I’M sorry Angela Rayner, but there’s a world of difference between a regional accent and lazy speech.

Labour’s Deputy Leader took to Twitter - where else! - to complain when someone called her out on her poor grammar. Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, during the fall-out over the Downing Street lockdown party, Ms Rayner asked of the Prime Minister: “Was you there or not at the party?”

Afterwards, stung by what she claimed was criticism of her accent, she tweeted that she’s northern and went to a state comprehensive “but growing up in Stockport I was taught integrity, honesty and decency”.

Well I too am northern and went to a state school, and was taught integrity, honesty and decency. And I know bad grammar when I hear it.

I cringe whenever I hear a sentence like “We wasn’t there” or “You wasn’t to blame” or indeed “Was you there or not?”

It has nothing to do with being northern (southerners are guilty of it too - just saying) - it’s just lazy speech. It’s almost as irritating as saying “haitch” for the letter “H”, which is something practically everyone on TV does.

You don’t have to be an old Etonian to speak well. It’s insulting to assume that if someone is from a working-class background they don’t know how to speak properly. I grew up in West Yorkshire, with a regional accent, but I knew better than to drop an aitch or a ‘t’ because my parents wouldn’t tolerate it. My gran grew up in pre-war poverty but she was a stickler for manners and good grammar.

Grammar can make or break a first impression, so it’s important to get it right. It should matter - to senior politicians, regardless of where they’re from, and to all of us.

I like having a northern accent - I’d much rather have that than bland ‘Estuary English’ or the Received Pronunciation I heard on telly as a child - and I love and am fascinated by the many regional accents in this country.

It’s great that there are lots of different accents on TV and radio now, and that has been inspiring for people like me who grew up at a time when not many people in the media spoke the way we did. There are many northern presenters, broadcasters, actors and musicians who have lovely voices and rich, strong regional accents, but they speak well. They don’t drop Ts or aitches, or ‘ings’. It makes a difference.

Slack speech sets my teeth on edge, and I hear it increasingly on TV and radio. I don’t want highly paid television presenters who sound like they’re having a lazy chat with their hairdresser or their mates in the pub - I want clear diction and correct pronunciation. Taking the time to speak clearly and properly would show far more respect for their job and their viewers than the phoney matey approach that just comes across as awkward and amateurish.

In an age defined by social media, texting and slang, it seems good grammar is fast being eroded, which is a great shame. Yes, language evolves, and how we speak now is probably quite different to a century ago. But we should respect vocabulary, and those we communicate with. And the way we use language should be important to our self respect too.