Coffee House

Sajid Javid: How I became a Conservative

9 April 2014

11:44 AM

9 April 2014

11:44 AM

Although I joined the Conservative Party during my time at Exeter University, it was my upbringing and early life that shaped my political consciousness.

Abdul-Ghani Javid (or, as he was known to me, Dad) arrived in the UK in 1961 at 23 years of age. His family lost everything during the partition of India and their move to Pakistan, so my father’s motivation was quite simple – he wanted to work in Britain and provide the means for his brothers back in Pakistan to be educated.

Disembarking at Heathrow with a £1 note in his pocket (which his father, touchingly but mistakenly, had said would see him through his first month in the UK), my father made his way up north and found a job in a Rochdale cotton mill.

Happy to be employed, he nevertheless strived for more. He set his sights on working on a bus, only to be turned away time and again.

But he didn’t give up. He persisted and was hired as a bus conductor, then a driver, earning the nickname ‘Mr Night & Day’ from his co-workers. After that came his own market stall, selling ladies clothes (many sewn by my mother at home) and, eventually, his own shop in Bristol.


My four brothers and I, all born in Rochdale, lived with my parents in the two-bedroom flat above our shop on Stapleton Road (which, although home to us, was later dubbed “Britain’s most dangerous street”).

This – along with our family breaks to visit cousins back in Rochdale and our biannual treat of hiring a VHS player for a weekend to binge on movies – might not fit everyone’s definition of success, but success is always relative. My parents achieved their aims – to help their immediate and extended families and to provide for and educate my brothers and me.

After attending state schools in Bristol, and being advised to start my working life by securing an apprenticeship, I decided to continue my academic education and won a place at Exeter University to study Economics and Politics, the first member of my family to go to university.

This is the root of my conservative beliefs. My mother and father had nothing and, like many people in their adopted country, worked their way up. All they had to rely on was their own drive and determination, a willingness to work hard, and the confidence to take risks in the hope of greater rewards.

There were, of course, ups and downs. But, whenever my parents were knocked down, in business or in anything else, they picked themselves up and started again. The abiding lesson was clear to me: don’t doubt yourself and don’t stop trying.

I saw my parents’ resolve pay off, and their sense of personal responsibility and self-development was instilled in my brothers and me. My parents and, through them, my brothers and I, flourished in the UK’s meritocracy in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.

I believe that what worked for my family and me works for everyone else in the UK. Encouraging everyone to be the best that they can be is the surest way to personal and national contentment and prosperity. That is why I am proud to be British and Conservative.

Sajid Javid is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove. This essay features in a collection by Conservative campaign group Renewal.

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Show comments
  • Irv Spielberg


    Here are some Bible verses that Pres. Obama avoids:
    Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”
    Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under “a servant who becomes king.”
    And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: “let thy words be few…a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
    Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!

  • Alexsandr

    Someone elsewhere suggested he looked like someone from Thunderbords. Yes -its the Hood

  • Hippograd

    His family lost everything during the partition of India and their move to Pakistan…

    Yes, the vibrant multi-cultural tapestry of India has led to a few problems, in terms of issues around inter-faith dialogue. Still, that sort of thing is all in the past, na? How fortunate for the UK that we are being guided by Pakistanis and other representatives of the Religion of Peace to the sunny uplands of prosperity, minority rights and corruption-free government. And we never even had to vote for this enrichment from overseas!

    A Christian couple in Pakistan have become the latest to be sentenced to death
    for blasphemy, after they were accused of sending a text message deemed
    insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. — Minority rights in Pakistan

    And let’s not forget what special skills Mr Javid’s vibrant community can bring to the table in terms of issues around raising the Tory vote in key community-enriched constituencies:

    The elections watchdog raised concerns about voter impersonation in Birmingham, where a judge condemned activities which he said would
    disgrace a “banana republic” following the exposure in 2004 of systemic
    postal voting fraud in two wards.

    It also named the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where a reporter for
    The Independent was beaten up while investigating allegations of voting
    irregularities during the 2010 general election campaign.

    The commission cited 14 other areas where there appears to be a higher risk
    of electoral fraud. They are: Blackburn, Bradford, Burnley, Calderdale,
    Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough,
    Slough, Walsall and Woking. — Spot the common factor

  • swatnan

    Thats the trouble with self made millionaires.

  • Colin56

    Nauseating, self-justifying apologia from a non-entity appointed to a non-job.

    • jack

      I thought it was sincere and reasonable.

  • Smithersjones2013

    But what does he know about Culture, Media and Sport?

    More patronising class and equality paranoia from the Tories…..

    • itdoesntaddup

      He believes that those who live in Britain should adopt British culture. That’s an important start.

  • dado_trunking

    Congratulations to the appointment.

    If as a matter of urgency the disparity of arts funding between capital and periphery was now addressed our support would be a lasting one.

  • Des Demona

    ”I decided to continue my academic education and won a place at Exeter University to study Economics and Politics, the first member of my family to go to university.”

    How’s that student loan going? Oh wait a minute you didn’t need one did you? Shame on labour for introducing them and shame on the coalition for tripling them.

    • Robert_Eve

      If people want to study for a degree then they should pay for the cost.

      • Des Demona

        They do. They pay £200k more in tax than non graduates over their working lives. Not to mention the increased wealth and jobs created by their increased spending power.
        Why do you want to penalise the wealth providers?

        • Justice4Rinka

          Because he hates and envies anyone harder working and more prosperous than himself.

        • jack

          You are implicitly acknowledging that there is some sort of debt or “social obligation” on the part of those who benefit by the British public system of higher education. You put the monetary price tag at about 180k british pounds for an advanced degree. So what is the harm if students are required to formally acknowledge this obligation at the time it is incurred? The mechanism is to charge fees for attending classes, and to simultaneously offer a long term loan on easy terms, so that paying the fees will never be an obstacle to matriculation. By signing the loan papers the students are formally acknowledging their “social debt”, The students cannot fool themselves into thinking that their education is provided for “free”, and that they have no obligation to society. In like fashion, the state is protected to some degree, even if a student fails to apply themselves at school, and even of they emigrate to apply their skills in other, competitive, societies. In this way, some of the disastrous consequences of the “brain drain” are mitigated.

    • El_Sid

      Student loans came in 1990/1, his last year at Exeter. You might be thinking of tuition fees, which are something completely different.

      • Des Demona

        Indeed I misspoke, thanks! Although as it was his last year would he have had to take one out?
        Still, treachery from Labour introducing tuition fees as far as I’m concerned.

        • jack

          Thats the spirit comrade! Better bankruptcy and ruin than to abandon good socialist principal. To each according to his needs.

          • Des Demona

            Bankruptcy and ruin? Got any figures to back that up or just trolling?

            • jack

              Dear Comrade: Have you forgotten the bread lines in Moscow? The pensioners in Leipzig begging for soup? Must we repeat the same experiment over and over? When will it sink trough your thick skull? A few years trying to live by running a small clothing store would cure Marx himself of remaining illusions about society.

              • Des Demona

                Ah ok just trolling, fair enough.

  • Daedalus

    It is not possible for anyone to disagree with a single word there is is it?
    Try your best get up and carry on when you have gone down and you can achieve in this country.


  • @PhilKean1

    Err, is he trying NOT to say –

    – that he is just another straight-from-Uni professional politician who has never had a real job?

    Unless I missed something in the article.

    • FB

      He had a long career in banking working at Deutsche Bank, and was the youngest ever Vice-President of Chase Manhatten – so in a word, no.

      • @PhilKean1

        That’ll teach me to speed-read.

        Apologies to him, and thanks to you.

      • Frank

        The youngest ever VP at Chase Manhattan is almost certainly bollocks. I seem to recall all my university contemporaries who went into American banks became VPs almost at once. As for working for Deutsche Bank, he got downsized in mid 2009 and appears to have got out with his cash pot intact, lucky.
        Having said the above, he has considerably more real world experience than most in the Cabinet (or the shadow cabinet).

    • Kitty MLB

      Phil, I believe he will also be responsible for the BBC. So a person with his
      financial background will be an excellent choice if that wretched organisation
      were to be reformed.