Friday, November 06, 2009

Liz Truss Comes Out Fighting

Liz Truss has certainly come out fighting in a feature interview in today's Eastern Daily Press, which you can read in full HERE. She confronts her critics head on, but in a calm and measured manner. She certainly seemed to win over EDP public affairs editor Shaun Lowthorpe, who concludes the article...
If she can survive the next week and a bit, then it strikes me she can get through anything, and my sense is people (and I don't mean politicians here) will warm to her for doing so. I've seen enough to believe she deserves the chance to be an MP. But what I really wonder is, given what she has gone through, do the Tories of South-West Norfolk deserve her?

She explains in full what happened about the non disclosure of her affair...
“I feel I was open and transparent in the process,” she said. “When I submitted my CV, I made it very clear about the affair. My understanding was that would be part of the CV discussion when the six CVs were selected to go forward.

“When I went to the meeting my understanding was the local officers would know about that. If I had known that they didn't know, I would have rung them up.

“I have been open and transparent at what I thought was the right point in the process. With hindsight I would have taken out a billboard! But hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

In fact ringing people up was also difficult from the outset as the local association advised candidates not to talk to anybody including the media - so much for openness and transparency there. They also opted against the kind of open primary selection process being carried out by Conservatives elsewhere.

Everybody seems to be in a curious lose/lose situation; if she stays the accusation of Notting Hill metropolitan Tory interference remains, if she goes it looks like a return to the nasty party.

I ask her if she is sorry for what has happened. She starts to talk about the affair.

“I do regret it,” she said. “I am sorry about it. I have learned from it and my family want to put it behind us.”

We are sitting in John Lewis in Norwich having a coffee, I wonder if this is really any of my business.

“The issue about my past is that people want to know what I have learned from that,” she explained. “I have spoken to many people about that,” she said. “This is what I said to the executive. It was a mistake, it was something I regretted, and something I learned from.

“I've very much learned from the past. We are coming up to our 10th wedding anniversary. Since this happened we have become a lot stronger.

“I am sorry about the affair it was a mistake. The main person I am sorry to is my husband. We have now made that up and moved on from that.”

I've been struck by the whole row, as I had Googled her name a week before the selection (when I was leaked details, from yes a Conservative).

I also mentioned it to some Conservative activists, who have close links with the constituency.

But the party apparently remained completely in the dark, the jungle drums did not beat, it seems.

And a routine selection question about whether she had any skeletons in her cupboard, was never put.

“I'm not sure the interweb has reached Downham Market,” one local Tory joked to me at the time...

Ms Truss said the other myth was that Central Office had interfered in the selection process to help the former 'A-lister' get selected.

“When the six CVs were selected, mine was one of the CVs put forward by the local association,” she added. “It wasn't put forward by Central Office, I was selected from the 150 applicants, by the executive committee.

“It was the local officers in South-West Norfolk that wanted me to be interviewed. I said at the time, should they select me I will move to the seat. They voted for me on that basis.

“The idea I am some kind of stooge is misplaced.”

So what does she make of it all?

“That's the situation I find myself in,” she said. “We are where we are. But I want to reassure people that I am committed to the job, and I want to do the job.

“I think politics is a difficult business, somebody who goes into politics is opening themselves up to these kinds of issues,” she said.

I hope this article is read by as many people as possible among South West Norfolk Conservatives, and at least gives them pause for thought.


Will 883 said...

Iain - you missed out the bit where she implied you were "patronising" and "offensive"!!

She said she had been angered at negative national media coverage the county had attracted since the story broke and the “Neanderthal” and “Turnip Taliban” jibes aimed at some Tory activists over their stance on her selection.

“I think it's completely offensive, what people have been saying. I certainly haven't met anyone that fits that description in the constituency,” she said. “I think it's patronising and offensive. I don't think it's true.”

Bill Quango MP said...

In my own constituency, far removed from London, and what would be refereed to as inbred territory, this sort of attitude is common. When i first arrived a primary school headmistress was being shunned because she had got divorced, a local butcher was being avoided as he had had an affair,illegitimate child, and there were meetings in the village hall about not using the post office as the post mistress was carrying on with a married postman.

All of these were led by a woman, who later had an affair herself and abandoned her children for the new lover.

Lovely places villages, but still very small minded, bigoted and hypocritical as they have always been.

If Liz Truss does just a little digging I'm sure she will uncover plenty of dirt.

Sean Haffey said...

These kind of farces will continue until the people running Central Office applications start running their department competently.

Whether A-lists, AWS or even the re-opening of the lists in June, it's clear that the process is profoundly undemocratic and poorly-run.

It's easy to blame the Norfolk branch and sneer at what they've done, but a good part of the blame lies elsewhere.

Clameur de Haro said...

Hardly "comes out fighting", Iain - it seemed to be rather a soft-focus, even deferential, interview, and that impression isn't dispelled by the obviously staged "I'm really oh-so rurally minded" photograph.

Notice the snide little comment "I'm under 40, so perhaps it's a generational thing"? Brilliant strategy! Risk alienating any floating voters over 40 who might have been inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She has been unfairly criticised, no question, but she needs to do more than that to counter the charge of being merely a CCHQ-imposed Cameroon Cutie Clone straight out of Notting Hill casting.

Which is a pity, because one senses from her background and political journey that there's more to her - but it's not coming through.

Jonforest said...

While believing wholeheartedly that there is too much central control of candidate selection, the way Truss has been treated is a disgrace.
It simply would not have happened to a man.
Is her MP former lover facing the same kind of inquisition?
One wonders if any of the people throwing stones are, in fact, living in glass houses.

Shinsei said...

I'd be interested in more details about Liz Truss's claim that:

"When I submitted my CV, I made it very clear about the affair."

If this is indeed true then it seems extraordinary that the SW Norfolk association overturned their initial selection.

There's one thing about not Googling Truss, but not even reading her CV ?

Johnny Norfolk said...

If what she says is true and I have no reason to not believe her. If she is deslected then it is Conservative Central Offices fault.
That is where the blame will lie.

So many people here judge rural areas away from London by their own standards of behavour. If an area takes a different view to your own you may disagree but you should show respect for other views.

People like Iain make rude remarks about these things and when it happens to him he complains to the PCC.

Sauce for the goose Iain, sauce for the gander

Sandra said...

Notice the snide little comment "I'm under 40, so perhaps it's a generational thing"?

Clameur de Haro - read the article again; those aren't Truss's words, they are those of the journalist!

Don't see what is wrong with the photo - she is in Norfolk, so it is hardly likely to have skyscrapers in the background.

Johnny Norfolk said...

"I'm under 40, so perhaps it's a generational thing"?

So she is saying she does not understand older people. Great remark for someone wanting to represent a higher than average age area. She would appear to me to be more suitable for a non rural town, or a city.
I do not think she has any idea about the life and concerns for a farming or rural area.

Iain Dale said...

Johnny, put your reading glasses on my friend! That was not a quote from her, it was from the journalist who wrote the article!

Scary Biscuits said...

Iain, Why are you defending this communist woman?

She's not being deselected because she had an affair - that's the excuse. She's being deselected because they local party has belatedly realised that their candidate isn't a Conservative, just a Cameroon political transexual - where your opinions don't matter as longs as you're gay, female or black. (It's the same thinking that caused CCO to invite that well known Conservative, Brian Paddick, to be our candidate for Mayor of London.)

The catalyst for her deselection process was probably Cameron's pronouncement on AWS, which no doubt angered a lot of people.

People in the Westminster bubble, like Iain, need to realise that most Conservative activists are actually Conservative and strongly resent all the criticism heaped on them from Westminister. It's all the more intolerable now that they've been shown up as such a lot of charlatans with expenses scandles. Westminster Tories need to make peace with the party in the rest of the country. Cameron's greatest weakness is that he's not enthused his base as Maggie or Obama did. Continued criticism from California based CCO officials only estranges us further.

Clameur de Haro said...

Apologies to Sandra and Iain - I did indeed ascribe to Truss what was no more than speculation from Lowthorpe. My mistake.

Although that in itself does beg two further questions.......

Is it inviting Truss to conclude that any reluctance to adopt her is merely reverse ageism?

And isn't Lowthorpe impliedly criticising what must be a significant proportion of his readership?

Anonymous said...

Liz Truss may have come out fighting, but can somebody please put Julie "I'm entitled/my country needs me" Kirkbride back in her box, and padlock the lid this time please?

Silly mare. If by some chance she is reselected this lifelong card-carrying Conservative will personally go and campaign against her come the election.

I suppose if she really must prove that she's wanted, the one route that I'd suggest is acceptable would be for her to call a by-election and stand again on her record. If that's not palatable Julie, give it up - you're only going to embarrass yourself and the rest of the party too, whilst depriving us of a much needed Conservative seat.

Sandra said...

Why are you defending this communist woman?

Scary Biscuits, can we have a grown-up dicussion, please? If she were a communist, she would be an advocate of a society based on the common ownership of property. She clearly isn't, she's been strongly advocating free markets in her work. Read any of Reform's papers over the past couple of years.

And she herself has been a Conservative activist since she left university, with a record as a constituency association Chairman and local councillor, so she probably understands the grassroots far better than many of her critics would like to think.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Yawn Yawn Iain...please let this one die a death.....there are so many problems about, this one just isnt on anyone`s radar...frankly in the greater sheme of things...who cares said...

I still can't believe anyone gives a flying flip about an affair in this day and age. I feel like I'm in medievil times or something.

Scary Biscuits said...


In the US they use the word chino to describe people who are Conservative In Name Only. That is, people who are in the party for some reason (often social sometimes merely opportunistic) but don't really share its views. None of the evidence you give of Liz's service to the party suggests that she is not a chino.

On the other hand her stated views on a number of issues are out of step with both mainstream Conservatism and local constituents. Her republicanism and criticism of the Queen, for example, puts her in a very small faction nationally and, I suspect, a miniscule one locally.

This isn't the place for a debate about how left wing you have to be before you become a communist (high taxes, big state, printing money?). Calling somebody communist isn't being childish, as you suggest; it simply means that I am referring to her as somebody quite left wing and certainly somebody I wouldn't vote for.

Paul Halsall said...

God save skanks. Lord, I have been there often enough myself

Sandra said...

Scary Biscuits,

I'm afraid that you haven't persuaded me. Her stated views on reducing public expenditure and reduction in the size of the state (recent Reform papers, eg "Back to black" available on the Reform website) are hardly left wing, and certainly not Communist (however you define it). In fact, her background in economics and business (yes, and her "think tank" role) suggest that she has precisely the sort of insight and capability that a future Conservative government would find very useful.

Even her remarks about the Monarchy were made when she was a teenager, and she abandoned those views when she left university in the 1990s.

Leslie said...

Why is she so keen to represent - and why are you so keen to see her represent - a group of people Ms. Truss' supporters have derided as the "turnip taliban"? You and others have repeatedly dismissed the people of the constituency for their ignorance, their lack of intelligence, their rural lack of sophistication, their self-righteous (consider the irony), their holier-than-thou attitude (see above re irony).

I ask in all seriousness: why would you want Ms. Truss, whom you respect, to represent these people whom you clearly, unambiguously and vocally hold in contempt?

I further ask why you believe that castigating and insulting the people of Norfolk for not endorsing Ms. Truss will render them more likely to endorse here.

Iain Dale said...

Don't be so pathetic. Although you do well to play into the stereotype.

I believe it was Ms Truss's opponents who came up with the phrase the Turnip Taliban. Clearly you do not do 'irony'.

You say "You and others have repeatedly dismissed the people of the constituency for their ignorance, their lack of intelligence, their rural lack of sophistication, their self-righteous (consider the irony), their holier-than-thou attitude (see above re irony)."

Please point to where I have said any of these things.

I hold no one in contempt. People can justify their own views. And if I disagree with them I shall say so. That does not mean I hold them in contempt. Don't put words into my mouth.

Tim said...

As someone who knew Liz Truss when she was a student LibDem, and know her now that she is a Tory I can assure would-be Tories that Liz is as Tory as they come. That is why she and I are now in different parties!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain any comments on this latest piece from the EDP.

"New revelations have emerged over the conduct of Conservative candidate Elizabeth Truss.

They further raise the threat of her de-selection in SW Norfolk with yet another aspect of her troubled political background coming to light.

The latest revelations relate to her involvement with the Yorkshire seat of Calder Valley, when they selected her as their parliamentary candidate in February 2005.

In the last few hours, the detail has provoked protests from a Tory Breckland councillor who said that Ms Truss “has the cheek of Old Nick” and David Cameron should stop backing her."

You have to buy the print copy to find out what they are. Do you know Iain ?

Johnny Norfolk said...


I have finally done as you suggested and Googled Liz Truss.

I am not a prude, but given what she did and the way and when she did it, there is no way I would want her as my MP. We have enough dodgy people without this sort of thing.
If she carries on it is just going to be a disaster for the party.

I do not think she can be trusted.

I would fully support the members of South West Norfolk if they de selected her.

I would feel exactly the same if it were a man under the same circumstances.

Cynic said...

The fundamental point here is, why does the affair matter? And the reality is that many of those locals protesting loudest may have their own little secrets that they want to keep hidden.

And, lets be honest about this, in my experience of living in communities like this they are hotbeds of bed-hopping vice - much more so than I have ever seen in London!!!!

But I can understand that this culture exists. A friend of ours met her husband at university. They decided to settle in his home town in Norfolk. They loved the area but only stuck it for 4 years before moving to London.

Members of his family would openly say to him in front of her 'can't understand why you didn't find a nice local girl' and question her about why she had left her home town to go away and study - 'couldn't you have done that locally'. Business colleagues would question her motivation for coming to live and work in Norfolk as an outsider.

In the end it all became too oppressive and they just left. Perhaps Liz Truss should reconsider if they deserve her.

jailhouselawyer said...

The article appears to have the fingerprints of CCHQ all over it.

I was tickled by this bit: "We are sitting in John Lewis in Norwich having a coffee...".

I thought that the John Lewis list had gone out of the window.

Perhaps, like a lot of women Liz Truss was just doing a bit of window shopping. Just in case she gets reselected and becomes a MP. Important things first, expenses.

Yorkshire Tory said...

The "new" story in the EDP basically says that Liz Truss didn't announce to the Calder Valley Conservatives when she was selected 5 years ago that she was then *at the time* currently having an affair. Hardly surprising, but she has resolved all that now. Her affair was never an issue throughout her campaign because nobody knew about it. I wouldn't consider this to be a damaging new revelation at all! Incidentally, I think you will find that M Field did not disclose it to his constituency in 2005 either.

If this is the best that Liz's critics can come up with, they really must be desperate.

Paul Rogan, although a Conservative councillor at the time, was never a team player, and he subsequently defected to the English Democrats, unrelated to Liz's candidature at the 2005 General. He is an attention-seeker.

And I don't know Breckland Councillor Robert Childerhouse personally (as I am from West Yorkshire, a long way from CCO incidentally I might add!). But from what I have read, he was one of the Norfolk Tories who wanted to be the SWN candidate, so he clearly has a case of sour grapes and has his own motives for trying to undermine Liz Truss.

What I do know for sure was that Liz was a fantastic candidate in the Calder Valley in 2005, she brought energy and campaigning zeal to the constituency. Her agent in 2005 has nothing but praise for her. Do SWN realise how lucky they are to have her?

Sandra said...

I think that Yorkshire Tory's analysis is valid. That latest EDP story is feeble. Most of the attacks on Truss seem to have come from a minority of people who couldn't accept the democratic decision of those members who chose her.

I think that most SWN members do realise how lucky they are to have Truss; that is why more than half supported her on the first ballot at her selection meeting - it's just a few malcontents who are causing a fuss to advance their own agendas, even if it is bad for the Party as a whole.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, from only reading the online edition you are unlikely to have read the other article in the paper yesterday that absolutely castigated her and the Tory party nationally over this.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Well i must live in a different world to many here. After reading aboout her goings on both past and present, how anybody thinks she should be an MP is just unbelievable.

Its because so many people like this are in power we have the problems we have.You just cannot trust them.
It brings into focus the poor attitude of the Tory leadership just blidly supporting her. I would trust the local parties decision not Camerons.

There are just NO standards in public life anymore.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain, this is another piece in todays Mail.

The party does not need this, and this is BEFORE the election. With how she has tried to hide things in conjunction with CCO and Calder Valley saying they would never have selected her as she was acting behind their backs havinf just deslected someone for an affair the press will just never leave it alone, if she was elected she would have spy press cameras after her, Strange reports on "she was spotted with unknown man" etc. etc. I can see it all now then the accusations of sleeze again. I cannot believe Cameron cannot see the implications or that you cannot.

I think David Cameron is on very this ice at the moement.