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Liz Truss has adopted a noticeably deeper tone of voice and slower pace of delivery as she continues steps to imitate her hero Margaret Thatcher, one of Britain’s leading language experts told MailOnline today.
The Foreign Secretary has long been burnishing her credentials as the new Iron Lady – and this has coincided with her being favourite with the bookmakers and party members to succeed Boris Johnson.
Ms Truss has invited comparisons with the late Tory prime minister including by posing on a tank and wearing a fur coat and hat while visiting Moscow before crunch talks over Ukraine that saw Sergei Lavrov storm off. Photo ops with animals and even motorbikes also match up with pictures of Mrs Thatcher from the 1970s and 1980s.
Her recent speeches have also been more Thatcherite in tone, with repeated references to being proud of British culture and the values of freedom, democracy and human rights.
Language specialist Tony Thorne, from King’s College London, said Ms Truss’ decision to go lower and slower is designed to take her ‘seriously’ as a ‘female in a position of power’. But while this can improve her authority – it can also lack ‘feeling and empathy’, which Mrs Thatcher lacked until the end of her 11 years as PM.
Mr Thorne also pointed out the marked difference between the higher tones used by Thatcher and Truss earlier in their political careers before becoming senior MPs and cabinet ministers.
‘Her changes in intonation, voice quality and speed of delivery in both cases must reflect the same motivation: a female in a position of power – even today. thirty years on – may find it hard to be taken seriously unless she can persuade, cajole, even dominate’, he said.
Liz Truss (left) was mocked by Russian media for posing for pictures similar to those taken of Margaret Thatcher (right) during her visit to the country in 1987
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visits British troops on deployment to Estonia last November. Mrs Thatcher in one in Germany in 1983
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss holds a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 14, 2021. Memorial Ceremony at the Cenotaph in the presence of Margaret Thatcher in 1990
Cabinet tensions ramp up as Liz Truss urges ‘low tax’ response to cost-of-living crisis
Cabinet tensions ramped today as Liz Truss urged a ‘low tax’ response to the cost-of-living crisis and dismissed the idea of a windfall tax on energy firms.
The Foreign Secretary risked inflaming a growing Tory row by making clear she wanted to prioritise reducing the burden on families and businesses.
She also dodged on whether she had supported the national insurance hike, and cautioned that a one-off levy on the soaring profits of oil and gas giants would make it ‘difficult to attract future investment into our country’.
The comments came despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinting at a possible U-turn on a windfall tax – something that has been demanded by Labour.
Mr Sunak struck a different tone in the Commons yesterday, telling MPs: ‘We are pragmatic and what we want to see are energy companies who have made extraordinary profits at a time of acutely elevated prices investing those profits back into British jobs, growth and energy security.
‘But as I have been clear, and as I have said repeatedly, if that doesn’t happen soon and at significant scale then no option is off the table.’
Liz Truss’ first major attempt to channel Thatcher backfired in 2014 with a bizarre, stilted and comical speech about the ‘disgrace’ of importing foods.
She said: ‘At the moment, we import two-thirds of all of our apples. We import nine-tenths of all of our pears. We import two-thirds of our cheese. That is a disgrace’.
Expert say there has been a stark change in delivery since then, with a much slower and lower delivery.
Tony Thorne said: ‘In comparison with her original and presumably natural style she has lowered her voice, enunciates more slowly and speaks more loudly than previously. This is certainly intended to provide more gravitas, to ensure that, despite adverse comments on her performance, she is seen as confident and competent’.
He added: ‘Margaret Thatcher famously adapted her speaking style when she attained high office. She too lowered her voice and spoke more slowly, enunciating very carefully and giving very string empahsis to key words and phrases.
‘Again, the result may have succeeded in projecting a formidable, assertive persona, fully in control of her brief, but struck some as sounding pedantic or overbearing. Interestingly, the interviews she gave when she was about to step down were more reminiscent of her very first interviews in which a lighter voice hinted at depths of feeling and even empathy that was missing in the years of her ascendancy’.
Her speeches have also become more Thatcherite in tone.
In a speech to the Chatham House think-tank last Christmas, the Foreign Secretary said Britain’s diplomats should be ‘unleashed and empowered’ to promote ‘the best of British business, culture and values of freedom, democracy and human rights around the world’.
Liz Truss visited a Triumph motorcycle factory in Thailand. Margaret Thatcher on a police bike in 1978
Liz Truss posted this image on her Instagram page in 2019. Margaret Thatcher holding a calf while campaigning on a farm as PM
Ms Truss warned: ‘Rather than being racked with shame about our history and doubt about our future, it’s time for Britain to be proud once again of who we are and what we stand for’.
She added: ‘We need to believe in Britain and project the best of Britain to the world. I want us to be confident, outward-looking, patriotic and positive and to be proud of our great country.’
And it’s not just her language, it is he photo opportunities too.
Recently the Foreign Secretary posed for the tank photos on a visit to Estonia, where she warned Russian President Vladimir Putin it would be a ‘strategic mistake’ to invade Ukraine.
Mrs Thatcher – whom Ms Truss has frequently cited as an inspiration – was photographed in a British tank in West Germany on a visit to UK troops in 1986.
Ms Truss continues to top the party rankings for most popular Cabinet Minister, with a net satisfaction rating of 82.3 per cent.