SHADOW culture minister Helen Goodman might have expected applause after taking to a microphone to praise the natural beauty and literary heritage of Ingleton while opening the village’s annual summer fair in her constituency.
Unfortunately, the Bishop Auckland MP was left with blank looks from local residents as the speech she made in Ingleton, Co Durham, was in fact expounding the virtues of the more famous Ingleton in the Dales, which lies 70 miles away and has five times the population.
The politician, who has represented Bishop Auckland for ten years, was forced to apologise for the blunder, which appears to have been made after a party worker researched the wrong village on website Wikipedia.
Residents of Co Durham’s Ingleton compared the scene to an April Fool’s Day joke while organisers of Ingleton Village Fair and Classic Vehicle Show said it was unlikely she would be invited back.
Tony Todd, who was there with his family, said: “It would seem that the local MP knows very little about her area. She seemed quite oblivious to the fact that she was talking about another Ingleton. She was using a microphone so everyone will have heard her. I looked at my family and I thought, ‘what is she babbling on about?’. She dug a big hole for herself. If it had been April 1, I’d think it was a set-up.
“She’s made a lasting impression on me – just not a good one. I would not vote for her.”
While visitors to Ingleton, in North Yorkshire, can enjoy the White Scar Caves and the Ingleton Waterfalls walk, those at the County Durham fair were there to enjoy face painting and classic and vintage cars on show.
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Neil Flowers, a member of the show’s organising committee, said: “She started off by saying how thrilled she was to be invited along to open a local event in her constituency, and then she started talking about Ingleton and what it was famous for. She said it was famous for its limestone caves and went on to a link with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes books, and both of those things are to do with Ingleton in North Yorkshire.
“The nearest things we’ve got to caves are the old mine workings nearby. She obviously does not know the place and whoever had done the research for the speech had not got it right.
“It didn’t make her look very good. I spoke to one or two people who had realised what she’d done. I think that if it had being pointed out to her it would have made it more embarrassing.
“I don’t think that we’ll be asking Helen Goodman back to open the fair.”
Ms Goodman said: “I am sorry that I made the mistake. It was an honest accident on my behalf and some people pointed it out to me on the day.”