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We're certainly NOT in Kansas, Chuka

Worcester Editorial 8th Jul, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE SHADOW business secretary was left red-faced after a live gaffe saw him mispronounce the name of the Faithful City.

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham in London, took to BBC Hereford and Worcester last Tuesday (July 1) to set out Labour’s radical agenda for change in a bid to boost growth across the country.

But while trying to get the policies across, the 35-year-old called Worcester “Wichita”, an American city in Kansas which is more than 4,000 miles away.

Plans to decentralise funding and put more power in the hands of businesses were overshadowed by the faux pas, but Mr Umunna carried on without correcting his mistake.

“A lot of government money spent to help grow our economies all round the UK is directed centrally from Westminster and we think we need to put more power in the hands of local businesses and local people in different regions, to spend as they see fit to grow their local economies,” he said.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said the mispronunciation was part of a wider problem that show Labour are neglecting the smaller cities, and focus solely on “metropolitan” areas.

“I think Labour’s approach to build back up the regions will mean the policies tend to be skewed to the big cities rather than smaller ones,” he said.

“That brings me back to “Wichita” in that they don’t pay attention to the small cities and although it’s all very funny, there is a mistake here being made.

“I like Chuka, I think he’s a bright enough guy that he wouldn’t of meant anything bad by it, but I think it does represent the fact that they underestimate the importance of places like Worcester.

“I think it says more about Labour as a party and that they tend to focus more on the big metropolitan areas and they’re just not that interested in places like Worcester, which considering the role of Worcester woman is electing Tony Blair is ironic.”

A Labour spokesman said:

“This was a mistake in one of many breakfast radio interviews Chuka has done this week promoting Labour’s ambitious plans to decentralise power and spur better-balanced growth.

“The fact is that of course Chuka knows how to pronounce the name but simply made a mistake in a live interview.

“This week Labour announced radical plans to give power over £30bn of spending to local areas to help them spur better-balanced growth built on the talents of all. This is why it is important for the people of Worcester to elect a local candidate like Labour’s Coun Joy Squires in 2015.

“But rather than engaging with Labour’s plans to boost local growth and help small businesses, local Tories are instead focusing on a  mistake in a radio interview.”

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