Liz Truss as you have never seen her before

If it hadn’t been for one of our peers moving house, we might never have had this wee gem fall into our hands.

We know that new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Liz Truss was once a young Liberal Democrat activist before joining the Tories. However, we now have photographic evidence from an LDYS newsletter from the time of one Elizabeth Truss proudly holding up the LDYS banner on a mass trespass at Twyford Down in protest at the Criminal Justice Bill on 2 July 1994. Simon Hughes also took part.

This controversial piece of legislation was introduced by Conservative Home Secretary Michael Howard and offended liberals by restricting raves, allowing inferences to be drawn from a suspect exercising a right to silence and strengthening unsupervised stop and search powers. Those latter powers were still being used until the Coalition years, when their use was curbed thanks to the influence of Liberal Democrats in government.
Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 14.34.11


Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 14.36.44The newsletter savaged the Liberal Democrat opposition to the Bill in the Commons. Then Home Affairs spokesperson Robert Maclennan was criticised for “shamefully” supporting attacks on hunt saboteurs for not going far enough and Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs were told that their opposition was feeble. The Lords, on the other hand, inflicted four defeats on the Government’s proposals.

This is a wonderful piece of history. It’s good to see that the person in charge of justice in England has had her own history of peaceful protest at utterly illiberal measures.  Let’s hope that these early instincts inform her actions in office.

Martin Thomas, who passed us the picture, asked, with his tongue firmly in his cheek:

Are we at last at a new Liberal dawn in the Ministry of Justice, as our sleeper takes over from Grayling and Gove?

Also worthy of comment is that LDYS were proper insurgents back in those days. They didn’t mince their words. One of the songs often sung at the raucous end of Conference singalong, the Glee Club, is “The week we went to Brighton.” It’s basically about the 1994 youth organisation and how it annoyed Paddy Ashdown by putting down motions calling for the monarchy to be abolished and for the legalisation of Cannabis. Neither of these things seem quite so radical now, although only one has any public support and chance of becoming a reality in the near future.

Those were the days…




* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Wow, it’s a long time since I saw Liz Truss like that.

    Or, for that matter, Kiron Reid with that much hair.

  • Liberal Neil 27th Jul '16 - 3:54pm

    Happy days. Liz was very much the radical protestor in those days. We also did some direct action against the M11 extension around that time too.

    IIRC the cannabis motion was put down by someone else and LDYS just supported them.

    Allegedly the party hierarchy were particularly annoyed by the slightly amended party logo used on LDYS leaflets during that conference. It featured Lobby complete with spliff. Goodness knows whose idea that was 😉

  • Those were the days. I think Liz still has some liberal instincts. I’m hopeful…. And tbf you often get more liberal measures from tories than labour in this field. Certainly in more recent times. Kiron looks great with all that hair…. Haha

  • Liz was just outside my house in January saying how the flood defences would be repaired “as a matter of urgency”. Lets just say she uses a different definition of urgent….

  • We all make mistakes when we’re kids.

  • In fact it is Liz Truss as I have seen her before as I took the photo 🙂

  • Richard Renaut 27th Jul '16 - 8:59pm

    I’m fairly certain she voted for both the cannabis and abolishing the monarchy…happy days!

  • Rob, you are a true hero! Thank you! Did you ever think that one day she’d be a Tory Cabinet Minister?

  • Hi Caron – at the time, in fairness, probably not 🙂

  • “tbf you often get more liberal measures from Tories than labour” – this is true and I often wonder why Liberal Democrat MPs aren’t as bothered as they should be re. freedom of expression, freedom of speech, civil liberties, surveillance society, freedom of conscience… issues and regarding quangos, cronyism and democratic deficits..?

  • 1994 Cannabis motion was proposed by Saffron Walden.

  • John CN That’s a very strange comment given that Lib Dem MPs have always emphasised these issues.

  • That newsletter is terribly written.

    “Robert Maclennan shamefully supported the attacks on hunt saboteurs (he didn’t think they went far enough)”

    What does that mean?

    – there were some hunt saboteurs, they were physically assaulted. Robert Maclennan felt the physical assaults should have been more severe.
    – there were some hunt saboteurs, they were physically assaulted. Robert Maclennan felt the hunt saboteurs should have gone further in their sabotage and so felt they deserved it.
    – there were some hunt saboteurs, Robert Maclennan denounced them in parliament for not going far enough in their sabotage.
    – there were some hunt saboteurs, they were denounced in Parliament. Robert Maclennan then denounced their denouncers for not going far enough in their denouncement.

    And which of the two seemingly distinct actions was it that LDYS felt was shameful.

  • Neil – “Lobby complete with spliff”
    I know the tobacco industry has sometimes been accused of quiet lobbying for the day when cannabis is sold on the open market, but this must be a very early example encouraged by our youth section!?

  • Neil Sandison 28th Jul '16 - 4:57pm

    Do we know if Liz Truss inhaled ?

  • You will all be delighted to know that this post has made it into the weekly salacious gossip Popbitch email. Thanks to Jonathan Calder for telling me:-)

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