BLAISE TAPP: We need more Angela Rayners at the top of British politics

Why should Angela Rayner be derided for her Stockportian accent? Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian
Why should Angela Rayner be derided for her Stockportian accent? Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

There are many things I love about this green and pleasant land, although most of them relate to my stomach and certainly don’t include Love Island or breakfast television.

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

In some parts of the country, 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 I'm no expert on linguistics, I cannot imagine there’s another nation on earth where the inhabitants’ accents are as weird and varied as they are here. To me, all Americans, except the ones with Billy Ray Cyrus mullets who live with mom in a caravan, sound like Bruce Willis, while all Australians are dead ringers for Shane Warne.

Yes, there may well be the odd regional variation in accents in other countries but surely nothing compares with the huge differences that there are between, say, Cornish and scouse.

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

For those of you who are more au fait with the whimsy of Alan Carr than you are with the hard facts of John Humphrys, 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 frightful stick from largely anonymous lunatics on social media.

Last week the forthright former union official spoke out against those who relentlessly call her thick, an accusation which appears to be solely down to her distinctive Stockport accent.

Speaking as a fellow Stockportian, albeit one with an unattractive hybrid accent due to a nomadic life spent traipsing from one suburb to the next, I can honestly say that she isn’t thick — it is just how the vast majority of us northerners talk.

In some cases we hold down full time jobs and have even been known to own our homes. Some really posh northerners even have driveways.

Living down south, I do know how Mrs Rayner feels, as there have been occasions when I have turned up at a job, opened my gob and have been given the clear impression that those I am meeting have mistaken me for the man who has come to clear out their drains.

While I very 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, clipped performers, who offer very little else.

Who says that 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.