Why Birmingham MP Jess Phillips loves her Brummie accent - as London study raises issues about Brummagem

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Jess Philips says her Brummie accent has been her “greatest gift” as broadcaster Adrian Chiles also defends talking Brummie

Birmingham MP Jess Philips has spoken out in praise of the Brummie accent as a survey finds people in the Midlands were more likely to worry about the way the spoke than other UK regions.

The Labour MP for Yardley was joined by broadcaster Adrian Chiles, who hails from Quinton, in defending our Birmingham dialect. The pair spoke following a survey from Queen Mary University London, funded by the Sutton Trust, which found that almost half of UK workers had been mocked for theirs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It forms part of the Accent Bias in Britain project and found that 46% of workers had faced jibes about their accents, while those with northern English or Midlands accents were more likely to worry about the way they spoke. An entrenched "hierarchy of accent" caused social anxiety throughout some people’s lives, the report concluded.

"When I was a kid, my dad warned us we wouldn’t be taken seriously because my vowel sounds were very Brummie," Ms Phillips told the BBC. "You still get this assumption that we go down the mines or I work in a car factory because of the way I sound."

She said one of her main roles as an MP was to communicate with regular people, adding that her accent meant they often felt she understood their situations.

Labour MP Jess Phillips. Picture: PALabour MP Jess Phillips. Picture: PA
Labour MP Jess Phillips. Picture: PA

Also speaking to the BBC on the matter, Mr Chiles urged people to "be yourself". While acknowledging he might have subconsciously moderated his Brummie vowels over the years to make them more "acceptable", he said speaking "clearly" was far more important than people’s accents.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I have found it to my advantage in life... people always underestimated me. They hear a Brummie accent and they think you’re thick," he said. "People’s expectations were always very low.

"It meant I had to do relatively little to impress them. I only had to string together three coherent sentences and people looked at me as if I was Stephen Hawking."

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.