Elizabeth Truss

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The Right Honourable
Elizabeth Truss
MP
Liz Truss MP, Minister for Education and Childcare, at her speech setting out government plans to promote more great childcare.jpg
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Owen Paterson
Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Education and Childcare
In office
4 September 2012 – 15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sarah Teather (Minister of State for Schools and Families)
Succeeded by TBD
Member of Parliament
for South West Norfolk
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Christopher Fraser
Majority 13,140 (26.7%)
Personal details
Born (1975-07-26) 26 July 1975 (age 38)
Oxford, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Children 2
Alma mater Merton College, Oxford
Website Official website

Elizabeth Mary Truss[1] (born 26 July 1975), also known as Liz Truss, is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South West Norfolk since the 2010 general election. Since 15 July 2014, she has served as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Truss grew up in a left-wing family in Paisley and Leeds, before attending Oxford. She worked in sales and as an economist, before becoming deputy director at the think-tank Reform. She was elected in 2010 for South West Norfolk.

As a backbencher, Truss called for reform in a number of policy areas, including childcare, maths education, and the economy.[2] She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs. She has authored and co-authored a number of papers and books, including After the Coalition (2011) and Britannia Unchained (2012).

In September 2012, she was appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for education and childcare in the Department for Education.[3]

Early life[edit]

Truss was raised in a northern, left-wing household; her father is a professor with an interest in mathematical logic, and her mother was a nurse, teacher, and member of the CND.[4] Truss has described both as being "to the left of Labour".[2] While her mother agreed to campaign for Truss when she ran for election to Parliament, her father – due to his politics – refused to do so.[2][5]

Truss attended a state primary school in Paisley, in Scotland,[2] followed by Roundhay School, a comprehensive school in north-east Leeds. She lived in Canada for a year, and contrasts the competitive attitude in schooling there with the "trendy" education she received in Leeds.[2] Amongst her A-levels, Truss studied both Ordinary Maths and Advanced Maths.[6] She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Merton College, Oxford.

After graduation in 1996, she worked for Shell as a commercial manager and Cable & Wireless as economics director, and became a qualified management accountant.[7] Truss became the deputy director of Reform in January 2008,[8] where she advocated more rigorous academic standards in schools, a greater focus on tackling serious and organised crime, and urgent action to deal with Britain's falling competitiveness. She co-authored The Value of Mathematics[9] and A New Level[10] amongst other reports.

Truss was President of Oxford University Liberal Democrats and expressed republican sentiments at the 1994 Liberal Democrats conference.[11][12] Truss joined the Conservative Party in 1996.[13] She served as the chairman of the Lewisham Deptford Conservative Association from 1998 to 2000.[13] She was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Greenwich in 2006, standing down in 2010, shortly before the end of her term of office.

Candidate[edit]

She had previously unsuccessfully fought the parliamentary seats of Hemsworth in 2001 and Calder Valley in 2005.[14]

In October 2009, she was selected for the Norfolk seat by members of the constituency Conservative Association, and won over 50% of the vote in the first round of the final against five other candidates, one of whom was local to the county.[15] [16] However, shortly afterwards, some members of the constituency Association, dubbed the 'Turnip Taliban' and led by former High Sheriff of Norfolk Sir Jeremy Bagge, 7th Baronet,[17] objected to Truss’s selection, claiming that information about her extramarital affair with Conservative MP Mark Field (reported to have taken place several years previously) had been withheld from the members.[18][19] A motion was proposed to terminate Truss’s candidature, but this was defeated by 132 votes to 37 at a general meeting of the Association’s members three weeks later.[20]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Since being elected to Parliament on 6 May 2010, she has campaigned for issues including the retention of the RAF Tornado base at RAF Marham in her constituency;[21] over seven months she asked 13 questions in the Commons about RAF Marham, secured a special debate on the subject, wrote dozens of letters to ministers and collected signatures on a petition which was delivered to Downing Street.[22] She also successfully lobbied for the dualling of the A11 west of Thetford.[23] With an eye on the Thetford Forest, in her constituency, she spoke out against the proposal to sell off forests[24] and played a leading role in thwarting a waste incinerator being built in West Norfolk.[25] Her work to campaign for design improvements to road junctions in her constituency, notably the A47, led to her being named as Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by road safety charity Brake in January 2013.[26]

In March 2011, she wrote a paper for the liberal think-tank CentreForum in which she argued for an end to bias against serious academic subjects in the education system so that social mobility can be improved.[27] Truss wrote a further paper for the same think-tank in May 2012, in which she argued for change in the structure of the childcare market in Britain.[28]

In October 2011, she founded the Free Enterprise Group, which has been supported by over 40 other Conservative MPs.[29] In September 2011, together with four other members of the Free Enterprise Group, she had co-authored After the Coalition, a book which sought to challenge the consensus that Britain's economic decline is inevitable by arguing for the return of a more entrepreneurial and meritocratic culture.[30] A further volume by the same authors, Britannia Unchained, billed as "an insightful and critical assessment of Britain's challenges in the face of future uncertainty", was published in September 2012.[31] As part of a serialisation in the Daily Telegraph, Truss wrote an article previewing her chapter on the importance of science in education.[32] The piece was praised by the physicist Brian Cox as an "excellent article".[33]

Truss has championed Britain following Germany's lead in allowing people to have tax-free and less-heavily regulated "mini-jobs".[34] Since Truss published a paper on the policy for the Free Enterprise Group in February 2012, the policy has been examined by the Treasury as a policy to promote growth.[35][36]

Truss has campaigned for improved teaching of more rigorous school subjects, especially mathematics. She has publicised that only 20% of British students study maths to 18,[6] and called for maths classes to be compulsory for all of those in full-time education.[37] Truss herself studied double A-level maths.[6] She has argued that comprehensive school pupils are being "mis-sold" easy, low-value subjects to boost school results: with comprehensive school pupils six times as likely to take media studies at A-level as privately educated pupils are.[38] Truss has also criticised the over-reliance on calculators to the detriment of mental arithmetic.[39]

From March 2011, she was a Member of the Justice Select Committee[40] until she was appointed as a minister.

Ministerial career[edit]

Junior Minister at Department for Education[edit]

On 4 September 2012, Truss was appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education, with responsibility for childcare and early learning, assessment, qualifications and curriculum reform, behaviour and attendance, and school food review.[41] In this role, she developed some of the policy areas that she had pursued as a backbencher.

In January 2013, she announced proposals to reform A-Levels, by concentrating examinations at the end of two-year courses.[42] She sought to improve British standards in maths for fear that children are falling behind those in Asian countries,[43] and led a fact-finding visit to visit schools and teacher-training centres in Shanghai in February 2014 to see how children there have become the best in the world at maths.[44]

Truss also outlined plans to reform childcare, intended to overhaul childcare qualifications, and provide more choice of quality education and care for parents.[45] The proposed reforms were broadly welcomed by some organisations such as the charity 4Children,[46] the Confederation of British Industry[47] and the College of West Anglia.[48] However, the proposals met opposition from others. The TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady and the then Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg were among those criticising the reforms,[49] echoed by some parents and childcare bodies, such as the charity National Day Nurseries Association.[50] The columnist Polly Toynbee was highly critical of the minister's plans,[51] and challenged Truss to demonstrate how to care for two babies alongside four toddlers on her own. Truss responded to Toynbee's challenge by saying that being an early educator was a very demanding job, requiring great and specialist expertise, for which she was not trained.[52] In the event, aspects of the reforms relating to relaxation of childcare ratios were blocked by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.[53]

Cabinet Minister at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs[edit]

On 15 July 2014, she was appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[54]

Personal life[edit]

Truss is married with 2 daughters, and lives in Downham Market, in her constituency, and Greenwich, London.

Bibliography[edit]

  • After the Coalition (2011)
  • Britannia Unchained (2012)

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8744. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Asthana, Anushka (9 June 2012). "The lady's for turning, right from CND to Conservative". The Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Truss MP". Department for Education. 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Profile: Elizabeth Truss". The Sunday Times. 8 November 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Forsyth, James (23 June 2012). "Next right". The Spectator. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c McGurran, Deborah (28 March 2012). "Norfolk MP calls for cash for maths". BBC News. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Biography", Elizabeth Truss' official website
  8. ^ "''Guardian'' contributor page". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  9. ^ "The value of mathematics", Reform, June 2008
  10. ^ "A new level", Reform, June 2009
  11. ^ Truss flirted with Lib Dems before embracing Tories, The Times, 17 July 2014
  12. ^ Liberal Democrat conference: the spirit of Roy Jenkins lives on, The Guardian, 4 September 2012
  13. ^ a b "Elizabeth Truss MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Electoral History and Profile", Guardian
  15. ^ "David Cameron phones local grandee", Daily Telegraph, 13 November 2009
  16. ^ "Iain Dale's EDP column", Eastern Daily Press, 31 October 2009
  17. ^ “Sir Jeremy Bagge reveals his thoughts about his Tory group's nicknames”, “Daily Mail” 21 November 2009
  18. ^ “Tory's affair details 'withheld at meeting'”, “Eastern Daily Press” 30 October 2009
  19. ^ "A field day for the Tory old guard", by Andy McSmith, The Independent, 16 November 2009
  20. ^ "Tory woman wins selection battle", BBC News, 17 November 2009
  21. ^ "Campaign aim to keep Tornado base at RAF Marham", BBC News, 13 November 2010
  22. ^ "Elizabeth Truss joins the cabinet table in reshuffle", BBC News, 18 July 2014
  23. ^ "Former minister’s regret over A11 dualling", EDP, 17 March 2011
  24. ^ "Government urged to grant heritage status to Thetford Forest", EDP, 2 February 2011
  25. ^ "Elizabeth Truss joins the cabinet table in reshuffle", BBC News, 18 July 2014
  26. ^ "Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month", Brake, January 2013
  27. ^ "Academic rigour and social mobility: how low income students are being kept out of top jobs", CentreForum, 15 March 2011
  28. ^ "Affordable quality: new approaches to childcare", CentreForum, May 2012
  29. ^ "Free Enterprise Group", FEG website
  30. ^ "After the Coalition", Biteback Publishing, 16 September 2011
  31. ^ "Britannia Unchained", Palgrave Macmillan
  32. ^ "We must shift science out of the geek ghetto", Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2012
  33. ^ "Brian Cox tweet", Twitter, 4 September 2012
  34. ^ Jowit, Juliette (19 August 2012). "Treasury considers bid to boost employment with tax-free 'mini-jobs'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  35. ^ Cooper, Rachel (20 August 2012). "Treasury 'considers tax-free mini-jobs to spur employment'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  36. ^ Warrell, Helen; Bryant, Chris (19 August 2012). "Treasury weighs German 'mini jobs' scheme". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  37. ^ Coughlan, Sean (21 June 2012). "Maths should be compulsory until 18, says MP report". BBC News. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  38. ^ Paton, Graeme (15 June 2011). "Comprehensive school pupils 'mis-sold' soft A-level courses". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  39. ^ McGurran, Deborah (1 December 2011). "Elizabeth Truss in a calculated move on maths". BBC News. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  40. ^ "Justice committee - membership", UK Parliament, March 2011
  41. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare", gov.uk website. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  42. ^ "A-level shake up will 'end the treadmill' of repeated exams", BBC Democracy Live, 23 January 2013
  43. ^ "Liz Truss: strong media personality with big ideas on schooling", Guardian, 15 July 22014
  44. ^ "Shanghai visit for minister to learn maths lessons", BBC News, 18 February 2014
  45. ^ "Childcare restrictions to be relaxed, minister announces", Guardian, 29 January 2013
  46. ^ "Parents to have more choice of high quality childcare", Department for Education, 29 January 2013
  47. ^ "Coalition promises 'More Great Childcare' amid growing anxiety in the nursery sector", daynurseries.co.uk, 29 January 2013
  48. ^ "College supports childcare changes", Lynn News, 8 February 2013
  49. ^ "Childcare plans will hit standards, Labour warns", Channel 4 News, 29 January 2013
  50. ^ "Quality of early education must not be sacrificed if we want More Great Childcare says national charity", NDNA, 29 January 2013
  51. ^ "How do you fit six toddlers into a buggy? Ask Liz Truss", Guardian, 29 January 2013
  52. ^ "Childcare reform proposals face fierce criticism", Guardian, 29 January 2013
  53. ^ "Childcare Ratio Shake-Up Blocked By Clegg", Sky News, 6 June 2013
  54. ^ "Biography", gov.uk, Retrieved 18 July 2014

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Christopher Fraser
Member of Parliament
for South West Norfolk

2010–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Owen Paterson
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2014–present
Incumbent