Welsh MP complains of Conservatives ‘mocking’ his accent in the House of Commons

Welsh MP complains of Conservatives ‘mocking’ his accent in the House of Commons

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Welsh MP has complained of Conservative MPs making “disparaging remarks” about his accent in the House of Commons.

Jonathan Edwards, a Plaid Cymru MP, raised the issue with Speaker John Bercow, and said he had become aware of the “mocking” during the second reading debate of the Finance Bill on Monday.

The MP said the comments only reinforced “the privilege and exclusive perception of Westminster”.

Mr Bercow in his response condemned the comments as "bullying" but also admitted he himself had on occasion engaged in "extraordinarily ineffective mimicry" of certain MPs and apologised for his behaviour.


'Disparaging remarks' 

Mr Edwards said: "During the debate on the second reading of the Finance Bill yesterday it was brought to my attention that a fellow member of this House, rather than engaging with the substance of the issue being discussed chose to make disparaging remarks about my accent.

"This is not the first incident of its kind in this place.

"This House is meant to be representative of all the nations, accents and backgrounds of the British state and this kind of behaviour only serves to reinforce privilege and exclusive perception of Westminster politics.

"Mocking an accent is a very serious matter as it ultimately undermines an individual or a group of people's identity."


'A form of bullying' 

Mr Bercow responded: "Personal mockery of one another and members come in all shapes and sizes with a wide diversity of accents, national origins and ways of speaking, is wrong and to many people it constitutes a form of bullying.

"I am the last person to depreciate good humour in the way in which we interact, I may on occasion myself have caused offence by my extraordinarily ineffective mimicry for which I apologise.

"I have been known to seek to imitate the Father of the House (Ken Clarke) who has been a friend of mine for well over 20 years.

"As I say my efforts at imitating him are usually feeble and they've always been undertaken in a friendly spirit.

"But I think it is a safe rule of thumb that people should not mimic other people, let's debate the issues, play the ball rather than the man or the woman."