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Equalities minister Liz Truss gave a speech so ‘bonkers’ that the government has been forced to redact it

Emma Powys Maurice December 18, 2020
Liz Truss

Equalities minister Liz Truss. (David Cliff/NurPhoto/Getty)

Equalities minister Liz Truss gave a speech so “bonkers” that parts of it have been redacted from the government website amid concerns over its content.

At a think tank on Thursday (17 December), Truss declared she wants to pivot away from “fashionable” issues of race, sexuality and gender as she sets out a “new approach to equality in this country”.

Describing what she sees as the “failed ideas of the Left,” Truss said the focus on protected groups has led to a “narrowing” of the equality debate which overlooks issues affecting the white working classes.

Critics were baffled as she claimed that the result of this thinking saw children in her class at school left unable to read or write because too much time was taken up learning about discrimination.

“While we were taught about racism and sexism, there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write,” she said.

“These ideas have their roots in postmodernist philosophy – pioneered by Foucault – that puts societal power structures and labels ahead of individuals and their endeavours.

“In this school of thought, there is no space for evidence, as there is no objective view – truth and morality are all relative.

“Rather than promote policies that would have been a game-changer for the disenfranchised like better education and business opportunities, there was a preference for symbolic gestures.”

This passage was among several large swathes that were cut from the government website on Friday (18 December), a day after the speech had been uploaded in full.

The missing lines have been replaced with a note saying that “political content” had been redacted.

Officials told the Independent that the political elements of the speech attacking “the failed ideas of the Left” had been uploaded in error. Government resources are not supposed to be used for political campaigning and parts of speeches that cross into this territory are usually left off departmental websites.

Critics slam bizarre Liz Truss speech

Liberal Democrat deputy leader and education spokesperson Daisy Cooper was among the many who skewered Truss’ speech, calling it “absolutely bonkers”.

“To suggest that schools had to cut back on reading and writing in the 80s to teach children about the deep inequalities in our society is both absurd and deeply irresponsible,” she said.

“Rather than trying to stoke up another culture war, the Conservative government should give our schools the funding, flexibility and COVID testing support they need, before our young people become a lost generation on their watch.”

Labour shadow cabinet DWP secretary Jonathan Reynolds agreed: “I also went to a (not great) comprehensive school in the 1980s and the idea people were getting taught about racism rather than to read and write is absurd. Unless there was something very specific going on in Leeds I doubt this stands up at all.”

Others on focused on the minister’s appalling misinterpretation of the works of Foucault, to the extent that the philosopher’s name began trending on Twitter.

“Hi Liz Truss!” tweeted Dr Matt Lodder, a senior university lecturer. “I teach Foucault but seemed to have missed these newly uncovered writings of his to which you must be referring. Could you cite where Foucault says this? I’d love to update my students’ reading lists.”

 

 

 

More: equalities minister, liz truss, Michel Foucault, Tory

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