It’s no surprise to see Conservative attack dog Chris Grayling sinking his fangs into Labour’s spending pledges in today’s Sunday Telegraph. By the same token, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Conservative attack dog Michael Gove unleashed on Ed Miliband’s vulnerabities (I leave it to the reader to decide exactly what and where these are). After all, Grant Shapps and his apprentices in CCHQ’s devil’s kitchen cannot be expected to carry out every assault themselves.
But who’s this popping up behind the Sunday Times paywall? Why, none other than the relatively lowly figure of Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove – and number five in the Treasury team, the bottom figure in the ranks. Javid warns that Miliband has a £27 billion hole in his spending plans. Watch for that figure to rise as this week’s conference goes on.
And watch out for Javid, too. That so junior a Minister in the Government pecking-order is trusted to work at the same level as Cabinet Ministers such as Grayling says much about him – and how highly the Party leadership rates him. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury is a very modern success story.
The son of a family of Pakistani origin, he was brought up for a while in “Britain’s most dangerous street”, went first a Bristol comprehensive, then to Exeter University, and onwards to Chase Manhattan – where he became the youngest Vice-President in the history of the bank. Elected to the Commons in 2010 and already a Minister, he will be promoted before 2015.
The move may stir suspicions of tokenism. It shouldn’t. You don’t get to a senior level at Chase Manhattan by being a slouch. Javid is very bright, straightforward, sharp and, for that matter, right-wing: he pushed earlier in this Parliament and on this site for a debt ceiling. My only question is whether he is, well, political enough: business people and politics don’t always mix.
This is presumably why George Osborne – whose previous PPS, Greg Hands, is very political indeed – talent-spotted Javid and made him his PPS. (The Bromsgrove MP had previously served John Hayes in the same position.) Javid will be learning some of the political tricks of the trade in the Treasury, not to mention gaining experience of Whitehall’s most senior department. You will hear more about Sajid Javid in the months to come. Which is why I say: watch him.