Who is the new Home Secretary?
Not everyone greeted with approval the arrival of Sajid Javid as Amber Rudd’s successor as Home Secretary. Lord Adonis tweeted a cartoon with a Javid-like figure sat at a desk saying: “I just want to settle in, get organised, then deport my parents!” Andrew Adonis’s ‘joke’ fell rather flat, not for the first time.
Javid, the MP for Bromsgrove, about 13 miles from Birmingham, is a vigorous Twitter user, tweeting that it was a “beautiful Bank Holiday”. The 49 year-old famously tells how his father arrived in Britain from Pakistan with just a pound in his pocket, and then – shades of Norman Tebbitt’s ‘on your bike’ – got a job as a bus drive in Rochdale. At his state school, he was advised by a teacher to try to get a job as a TV repair man but instead went to university, became an investment banker, and rose to become a board member of Deutsche Bank before becoming an MP.
He astutely ditched investment banking for politics in 2009, by which time he had enough money to campaign to become and MP and when banking was looking a long hard unpopular slog. In 2015 he attended the City A.M. awards dinner and told the (largely banker) audience that he didn’t see “parasites” before him but “talented, hard-working, dedicated men and women at the top of their game.”
A life-long ardent admirer of the books of Ayn Rand – and therefore suspected of embracing Rand’s rampant quasi-Nietzschean philosophy – it’s tempting to see his elevation to Home Secretary as symbolic of what admirers of Thatcherite politics want to assert was best about her views: poor immigrant makes good in an equal opportunity society.
On the TheyWorkForYou website, an objective measure of sorts of the voting history of MPs, Javid on 16 April 2013 is recorded as having voted to remove the duty on the “Commission for Equality and Human Rights to work to support the development of a society where people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination and there is respect for human rights.” He has voted 53 times in favour of reducing spending on welfare benefits and has “consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices.” As Housing Secretary he was accused of failing to spend vast sums that were allocated for affordable homes.
He obviously faces sorting out the Empire Windrush immigrants’ mess inherited from Amber Rudd, but he acted fast to fend off another looking media storm, by saying that Afghan interpreters who worked with British troops fighting the Taliban could stay in the UK for free; the £358,350 they were asked to pay by the Home Office was suddenly spirited away as if by magic.
What will he be like as Home Secretary? Likely to be populist, with an eye always on media unrest over issues that might topple him; hard-line when it comes to prisons and prisoners; demanding of civil servants who are perceived as soft. As a relatively young minister he may well be around for a long time – and ambitious for the top job which, as a Eurosceptic, might come quicker than imagined.