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MPs should ditch dialects and ‘speak standard English’ like Nye Bevan says Telegraph columnist

08 Jul 2022 3 minute read
Aneurin Bevan. By Geoff Charles. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales (CC 1.0). Angela Rayner picture by David Woolfall (CC BY 3.0).

MPs should ditch their dialects and “speak standard English” like Aneurin Bevan did, according to a Telegraph columnist.

Allison Pearson, who says she spoke Welsh in her youth before her parents discouraged it, took aim at deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner’s “working-class grammar”, saying that her attitude would “hold back children from poorer backgrounds”.

Angela Rayner, who is from Stockport, had criticised Hansard, the official record of speeches made at Westminster, for correcting her grammar.

In a speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research, a centre-Left think tank, on Monday night Angela Rayner said that she was “sometimes criticised for her blunt way of speaking” she avoids using “politician speak” and prefers to talk naturally in the Commons Chamber.

But Allison Pearson said that while she was glad to hear regional accents, she added that “there is no such thing as working-class grammar, only good or bad grammar. Knowing the difference could change your life. It changed mine.”

“Welsh was my first language, and I spoke it almost exclusively until I was five,” Allison Pearson said.

“Not long ago, when I asked my mum why she stopped speaking to me in my mother tongue, she said, ‘Your father and I didn’t think it would be to your advantage’.

“I’m so glad that today you hear every manner of regional accent spoken by people in senior positions.

“Yet the mastery of good English remains the one great engine of social mobility.

“Rayner presumes to speak for working-class people. But expecting to be exempt from normal rules, be they of speech or manners, on account of her background is insulting and patronising. Many, including my own family, would shudder at her rudeness and think she lacked real class and dignity.”

‘Lethal effect’

Allison Pearson pointed to Aneurin Bevan as someone who spoke perfect English with a regional, in that case valleys, accent.

“He had a bad childhood stammer, which he overcame with the help of – Angela, you’d better sit down, love – an elocution tutor.

“Bevan’s speech was crystal clear and utterly correct, although he never lost the soft, hammocky vowels of our homeland. Nor was his native fire extinguished.

“Having mastered the tongue of the posh boys opposite, he used it in the Commons to lethal effect.”

She added: “Once the home of brilliant autodidacts like Bevan, Labour has become the party that thinks educational standards and speaking well discriminate against poor children.”


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I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago

Peter Sellers had it off brilliantly; “becauws we don’t want the Britishhhh people to heeahhh”
…..and you could hear Secombe and Spike chortling behind him.
Understand what Pearson means, though, but posh and clear are two different things.

Last edited 1 month ago by I.Humphrys
Colin Williams
Colin Williams
1 month ago

The usual spiteful rubbish I’d expect from Pearson. Angela Rayner must be getting to them.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

Pearson, just another right wing gobsh*te, clearly these parasites have been given their orders to distract from the tory implosion and forthcoming pantomime of tory leader selection, tory scum.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

Diwedd y byd, do these sorts of outmoded conclusions play well anywhere anymore? Sadly, this shallow, two-dimensional thinking is not uncommon in “forced monoglots” – any point she may have is undermined completely by the fallacious notion that the human mind cannot hold more than one language at ‘fluent’ levels of proficiency. If the ideas being conveyed are bad, the florid language employed to convey them is just a parlour trick. I don’t think Angela Rayner has good ideas, it has nothing to do with the way she speaks. Wisdom and knowledge, however, hold no truck for Ms. Pearson it… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh
Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

“The Telegraph shall only be used to line the litter tray”

Cathy Jones…

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Yet another of the Unionist commentariat with a heavy dose of Anglophonic supremacy injected into her dopey head. If and when the Union breaks up there’ll be loads of these tossers shuffling about looking for something to do, muttering things like “what’s the world coming to ? “

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Alison Pearson said she spoke Welsh until ” her parents discouraged it” when was this, the late 1800’s, please get real and join the modern world, or are all the readers of this rag stuck in a time warp.

Gareth Davies
1 month ago

Only in The Torygraph – poor journalism!

Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

It really takes a special kind of stupid to fall for such a chauvinism in the firstplace but to deliberately flaunt it? Behold right wing virtue signaling in all its ugliness

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
1 month ago

Says the lady who got a 2:2 in English. Probably has a chip on her shoulder too from being robbed of her native language.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

We just don’t need enemies when these chip 🍟 on their shoulder folk are around .. at least our new Governor General has kept his accent.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

‘Standard English’ lol Snob.

Keanjo
Keanjo
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

What is standard English? Even the Queen has a regional accent.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

Horrible out of date idea

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

To me this is one hell of an admission, clearly her parents thought that their daughter was incapable of attaining fluency in two languages, so they concentrated on the easier one. God bless them, look at her know, sharing her story with the world that even thickies can write for the Telegraph

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

She could also have mentioned David Lloyd George whose command of the English language equalled that of any English politician despite it not being his mother tongue and who also always spoke the best Welsh at every opportunity and passed it on to his children.

Llefain
Llefain
1 month ago

As far as accents, dialects, syntax and grammar, and even first languages go, what truly holds back “children from poorer backgrounds” (and I’ll leave the assumptions she makes in that phrase alone for now) is the attitude of people like Allison Pearson (and Hansard) to those patterns of speech, and the people and the communities who use them. Your way of speaking and communicating is no better because it is the one someone from one group with power chose to prefer and codify and push upon others as at some point in the past. The real world is more interesting… Read more »

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