This was my initial reaction to the supermarket’s mysteriously offensive recruitment ad for northern actors which specifically ruled out applicants with a Liverpool accent. Being a scouser, I bridled instantly (before quickly having a word with myself to “calm down, calm down”) at the thought of yet another brazen assault on the good people of Liverpool. Being a journalist (who writes headlines for a living), my next thought was: “Fewer reasons to shop at Morrisons”.
It soon became clear, however, that this was not a simple “demonise-all-scousers moment”. It was directed at actors. Actors who can probably pull off quite a few regional northern accents. So why the discrimination?
Posted by “a third party” on Casting Networks International website, it appealed for “proper working-class people” for a Morrisons publicity campaign. “They should all be warm and likeable,” it went on. “But not at all like the characters from Benefits Street. They should not sound or look posh. And nobody from Liverpool, please.”
The deplorable language used to stereotype different types of ‘working class’ people is pure class-based discrimination
The crass, gratuitous nature of the words jump out. Like being stopped in the street and hit with a tirade of puerile, outdated incoherence. Growing up against a backdrop of the Thatcherite “managed decline” of the city of Liverpool, I have plenty of personal experience of such nonsense. In my quest for a first job as a reporter, I ended up being interviewed for a news agency role. It went OK until the interviewer, as if struck by a paroxysm of offensiveness, blurted out: “Just one final thing … you don’t write the way you speak, do you?”
A new twist on the “what do you call a scouser in a suit?” gag.
Seriously, don’t be a twat.
It’s not that Morrisons, the agency are biased or discriminating. It’s that they recognise the rest of us are. The rest of the country doesn’t like the scouse accent. Despises it in fact. Thus it doesn’t work well in advertising stuff.