Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Former high sheriff of Norfolk and ‘Turnip Taliban’ member James Bagge reveals intention to stand as Independent candidate in challenge to Liz Truss for South West Norfolk constituency

A former high sheriff of Norfolk and member of the so-called ‘Turnip Taliban’ has revealed his intention to stand against Liz Truss at the next general election.

James Bagge, 71, has quit as a deputy lieutenant for the county to pursue his political campaign so he can stand as an independent candidate for the South West Norfolk constituency.

Mr Bagge said he has been “disappointed and unimpressed” by the “lack of attention” former Prime Minister Ms Truss has given to the area’s constituents during her 14 years as MP.

James Bagge is looking to challenge Liz Truss in the next general election
James Bagge is looking to challenge Liz Truss in the next general election

He also said he wants to put the record straight that the ‘Turnip Taliban’ label – referring to Tories in South West Norfolk who voted against Ms Truss becoming Conservative MP back in 2009 – was not of his choosing.

Nonetheless, Mr Bagge pointed to the Daily Star’s live stream during Ms Truss’s time as PM as he said: “A turnip has deeper roots than a lettuce.”

As South West Norfolk has traditionally been a Tory safe seat – which the former PM retained in 2019 with a 26,000-vote majority – Mr Bagge said he is aware of the challenge he faces to swing the vote, but he remains “undaunted”.

James Bagge pictured while in the role of high sheriff of Norfolk in 2018
James Bagge pictured while in the role of high sheriff of Norfolk in 2018

“I have been both disappointed and unimpressed by the lack of attention our current MP has given to the interests of the constituency here in South West Norfolk over the last 14 years and by her failure to engage in a real way with the challenges that confront its constituents,” he said.

Mr Bagge – who was born and bred and now lives permanently in West Norfolk – served in the army for four years in the 70s in Cyprus, Northern Ireland, mainland UK and in Australia as aide to Sir Mark Oliphant, Governor of South Australia.

He qualified as a barrister in 1979 and practised at the Criminal Bar for eight years, before retiring from full-time practice in 2010.

His CV also includes his work as a consultant for the Central Bank of Ireland for five years; and he also co-founded and is currently the chairman of Bvalco, a consultancy specialising in the effectiveness reviews of boards of public companies.

Liz Truss has been South West Norfolk MP since 2009
Liz Truss has been South West Norfolk MP since 2009

Mr Bagge – whose family owns the Elizabethan manor house Stradsett Hall – was appointed high sheriff of Norfolk in 2017 and as a deputy lieutenant in 2020, a role from which he has now resigned.

He has also served as a volunteer adviser for Norfolk Citizens Advice, became a Love West Norfolk ambassador in 2019, and raised £130,000 for unpaid carers and other Norfolk charities, thanks to a series of walks including a 1,500-mile trek from the county to Santiago di Compostela in 2018.

Turning his attention now to politics, Mr Bagge will be running a series of public meetings across the constituency over the next few weeks, to gauge the local reaction to his candidacy.

He said a first meeting at the end of 2023 was attended by 20 residents who “put him through his paces” on both local and national issues.

“I am seeking people’s views on their expectations of their MP, whether these are being met currently, and whether they would like to be offered the choice of an independent and fully committed candidate at the next election,” Mr Bagge said.

“The first of my public meetings, dealing with a range of local and national topics including immigration and the Rwanda scheme, health and social care, education – school exclusions are a huge problem in the area – and Brexit, encourages me to believe that I can confidently offer myself to constituents as their representative in Westminster.

“I am someone who would be dedicated to addressing their issues at all levels of government, both local and national.”

Mr Bagge said he would stand in the next general election – which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated would be called in the latter part of the year – if he had the backing of the South West Norfolk constituents.

“With the necessary level of support, I will stand as an independent and, instead of constantly being whipped through the lobby at Westminster, will use my time as best suits my constituents’ interests,” he added.

“I will be free to speak and free to act. I will focus on matters that impact most directly on our lives, and on government policies and decisions that affect our local Norfolk community.”

Mr Bagge’s public meetings will be advertised on his website – which is emblazoned with the words ‘Should I Stand?’ – and social media channels, and are free to attend.

Ms Truss declined to comment.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More