Former prime minister Liz Truss has hit out at the Daily Star after it ran a competition last year to see if a ‘wet lettuce’ would last longer than her stay in the top job at No.10.
The leafy salad vegetable, of the iceberg variety and costing 60p from Tesco, ultimately outlasted hapless Truss. Her reign was restricted to a paltry 49 days before she was driven out of office, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in history.
But the tabloid’s attempt at humour was described as “puerile” by the South West Norfolk Conservative MP who has been critical of the British media’s approach to politics and politicians. Speaking at the News Xchange conference in Dublin on Monday (June 19), Truss said: “I don’t think that’s particularly funny. I just think it’s puerile.”
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She was also not best pleased at being accused of copying Margaret Thatcher’s dress sense – that was “not something I have ever consciously sought to do at all” – suggesting that journalists should focus on reporting serious news, not what clothes they are wearing, accusing them of maintaining some sort of “soap opera” narrative.
“There’s too much focus on the people and seeing it as a sort of entertaining story to follow – a kind of soap opera, rather than discussions of the ideas, and I particularly find that true on economics,” she said. “I think the level of understanding of economic ideas in the media, and the ability to explain them, is very poor indeed.”
She added: “It’s frustrating because I came into politics as I wanted to change the country. I want to push particular ideas.
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“And it is frustrating when you get diverted onto a discussion of what hat you’re wearing, or whether you like photographs, all this other stuff, rather than one of the crucial issues that are affecting Britain, Europe, Ireland and the US.
“I do think, sometimes, politics is sort of treated as a branch of the entertainment industry. Who’s up, who’s down, who says what about who – it’s a bit playground when there are really serious issues going on.”
She also argued that following politicians around “shouting things” at them is “not really journalism”, while the British media is “known throughout the world for being particularly vociferous” and is not “particularly deferential to politicians”. But she did also reveal that she thinks “robust debate” represents “a good thing overall”.
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