Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Liz Truss - right to stand, wrong to win

A story that is exciting the interest of the Westminster-centric surrounds the right of Elizabeth Truss to stand as the Tory candidate for South West Norfolk. She was selected but then immediately the process began to de-select her after a number of local members claimed that they were deceived by her about a previous affair with a married Tory MP.

Last night she (very) successfully fought off the de-selection challenge

Iain Dale has led the charge in favour of her staying on in the position and I think he is right. Here's why:

I knew Liz Truss (as she styled herself then) back when she was a member of the Lib Dems and involved in the Lib Dem Youth and Students - as was I. I didn't find her the easiest person to get on with. Alex Wilcock has his own take on this and he writes far better than me, so go there to find out more.

Liz's affair with Mark Field was well publicised at the time. She claims that she mentioned it in her initial application and believed that this information would be passed along during the selection process. I see no reason to disbelieve her but it really doesn't matter.

What goes on in a person's private life is just that - private. A right to a private life is guaranteed in the Human Rights Act - even in the Tory version. Unless, it appears, you are a politician.

Should there be a different standard for politicians? Possibly yes. In cases where a person is blatantly hypocritical then there is a public interest defence to exposing this. But there is nothing of the kind here. Assuming Liz does not try to put 'family values' at the forefront of her selection or election campaign then there is no hypocrisy and so no case to answer.

Clearly the likes of Sir Jeremy Bagge and others in the SW Norfolk Conservative Association believe something different. The question arises - should we now judge him by his own standards. I would assume that he is not a hypocrite and certainly do not level that charge against him. So presumably he would view questions about his own family life as being legitimate.

All that said, I very much hope that Liz Truss fails to be elected to Parliament. Not because she is wrong to stand, but because her policies are wrong for the country. That is the basis on which this issue should be judged.

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