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By Simon Burns
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Parts Of A "Bonkers" Liz Truss Speech On Equality Were Erased From The Government's Website

Parts Of A 'Bonkers' Liz Truss Speech On Equality Were Erased From The Government's Website

Liz Truss delivered a speech on equality which has since been redacted from the government's official website (PA)

5 min read

"Provocative" sections of a controversial speech by Liz Truss on equality were deleted from the version uploaded to their official website for being too political.

The women and equalities minister gave a speech yesterday detailing how she would overhaul the breif to move focus away from "fashionable" issued of race and gender, to instead focus on economic inequalities. 

In her address she claimed that when she was at school, her teachers had spent too much time focusing on racism and sexism, and “there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write”.

The speech was labelled as “bonkers” and “gratuitous provocation” by opposition parties, and criticised by campaign groups.

The full text of the lecture, delivered at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, had originally been uploaded to the gov.uk site last night.

But this lunchtime large swathes of it, including the section about her school days labelled "the failed ideas of the Left”, had been erased and replaced with the phrase “[political content]”.

She had told an audience yesterday: “As a comprehensive school student in Leeds in the 1980s, I was struck by the lip service that was paid to equality by the City Council while children from disadvantaged backgrounds were let down.

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

“These ideas have their roots in post-modernist philosophy – pioneered by Foucault - that put 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.”

Other sections referring to the work of the Conservative party on equality issues and attacking Birmingham City Council naming new streets “Diversity Grove” and “Equality Road” were also redacted.

As the government website is not meant to be used for political campaigning, those parts of the speech are believed to have been uploaded in error, and officials are said to be reviewing their processes.

A spokesperson for the Government Equalities Office said: "We are aware of the issue and have now updated gov.uk."

But the speech, titled ‘The New Fight For Fairness’, was labelled “utterly bonkers” by the Liberal Democrat deputy leader and education spokesperson Daisy Cooper.

She said: "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.

"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.”

Elsewhere in the speech Ms Truss argued that tackling inequality should be "led by facts not by fashion”, and said the government intends to "move well beyond the narrow focus" of protected characteristics, which are defined in law as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Labour's shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said: "This is gratuitous provocation from a Government that consistently refuses to face up to its responsibilities and the widening inequality it has caused.

"When Liz Truss dismisses 'fashionable' causes she actually dismisses the devastating impact of discrimination and unfairness in people's day-to-day lives.

"It is laughable for the Conservatives to claim to care about class when they have frozen public sector pay, driven up poverty, and plan to cut Universal Credit and impose a council tax rise.”

And race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust has written to the Prime Minister in response to the minister’s words, saying “Racial inequalities impact people from cradle till grave, it has nothing to do with ‘fashion’.”

The letter, sent on behalf of the Coalition of Race Equality Organisations, said: “We urge the government not to diminish the very real evidence of racism, hate crime and discrimination throughout society, and to dismiss a focus on these issues as ‘fashionable’.

“To do so belittles the daily reality faced by BME groups across the country.”

Nancy Kelley, chief executive of LGBT charity Stonewall, said: "We can't separate experiences of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and racism from socio-economic status and geographic location.

"To tackle one, we need to tackle the others."

And Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said Ms Truss was "presenting a false choice".

"Ministers must both tackle the barriers facing today's diverse working class, and act to end the additional discrimination and disadvantage affecting BME, women and disabled workers," she said.

Asked about Ms Truss suggesting the government will focus on tackling class-based inequality over racial and sex-based inequality, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said yesterday: "I don't believe there's a suggestion that we will stop focusing on those issues that you just mentioned.

"Evidence shows however that racial disparities are often complex and affected by a range of factors including geography and age so we will be addressing those core issues that will benefit everyone as well.”

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