Liz Truss: 'People surprised to see me on doorstep'

By Clare WordenBBC West Norfolk Reporter

BBC Liz Truss standing by Emneth Church in West Norfolk BBC

Liz Truss is running as a candidate for South West Norfolk for the Conservative Party

Liz Truss is accompanied by two close protection officers as she arrives in a BMW with tinted windows.

The former prime minister, and the prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, has come to the village of Emneth to knock on doors.

“I think some people are surprised to see me or shocked just because I do have a national profile,” she says.

“But I think people appreciate a candidate coming round and knocking on their door. Today we’ve been out in the rain and there’s a bit of sympathy when it is really wet.”

Ms Truss is unapologetic when asked if her record as Britain’s shortest serving prime minister will count against her in the general election.

She stepped down after just 49 days, when her mini-budget caused turmoil in the financial markets.

When asked if her time in that job could threaten her political future, Ms Truss says she still has the public’s support.

“What I hear is people who say they supported what I was trying to do. And they do want to see lower taxes. They do want to see less bureaucracy in Britain and less red tape and that’s the agenda I continue to fight on.”

Candidates contesting the South West Norfolk seat, held for the past 14 years by Ms Truss, say her record will be a factor in the result.

The constituency covers Thetford in the south, through Swaffham along to Downham Market and ends just before Wisbech.

In 2019, Ms Truss won with a majority of 26,195 after a collapse in the Labour vote.

There were five candidates in that race. The forthcoming election will be contested by nine.

Labour candidate for South West Norfolk Terry Jermy standing outside of the Charles Burrell centre in Thetford

Labour candidate for South West Norfolk Terry Jermy

Labour candidate Terry Jermy is a town councillor in Thetford. He says the performance of Ms Truss is something that has been coming up on the doorstep.

“The message is clear that people are actually really disappointed and frustrated in Liz Truss’s performance as our MP. They want someone who is local who is focused on the issues that matter to them,” he says.

Mr Jermy says improving health services would be his first priority if he was elected as MP.

“Wherever you look in South West Norfolk, whether that’s GP services, dentistry, mental health services or hospital provision, people are fed up with services being broken. I’ve been focused on campaigning to improve them and that message has really resonated with people.”

Independent candidate for South West Norfolk James Bagge standing by a blue branded mini-van

James Bagge is standing as an Independent in the election

Another candidate hoping to beat Ms Truss in the poll is Independent James Bagge.

The barrister and former High Sheriff of Norfolk says it could be “one of the biggest election upsets of all time”.

“Not being attached to a party is very helpful because people do tend to wake up a bit particularly if you mention the word Truss.

“The key issues for me are, of course, the provision of primary care in the health service. Then education – I am really worried about the schools in this area. We suffer from some of the highest exclusion rates in the country. And of course potholes.”

Candidate for South West Norfolk for the Lib Dems Josie Radcliffe standing in beautiful Norfolk countryside

Candidate for South West Norfolk for the Lib Dems Josie Radcliffe

Josie Radcliffe, the candidate for the Lib Dems, is a veteran of the 2019 vote. The borough councillor who lives in Stow Bardolph says Ms Truss has been a disappointing local MP, spending too much time in London.

“Liz Truss is now being seen more in the constituency. To just turn up in the last few weeks before a general election is noticeable,” she says.

Ms Radcliffe says voters want improvements to local health services.

“People struggle to get a GP appointment and, of course, trying to see a dentist in Norfolk is almost impossible, even to get children’s teeth looked at people are having to register with a dentist outside of Norfolk.

“It’s shocking the way that service has been allowed to deteriorate. We don’t actually have a hospital in this constituency but we use the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn which has the unfortunate status of being the most propped hospital in the country,” she adds.

GP Pallavi Devulapalli is standing in South West Norfolk for the Green Party. She is sitting in her consulting room wearing a light pink jacket.

GP Pallavi Devulapalli is standing in South West Norfolk for the Green Party

As well as being a GP and local councillor, Pallavi Devulapalli is the Green Party’s national spokesperson on health.

She is hopeful that people will vote for change.

“I am a politician because I am an optimist,” she says. “I just think we can do so much better than what we are doing currently.

“I speak to people a lot in my day job as a GP but also as a councillor. Everywhere I go I see people who are kind, tolerant, intelligent and they understand what they need and they understand what the country needs.

“And I don’t think they’re being represented well enough. They should have leaders who are honest and brave and actually willing to put their shoulder to the wheel and make the changes that are needed.”

Toby McKenzie is representing the Reform Party in South West Norfolk pictured sitting in a red chair

Toby McKenzie is representing the Reform Party in South West Norfolk

A new party standing for the first time in South West Norfolk is Reform. Their candidate is former teacher Toby McKenzie.

Mr McKenzie says it is a great boost to the party that Nigel Farage is standing in Clacton, adding that he had 30 new membership requests the morning after it was confirmed.

He says he is standing because he is worried about his children’s future.

“They’re doing their GCSE’s at the moment. I want them to be able to have a job where they don’t have to pay income tax up until £20,000, which I think is a huge policy.

“I want them to be able to own a petrol or diesel car. I’d like them to be able to afford to rent a house, let alone buy one. I’d like them to be able to see a doctor you know.”

Also on the ballot paper are Gary Conway representing the Heritage Party, Lorraine Douglas from the Communist Party of Great Britain and Earl Elvis of East Anglia for the Monster Raving Loony Party.

A full list of candidates can be found here.


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