For the second time in recent history, Worcestershire has sent one of its MPs to lead the Home Office. Bromsgrove’s Sajid Javid’s elevation to Home Secretary (after Amber Rudd’s resignation) follows former Redditch MP Jacqui Smith. All three know that Home Secretary is an incredibly tricky job.
Sajid certainly has the back story and the skills to make a success of it. The son of an immigrant bus driver, he and his four brothers grew up with his parents in a 2 bedroomed flat over a shop. His journey has been long, rising to be one of the most senior individuals at Deutsche Bank where he ran a department of over 3,000 people in Asia. When he came to parliament, he quickly moved through the ministerial ranks, the first of my generation into the cabinet. The first ethnic minority Home Secretary, his immigrant background gives him an intimate knowledge of the issues surrounding the Windrush debacle. His managerial background gives him insight into how to run a complex and important government department. He is expected to do well at this tricky job.
Of course, he has some technical issues to tackle. Starting with Windrush, he must resolve this problem fast and with a delicate hand. Hundreds (if not more) legally resident British subjects must not be left in uncertainty about their status. He must resolve how to tackle illegal immigration effectively but with humanity. Crucially, he must know where to draw the line so that the Windrush debacle can never happen again.
But there are three policy area that I want him to address.
First is the issue of reducing legal immigration to below 100,000. This was always an Achilles heel for Conservatives and if we are to have a target, how is it arrived at and what is the basis for calculation? When our economy is strong, immigration goes up: when weak, it goes down. Our strong economy needs skills and innovation.
Second is the issue of student numbers in the data. That has always been a foolish inclusion and he needs to deal with this.
Finally, identity cards. I was against this, but I see how this can be a solution that will never allow problems like Windrush to happen again, and protect employers from inadvertently breaking employment laws.
Big issues that need a strong hand. Sajid has a lot to prove, but he is the right person for the job.