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