Still my favourite political conversation about Liz Truss

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I had this conversation over a year ago, when Boris Johnson was still Prime Minister, Partygate was at its height and Liz Truss was only beginning to position herself for the campaign that would ultimately see her get the top job in British politics. Since then we’ve had the leadership campaign, her short and tumultous period as Prime Minister and the Great Lettuce Race – but this is still my favourite ever conversation about Liz Truss.

Them: I don’t see why Liz Truss thinks she should be Prime Minister. All she’s ever done is write a book about grammar.

Me: What?

Them: It was a good book; I liked it. But it doesn’t make her qualified to be Prime Minister.

Me: [pause]: That wasn’t Liz Truss.

Them: Wasn’t it?

Me: No, that was Lynne Truss.

Them: So, doesn’t she care about grammar then?

Me: It’s not been a major focus of her political career, no.

Them: Well, I’ve got even less respect for her now!

Ever since I’ve felt slightly guilty at removing from this person – no fan of the Tories – the one ray of solace that they’d been nurturing up to that point: that we had a Foreign Secretary so passionate about grammar she’d written a best-selling book about it.

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2 thoughts on “Still my favourite political conversation about Liz Truss

  1. I confident we can find some current or former Tory ministers with passionate positions on grammar if it would make them feel better.
    (If I was writting one of those silly ‘grammar ground rules’ memos to a department that had the misfortune to be run by me it would simply read “If you’re not confident what the difference between e.g. and i.e. is then it would better to say what you mean in words, than to rely on latin acryonms.”)

    1. I have mixed views on those ground rules memos.

      – On the one hand, it’s important government documents (including correspondence and so on) are grammatically accurate and have correct spelling – and ever since they abolished the basic literacy and numeracy tests on ‘diversity’ grounds, one sadly can’t count on this.
      – On the other hand, it’s clearly silly for a minister to care more about whether there’s a split infinitive in a submission than the quality of advice.
      – Back on the first hand, if a letter or speech is going out in a minister’s name, it’s reasonable for them to want it in their style and if that style includes not having split infinitives in the letter because they wouldn’t use split infinitives themselves, that’s fair enough.

      When the press reports on these memos it doesn’t usually distinguish between these three cases.

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