Liz Truss MP
South West Norfolk
Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs from July 2014
A former Greenwich councillor and think-tanker, Liz Truss now represents what could be called the “new Right” tendency in the Conservative Party, exemplified by the Free Enterprise Group which she co-founded.
She was born into a left-wing household in Leeds in 1975, daughter of a university professor, and says her earliest political memory was being taken to a CND rally by her mother at the age of eight. She went to Roundhay School in Leeds and read philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford. She was a president of the university Liberal Democrats, known for her radical left-wing views.
A management accountant, she worked as an analyst for Shell International and then Cable and Wireless. She joined the Conservatives in 1996 and was soon chairing the Lewisham Deptford Association. She was deputy director of the think tank Reform for two years before she was selected for the South West Norfolk seat in 2010.
Truss fought the solid Labour Hemsworth in 2001 and was selected for the marginal Calder Valley in 2005, replacing a candidate deselected over an affair. She was sent to shadow the work of Mark Field, the-then Shadow Minister for London. She was elected to Greenwich Council in 2006.
In her maiden speech, she called for an overhaul of the educational qualifications system, wanting to move maths and science “from geek to chic”. She wanted to see employers take the lead in “on the job skills”. As a backbencher she was a regular speaker and loyal voter, with an eye to the future. In 2011 with four other new MPs, she co-authored a book After the Coalition setting out a distinctive Conservative agenda and arguing for a return of a more entrepreneurial and meritocratic culture. She set up the Free Enterprise Group supported by some 30 Tory MPs, mostly from the 2010 intake, with the aim of restoring public faith in the markets.
Appointed a junior Minister for Education in 2012, her responsibilities included childcare and early learning. She continued to campaign for better maths education, initiating a debate on the subject and calling for more funding for schools and colleges to teach maths. She attacked “soft subjects” and modules at A-level and called for all pupils to study languages and history up to 16.
In July 2014, as part of the final Cabinet reshuffle before the General election, Truss was promoted from her role a childcare and early learning minister to Environment Secretary replacing Owen Paterson. She’s engaged with the NFU both locally and in Westminster and led a delegation of local farmers to meet George Eustice MP to discuss concerns over CAP implementation.