For many, Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner represents the working class spirit in British politics. And her background makes her one of the few politicians who understand the reality of poverty. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, she recalls some anecdotes. And one in particular is priceless.
Unlike so many of her fellow MPs, Rayner was brought up on a council estate. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, the interviewer asks Rayner what it’s like to be one of the few politicians from a working class background. He pinpoints her “northern accent” and asks whether people comment on it from both political parties. She responds:
I think it happens on both but, in particular more in the Conservatives…
Rayner went on to tell a story about one particular Tory MP, which had us in stitches:
I’m not going to say which Tory MP it is because that would be really mean, but there’s a Conservative MP who fits the stereotype. Posh lad for the Conservative Party, old school…
I was out on a trip with them, a parliamentary trip, and was having a conversation and I started talking about, ‘well on the estate, we had a real problem on our estates locally because the horses were just running free and just like churning up the grass’… And this Conservative MP said, ‘Oh, we have llamas on our estate’… and I’m like, ‘No, I’m talking about the council estate and the wild horses… the travellers had brought’…
That just shows you the difference.
Elsewhere in the interview, Rayner talks more about her background, and recalls having to go around to friends’ houses to ask for dinner:
We had poverty in our house. Even on the council estate I knew I was one of the poorer kids. I used to go round my friends houses on a Sunday to get their Sunday dinner because my mum couldn’t cook either, so I used to love going round my mates and say: ‘Can you ask your Mum if I can come in for Sunday dinner?’
Rayner later became a mother at the age of 16 and went on to work as a care assistant and a trade union official for UNISON. She’s since risen through the ranks to become a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
Rayner also discusses how the welfare state helped her growing up and its importance. She says:
Ideology never put food on my table. I talk about Tony Blair’s tenure, because it changed my life, it gave my children a life that I could never have dreamt of having and I want us to get back to that.
Politics needs more MPs like Rayner – people who’ve gone to work, lived through the struggles, and understand what it means to be on the breadline.
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