The MP Interview: Elizabeth Truss

On Margaret Thatcher, the importance of religion, and becoming Prime Minister.

Elizabeth Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk.
Elizabeth Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk.

What made you go into politics?
My mother was active in politics, she was involved in the CND in the 1980s and used to take us along on marches and camps. I got interested in the way things worked. I also remember being very frustrated at what went on at my high school. Lots of lip service but students weren’t pushed as they could have been and there was wasted talent.
 
What job did you do before you became an MP?
When I left university I got a job with Shell on their graduate scheme. One of my roles was as a commercial manager for liquid natural gas shipping,  project economics and contract negotiation. I was then in sales at Cable and Wireless. After fighting a seat at the 2005 election, I became Deputy Director of the think tank Reform.
 
Which law would you scrap?
The law that created the exam board system and OfQual. I think it needs to be completely reformed and universities put in charge of exam standards.
 
And if you could pass one law, what would it be?
A Childcare Act – reforming the structure and funding of childcare. I think we could get much better value for money for what we spend and many parents struggle with high costs and lack of flexibility at the moment.
 
Do politics and religion mix?
Yes. Beliefs and ideas are important to both.
 
Who is your favourite prime minister from history, and why?
Margaret Thatcher. She’s an icon and made us feel proud of our country.
 
Name three dream dinner-party guests.
I think Mick Jagger, David Lynch and Angela Merkel would make an interesting mix.
 
Which politician from a different party do you most admire?
I admire Peter Mandleson’s chutzpah and the way he transformed the Labour party but not his dubious ideas about Europe and industrial policy.
 
What’s your karaoke song of choice?
"Common People" by Pulp.
 
What’s the last film you saw?
Headhunters, based on the book by Jo Nesbo.
 
What’s the last work of fiction you read?
I'm reading Money by Martin Amis at the moment
 
Newsnight or Question Time?
Newsnight. I’m a big fan of political editor Allegra Stratton.
 
Humphrys or Paxman?
Paxman – I’ve never been interviewed by Humphrys.
 
Who is your favourite blogger?
ConservativeHome. Tim Montgomerie. And Paul Goodman's creation Prufrock is a backbench MP I am always interested in.
 
Who is your favourite newspaper columnist?
James Forsyth – he's always got something interesting and amusing to say.
 
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
Parliament should start earlier in the day and finish earlier. Otherwise I love it.
 
What’s the funniest or saddest thing you’ve ever heard at a surgery?
Some very funny things have happened but they are top secret.
 
What was your worst doorstep campaigning moment?
30 April 1997.
 
Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
My husband and children.
 
Do you think you will ever be prime minister – and if not, why not?
I’m more interested in getting things done than being someone.