UK Politics

Labour's Chuka Umunna makes Wichita/Worcester gaffe

Chuka Umunna Image copyright Getty Images

For years "Worcester Woman" was seen by Labour as the typical voter the party had to woo to win and hold power.

But now the shadow business secretary has struggled to pronounce the city's name - despite it being the first place he visited when he got his job.

Appearing on BBC Hereford and Worcester, Chuka Umunna called the city something which sounded like 'wichita'.

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Media captionChuka Umunna MP mistakes Worcester for Wichita in BBC radio interview - the station later put the clip to music

Wichita does exist, of course, but not in England. It is several thousand miles away in Kansas in the US.

Breakfast presenter Howard Bentham had suggested to Mr Umunna that Labour were communicating in "management speak" and failing to "talk to normal people".

Mr Umunna said: "I think there are two audiences when you are looking at business policy and economic policy. When you look at the local businesses in your area, you have Local Enterprise Partnerships.

"Now, I doubt that most people on the streets in Hereford and Wichita know what that Local Enterprise Partnership is about, but your local branch of you chambers of commerce or the Federation of Small Businesses, they will know what that is about.

"They are the people who are going to ensure that your economy there grows. Two thirds of private sector jobs come from our small businesses and I think they understand it. The bottom line is for your listeners, what it is about is ensuring we have good quality jobs in every single area."

The station later teased Mr Umunna by setting his mistake to music - the 1968 hit Wichita Lineman sung by Glen Campbell.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Wichita is the biggest city in Kansas in the US

A source close to the shadow business secretary said he had "made a simple mistake in an early morning radio interview, tripping over his words - of course he knows how to say Worcester. It was the first place he visited as shadow business secretary, when he went to Worcester Bosch."

The prime minister has also made a Worcester related faux pas in the past.

David Cameron appeared on the David Letterman Show in America in 2012 and gave the wrong name for the composer of the music to Rule Britannia, naming Edward Elgar instead of Thomas Arne. Edward Elgar was from Worcester.