Sajid Javid: "I was a Thatcherite long before I was a Conservative"
Sajid Javid has been promoted to replace the hapless Maria Miller as Secretary of State for
Being steeped in the Economist, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, it is not immediately clear what Mr Javid knows about the Arts or Culture. But it can't be less than Mrs Miller, and His Grace welcomes this appointment wholeheartedly.
This son of a Pakistani bus-driver is by far among the most talented of the 2010 intake, and a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher, who is his political inspiration. A portrait of her hung on his office wall in the Treasury: doubtless it will now be transported to the DCMS. Importantly, unlike Baroness Warsi, his meteoric rise is meritocratic. He studied economics and politics at Exeter University, and was the first member of his family to go to university. This, he says, is the root of his 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 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 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.”For those who are interested (which will doubtless be one or two upon His Grace's august blog), Mr Javid is proud of his Muslim-Pakistani background, but he himself is not remotely religious. He doesn't worship in a mosque, read the Qur'an or observe Ramadan. Ergo, he is not a practising Muslim, any more than Christians who do not attend church, read the Bible (or, some might add, observe Lent) are practising Christians. One may certainly believe without belonging, and be culturally affiliated without practising. But the only religion observed in his home is Christianity (his wife is Christian), and he is of the view that immigrants should adapt to British culture - respecting its distinctly Christian heritage and traditions.
Some are offended that David Cameron has appointed an Asian as guardian of British Culture. They clearly have no understanding of the nature of conservatism, no apprehension of British-Asian values and no appreciation of what drives Sajid Javid. He is a small-state, low-tax, regulation-cutting, patriotic, meritocratic Thatcherite: his political values are hers. All that we know of him culturally is that his favourite film is the Christian allegory It's A Wonderful Life, and his favourite music is the Christian rock band U2. He'll now need to take in a bit of Shakespeare and a few Proms, at least.
As His Grace wrote when Aaqil Ahmed became the first Asian/Muslim to lead the BBC's Religion & Ethics department, those who object - on either religious or racial grounds - to the appointment of immigrants or the children of immigrants to these influential offices of state might pause to reflect on what has become of them under Anglo-Saxon Christian types. The quality of the Christian output of the BBC deteriorated markedly under a Methodist and a Roman Catholic; indeed, between them they reduced the Faith to a toothless myth. Maria Miller's advocacy for the illiberal and thoroughly anti-British state regulation of the press and her insensitive handling of same-sex marriage eclipse everything else she accomplished while she was in office.
So, why not let the first deserving Asian to be appointed to the Cabinet have a go at redeeming the situation?