Angela Rayner: I won’t let Parliament correct my working-class grammar

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Angela Rayner gives an impassioned speech in Parliament - Jessica Taylor/AFP via Getty Images
Angela Rayner gives an impassioned speech in Parliament - Jessica Taylor/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Rayner has revealed she refuses to allow Hansard to correct her grammar in Parliament in order to stay true to her working-class roots.

Labour’s deputy leader said on Monday night that although she was “sometimes criticised for her blunt way of speaking” she avoids using “politician speak” and prefers to talk naturally in the Commons Chamber.

In a speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research, a centre-Left think tank, Ms Rayner called for more people from working-class backgrounds to enter politics to stop voters feeling “disconnected” and as if politicians are “not on their side”.

Ms Rayner revealed she had told Hansard, the official parliamentary record, not to correct grammatical errors in her Commons contributions.

“The reporters for Hansard have a bit of a nightmare sometimes transcribing the way I speak in Parliament into their house style,” she said. “But I don’t compromise on it – because it’s who I am.

“There are so many colleagues from different parties who have got working-class backgrounds but it almost gets taken out of them – and it’s a frustration for me.

“They just grow up thinking that in order to be something you have to speak a certain way or you have to hide it away.”

A source close to Ms Rayner said she had recently been asked if she would like to change an incorrect usage of “less” to “fewer”, but had declined to maintain a “natural delivery”.

‘I was the poorest of the poor’

In Monday night’s speech, she said Parliament was “certainly a world away from where and how I grew up” and argued that “the professionalisation of politics can be corrosive because it results in ‘politician speak’”.

“I was the poorest of the poor, and for me, school was a chance to get a hot meal at lunchtime because I didn’t have breakfast,” she said.

“If voters can’t see and hear people like them in public life, how can you blame them for feeling disconnected and thinking it’s not for them, and that the people who represent them are not on their side?”

“I have got into trouble for robust comments on occasion, but it’s more authentic than tying yourself in knots or not saying what you mean.”

Ms Rayner was criticised last year for using a speech at the Labour Party’s annual conference to refer to Conservatives as “scum”.

“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile … banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian … piece of scum,” she said at an evening event, before joking that she had “held back a little”.

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