Liz Truss was widely perceived to have won last night’s LBC hustings with Rishi Sunak. The Foreign Secretary impressed with her tough talk on Putin, China and defeating Labour’s Keir Starmer. And she certainly knew how to play to the Leeds crowd, making the most of her upbringing in the area and dropping in plenty of local references. But it was her praise for the city’s most famous football manager which raised some eyebrows among the commentariat.
Truss told activists that: ‘I do want us to channel the spirit of Don Revie because we need to win.’ Revie, of course, presided over the all-conquering Leeds side of the 1960s and 1970s, winning trophies but earning criticism for his team’s perceived ‘dirty’ style of play. The Tory MP’s reference therefore sparked some surprise, with Foreign Office grandee Lord Fraser remarking on Revie’s unsuccessful subsequent career as head of the England football team: ‘Liz Truss perhaps forgets that Don Revie was not a successful national manager..’
Comedian Matt Forde asked whether the Tories will ‘do it by cheating’ while others wondered ‘when Liz Truss says she wants to channel Don Revie, does she mean take a load of money from Middle East billionaires?’ or by being ‘out of depth in the top job?’ But Steerpike’s favourite response was by Labour MP Chris Evans, who wrote a well-received biography of Revie late last year. He told Mr S:
As much as I love Don, he had a reputation for playing dirty, and had a disastrous time when put in charge of the country. So yes, I can see why Liz Truss thinks Revie is a good comparison to the Tories!
An own goal by Truss, perhaps?