LIZ Truss has been accused of distorting accounts of her Northern childhood. Here the surely-this-is-a-joke leadership candidate recounts her impoverished upbringing.
7am. Get up. This was Yorkshire in the dark days of the 1980s, when Labour’s Harold Wilson was wrecking the country. In my family, we children slept one to a bed. It was terribly lonely. My only friend was a Speak and Spell.
7.20am. I go downstairs for breakfast. Spartan rations were the order of the day. A single glass of orange juice, cornflakes, two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, three slices of toast per person, and that was your lot. But we knew there were even poorer families who couldn’t afford fried mushrooms.
9am. Go to school in the Leeds ghetto of Roundhay. I was 12 years old but already aspirational and ready to deliver for Britain. I clearly remember saying: ‘Mrs Sheridan, I want to go to Oxford, like that weird maths girl on Wogan, and become prime minister at 15.’
Mrs Sheridan looked at me patronisingly, the way people do when I’m delivering an important speech about cheese. ‘Before you go to Oxford, maybe you should get out of remedial maths,’ she said. A typical socialist teacher, trying to crush gifted children’s ambition.
1pm. Lunch. We often had trifle for dessert, but delivered in equal portions to all children, regardless of how aspirational they were. This wasn’t a school, it was a socialist experiment.
3pm. Drama. The task is to dress up as your hero or heroine. I choose Margaret Thatcher, pussy bow and all. There are titters, even from the drama teacher, Mr Logan. I say: ‘You can laugh, but one day she’ll be Prime Minister, and then you’ll be sorry!’
Mr Logan takes me to one side and says, ‘Mrs Thatcher has been prime minister for several years, and yes, we are sorry.’ It’s indicative of the low standard of education I was receiving that I wasn’t aware of this already.
5pm. Homework time. They still haven’t managed to teach me my times tables properly. This is a disgrace. The teachers were all too quick to write off kids like me from a five-bedroom detached hovel in one of the most under-aspirational areas of Leeds.
What I’ve learned from my schooldays is that an exceptional child like me can overcome adversity. I’d love to see the look on my teachers’ faces when they find out I’m going to be prime minister. Probably disbelief, fear and confusion. It seems to have that effect on people.