Sajid Javid is the Home Secretary, and MP for Bromsgrove.
The first time I felt like an outsider was when I was six years old. My cousin told me we needed to change our walking route to school because of the ‘bad kids’ who supported the National Front.
At school, when I wanted to do the O levels and A levels I needed, I was told that kids like me should know their limits. When I was a new graduate seeking a job in the City, I met old-school bankers in old school ties who thought what my father did for a living was more important than what I could do. And when, after 20 years in business, I wanted to give back to my country by moving into politics and looked for a place in the only party I had ever supported, there were those who told me it just wasn’t for me, or that I should join Labour.
So I am used to people trying to tell me what I can’t do, and I’m used to proving people wrong. That is why I am optimistic and determined about what we Conservatives can do, together, to fix the problems we are facing as a party and as a country.
I have put myself forward to become the next Prime Minister of our United Kingdom because I believe I am uniquely placed to deliver on the three most significant challenges that our country faces. We need to deliver Brexit. We need to unify our party and our country. And, for the good of that country, we need to keep Labour out of government.
I’ve got a credible and honest plan to deliver Brexit. I’ve got the background, experience and positive vision for the future that will bring us together. And if we get all that right, then we will keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.
This is a moment for a new kind of leadership and a new kind of leader. We can’t risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort-zone choice. Our party needs to “change to win”, not unlike we did a decade ago.
At a time when our country feels so divided, we cannot afford to divide it still further. We cannot call ourselves a One Nation party if whole swathes of that nation don’t think we share their values or understand their needs, whether that’s young people, people from minority backgrounds, or working-class people who don’t see anyone who knows what their lives are like.
I’m not in politics to be a player in the game of thrones. I want to make a difference. I take people at face-value. I’m more of a man of action than words. I first took an interest in politics when I realised the power government had to give – or not give – people the opportunities they deserve. That will be the acid test for my policy agenda.
For me the fundamental question about the role of the state is whether – as the socialists believe – government should tell people what to do and how to live, or whether – as Conservatives have always said – it should give them the freedom and support they need to achieve their potential. I know where I stand, but for too many people this has become a discussion about abstract ideas rather than very real lives.
I’m in this race because I want to level the playing field, to lower the ladder to everyone. For me hard work, public services, and my family were the success factors. I want everyone in this country to feel that if they have a go, they will have every opportunity to succeed. That requires world-class public services. For me, public services aren’t just names of government departments, they were my ladders of opportunity.
My biggest priority would be education. Our schools, colleges and universities are the biggest engines of social justice we have. I recently laid out a long-term plan for education, ensuring that every child has the chance to get on in life. We need an education system which supports our FE colleges, encourages skills and apprenticeships and allows lifelong learning to become the norm.
We also need to reset our relationship with teachers and other public sector workers, like nurses and the police. I have committed to significantly increasing resourcing for our police, providing enough to get an additional 20,000 officers on our streets.
If we want world-class public services, we need a vibrant economy to pay for them. That means a low tax economy, and a Conservative Government which backs business, rewarding those who work hard and take a chance. It means we need to invest in growth.
I have outlined plans for an ambitious new £100 billion National Infrastructure Fund, to invest in projects which will ensure the British economy is fit for the future. It would prioritise projects outside London and the South East, recognising that we need to rebalance the economy, and deliver economic growth all around the country. This, in turn this will help us build a more united country.
This does not just depend upon economic growth. We must also focus on the root causes which damage life chances. The measure of any society is how we help the most vulnerable. I would focus on early intervention, look at how we tackle addiction, and focus on rehabilitation of offenders.
I believe a vital part of this equation is the role of the family. I was lucky to have a family who constantly encouraged me, but so many problems stem from family breakdown. I would make it a priority to look at how we can strengthen families right across Government.
We also need to build a stronger national family, including overcoming the sense of haves and have-nots. The housing crisis has driven a huge wedge between generations. As Communities Secretary I increased building rates to the highest levels in decades, but we need to go much further, building hundreds of thousands more homes, whole new towns, and get home ownership back up.
I am passionate about our country because, for my family, Britain was a choice. They came here for freedom, security, opportunity and prosperity. It is because of these strengths that I have always been an optimist about Britain’s future. And I believe if we can unite both our party and our country, we can secure for future generations all the things that make this country a beacon for the world.