‘What a wonderful display of onions’: The bizarre world of Liz Truss MP

‘What a wonderful display of onions’: The bizarre world of Liz Truss MP
Liz Truss, whether she likes it or not, is fast becoming a cult figure in UK politics. The Treasury minister is amusing the public with her bizarre speeches and tweets, invariably focused on food and the British countryside.

Truss, whose produce obsession seemingly began when she was secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, first came to prominence in 2014 during the usually sedate Tory conference.

Recently appointed in her role, Truss attempted a light-hearted speech. Initially she got the crowd onside, telling them of her right-wing “rebellion” against her left-wing upbringing and the political rejection of her CND-supporting mother.

Wide-eyed and with a permanent grin, Truss plowed on by listing the UK’s agricultural achievements. The crowd’s awkward silence and Truss’ arbitrary laughing followed each boast, and her performance screamed of media training gone wrong.

The icing on the cake came as the speech drew to an end. Dropping her smile for a snarl, Truss’ sunny demeanor evaporated, as she stared straight ahead and denounced the fact that the UK imported two-thirds of its cheese as a “disgrace.”

Much like Prime Minister Theresa May would do several years later during her disastrous address, Truss had done the unthinkable: made a memorable Tory party conference speech. While the mainly elderly Tory conference audience may not recall the speech, Truss’ ‘cheese speech’ – as it became known – found a second life on YouTube, garnering hundreds of thousands of views and spawning endless parodies.

The following year, again at the Tory conference, Truss further courted parody when she called for children to start using the “proper English names” for animals, during a BBC News interview. The minister took umbrage with children’s use of “ba sheep” or “mo cow,” though she conceded that “oink pig” might be OK.  

Ignoring the Beeb journalists’ mocking tone and clearly believing she was onto something, the minister used her speech to double down on her animal name campaign, implying that the idea was a rational policy proposal by an adult tasked with governing millions of people and not a prank or piece of avant-garde theater.

She concluded her by now unmissable annual conference speech with a call for kids to be “climbing trees, not climbing the walls.” Truss’ signature awkward silence, this time shared by her colleagues in the audience, followed.

Despite her new treasury brief, Truss’ obsession with the great British outdoors shows no sign of abating. In-between tweets of Westminster sunsets, “whopper swans” and posts calling to “liberate farmers,” Truss turned back the years and used the hashtag “#megabantz#” after being reminded by a colleague of her infamous cheese quotes.

Later on Tuesday, Truss was compelled to tweet another gem, hailing a display of onions laid out in Westminster’s Caxton Street.

While many accuse politicians of being boring, Truss, whether it be by accident or design, has become one of the most entertaining things in Parliament this side of the Michael Fabricant toupee. Never change, Liz.

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