Opinion

Taking a look at the Thatcherite beliefs of Sajid Javid, Vince Cable's replacement

7 min read

12 May 2015

It is said that Sajid Javid, who for the most part worked in the finance industry, benefited from Margaret Thatcher's Big Bang reforms. Skills gained from such experience will undoubtedly help him succeed in his new role.

Sajid Javid has a list of incredible credentials. He became the US bank Chase’s youngest vice president at the age of 25 and ran Deutsche Bank’s global credit trading office.

His success in the sector and rise up the ranks of the Conservative government has often been touted as a “rags to rich” story. In a 2013 interview, Javid suggested his father “touchingly but mistakenly” arrived in Britain in 1961 with a £5 note, which he believed would benefit them for a month.

“My father was terribly fed up and he made comments that were conservative without him really knowing it: if these people want to get paid more why don’t they work harder, aren’t they getting paid enough already, someone needs to sort them out,” he said. 

Javid suggested that it was his father’s that Margaret Thatcher was the one that could do it: he voted Conservative for the first time in 1979. 

His father’s vote, Javid claimed, got him “interested in Thatcher.”

He quickly rose up the political rankings to join the Treasury in 2012, before joining the department for culture, media and sport in 2013. 

Of Cameron’s plans to reshape Britain’s membership of the European Union, he said: “I would personally consider our options outside the EU.”

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Most of all, concerning tax, Javid is still a Thatcherite at heart. He has claimed he believes in a “smaller state”. “I believe in not just lower taxes but flatter taxes, simpler taxes,” he said.

He added: “I certainly believe in lower taxes. Economically, they are helpful in terms of the incentives they create. Also, I just think out of principle, it’s right that people get to keep more of the money that they actually earn themselves. I’ve always been a low tax Conservative. I think that when it comes to future tax cuts, they have to go together with the other objective we have, which is a lower deficit.”

Javid has helped to found the Free Enterprise Group, the premises of which is to call for a smaller government and less business regulation. 

Having recently taken over as business secretary from the departing Vince Cable, this type of support will undoubtedly be an asset in arguably Javid’s first task as business secretary, which is to acting on behalf of the UK in the negotiations between Europe and the US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. 

He will also be key in the forthcoming European referendum. Javid said that leaving the EU “isn’t something that I’d be afraid of, I’d embrace the opportunities that would create”.

The “best outcome is if we do have a renegotiated relationship” with the EU. He suggested Britain needed to “reform it and focus it on trade and ensure it is not insular looking”.

He added: “In my 20 years in business I’ve worked around the world, I think we are already a global player, an international country when it comes to business. I want that to happen inside the European Union and we can reform it and focus it on trade and ensure it is not insular looking. We can all be better off inside the European Union if it can change some of its ways.

“But as I say, if the British people decide the decision is they want to leave the European Union, then that isn’t something that I’d be afraid of, I’d embrace the opportunities that would create.”

Javid is also responsible for universities. Under the previous coalition government, Cable had overseen the raising of tuition fees. The Conservative government has claimed to be committed to introducing a postgraduate loans system and had made a manifesto promise that “universities would deliver the best possible value for money to students”.

One of the challenges Javid will face is that while students have campaigned to cut tuition fees, several universities are likely to argue that they need to be increased.

In the mean time, Javid claimed he would one day, upon his retirement, love to be sitting on the “porch in a rocking chair”, pondering on what he’s done “to try and help my country give those opportunities that I have had to other generations. Where that means I go between now and my late 70s, I don’t know. But that’s what I want to feel that I’ve achieved.”

What is clear, however, is that Javid plans to make some significant changes.

He has proposed that a clear priority is “making sure people have dignity doing their jobs, security and a pay packet to help finance childcare”, as well as creating “2m more jobs in the next five years and 3m more apprenticeships”.

“I also believe passionately in free enterprise, that free enterprise is the lifeblood of any successful economy,” he said.