Friday 2 December 2022

Sajid Javid: An Anti-Appreciation

As a reminder of how Twitter is essential political infrastructure, former health, home, housing secretary, chancellor for five minutes, and serial leadership contender, Sajid Javid took to the platform to announce he's stepping down at the next general election. Can't say I blame him, to be honest. Despite having a reputation as an ideologue as hard on the party's right as Rishi Sunak, Javid is rare among Tories for possessing a brain. And with the chances of an election victory in 2024 at absolute zero, a lengthy if not permanent period of opposition doesn't appear appetising. Especially if there are more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, which there will be for an ex-banker like Javid.

To be honest, I'll be sorry to see him go. There are Tories, and there are interesting Tories and Javid fits that bill for me. I've always had a bit more time for those born without the silver spoon and haven't benefited from undue privilege. That doesn't mean Javid wasn't a frightful horror, politically speaking. As Home Secretary he described Momentum as a "neo-fascist organisation", an allegation he would never repeat outside of the Commons chamber. He also shielded the Tory party from allegations of Islamophobia, despite hailing from a Muslim background himself. He mixed himself up in the "Asian paedophiles" discourse with the worst of them. And as part of his duties in his previous life in the City, he operated a tax avoidance scheme that laundered bankers' bonuses through the Cayman Islands so they could enjoy the fruits of their ill-gotten gains in full.

What was interesting about Javid was his first stab at the top. Unconventionally, he formed a joint ticket with Stephen Crabb in 2016 and offered a first stab at blue collar Toryism - this was before Theresa May and Boris Johnson variously adapted themselves to it. The ruse didn't work for them and it wasn't long before Crabb had to step down from front rank politics following the unearthing of inappropriate text messages. Second was, despite the peddling the same disingenuous and dishonest rubbish as fellow Tory ministers, he appeared to have an attachment to ideas. Initially billed as a follower of the unlamented Ayn Rand, in 2020 Javid put his name to a report by the Centre for Policy Studies. The think tank, founded by the blessed Margaret and her mentor/hanger-on Keith Joseph did a 180 and called for more public spending and state intervention in the economy. For a disciple of so-called objectivism to endorse this non-Thatcherite course demonstrated again a certain flexibility in his thinking. Unlike Sunak who is a plodder and is dogmatically sticking with a strategy that won't save the Tories, the two occasions Javid showed an innovative spirit suggests that he would have served his party well as leader, and therefore made our lives and that of the labour movement more difficult. But he did do us a solid - he kicked off the mass resignations from Johnson's cabinet and ensured their best electoral asset was put out to pasture.

Javid's departure is, by my reckoning, the 13th Tory to have announced his decision to stand down in 2024. He won't be the last one calling time on his political career either. If sitting MPs can't show they have confidence in their party, why should the voters?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Javid's links to the Assange issue are interesting as well.