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Liz Truss’ equalities speech removed from government site over Foucault reference

International trade secretary Liz Truss on Politics Live - Credit: BBC

Sections of Liz Truss’ speech on inequality and discrimination in Britain has been removed from the government’s website.

Critics have labelled the speech “bonkers” after the Tory minister claimed pupils at her school were unable to read or write because too much had been taken up learning about racism and sexism.



Truss went to school in Leeds under Margaret Thatcher’s government.

After appearing in full yesterday on gov.uk, by Friday lunchtime large swathes of the speech had been cut and replaced with a note saying that “political content” had been redacted.

MORE: Liz Truss criticised after describing gender and race equalities debate as ‘fashionable’

One redacted passage referred to a rant about French philosopher Michel Foucault. It read: “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 postmodernist philosophy – pioneered by Foucault – that puts 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.”

MORE: Department run by women and equalities minister has ‘significantly widening’ gender pay gap problem, new figures reveal

Officials have said the elements attacking Foucault and the “failed ideas of the Left” had been uploaded by accident. 

Government resources are not allowed to be used for political campaigning.

A spokesperson for the Government Equalities Office told The Independent: “We are aware of the issue and have now updated gov.uk.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader and education spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: “Liz Truss’s speech was utterly bonkers.

“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.”

Labour shadow cabinet DWP secretary Jonathan Reynolds commented: “I also went to a (not great) comprehensive school in the 1980s and the idea people were getting taught about racism rather than to read and write is absurd. Unless there was something very specific going on in Leeds I doubt this stands up at all.”

Kamram Abbasi, who attended a comprehensive in Yorkshire during the 1980s, wrote on Twitter: “I don’t recognise this nonsensical depiction. I never heard a word uttered about racism or sexism even though many of us experienced daily abuse and discrimination.”

Another said: “Liz Truss is 45 years old. She lived under Tory governments from age 4 to 22. By the time she was at secondary school, they were imposing a National Curriculum. But, y’know, Michel Foucault got her anyway, the b*****d.”

Another posted: “A woman who went to Oxford from a Leeds Comprehensive wonders why Leeds Comprehensives didn’t teach pupils to read and write. Run that past me again, Liz.”

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