our homes. Living down south, I know how Mrs Rayner feels.

While I rarely agree with much she says, I do think we need more Angela Rayners at the top of British politics as we have become obsessed with being represented by polished performers, who offer little else. Who says our leaders are not allowed to sound as though they should be propping up the bar at the Rovers Return, especially if that is precisely how their constituents sound? What our divided nation now really needs is leaders with real empathy, even if it means that we end up with a Jack or Vera Duckworth soundalike moving into Number 10.