Lord Porter is the Chairman of the Local Government Association.
It seems that the Tory leadership contest is really a two horse race: Boris Johnson and ‘somebody else.’
I worked with Boris when he was Mayor of London and I was chairman of the Conservative Councillors’ Association, and he kindly supported us at a couple of our conferences.
I know of his outstanding qualities in a number of areas, but I am backing ‘somebody else.’
That ‘somebody’ in my case is Sajid Javid.
I worked with Saj for a number of years when he was our Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He was always a pleasure to work with, and really got the value of what our local government members bring to the Party.
In particular, he secured two big wins for local government during his time as our Secretary of State.
Firstly, having listened to our lobbying on the crisis in social care, he worked with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Health Secretary to secure an additional £2 billion in funding for social care in the 2017 budget. This represented a significant short-term injection of funding into social care, directly benefiting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
What I found particularly impressive about this was not just the extra money that he secured – as important as this was – but the way that, having grasped the complexity of the issue, he worked across Whitehall Departments to successfully deliver it for us.
Secondly, getting more homes built and families on the property ladder is the Government’s biggest challenge outside of delivering Brexit. Delivering a property-owning democracy is of course a core tenet of conservatism, but, more pragmatically, the fact that so many younger and middle-aged voters are currently unable to buy their own homes presents an existential electoral threat to us.
With the Government committed to building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, it is essential that development is accompanied by infrastructure that makes it sustainable. Again, working with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Saj managed to secure £5 billion for the new Housing Infrastructure Fund which is designed to unlock up to 200,000 new homes in areas of high demand.
In addition to a solid record of policy delivery, Saj has a brilliant backstory that will resonate with anyone who believes in conservative values. He embodies our belief that it is ‘what you are’ rather than ‘who you are’ that really counts.
When Brexit is out of the way and no longer an issue, we will need someone who can reach out to the widest possible audience. I believe that Saj is the best placed contender to do this.
The other leadership candidates all have admirable qualities. For example, in the social care example mentioned above, Jeremy Hunt, in his then role as Health Secretary, also played a critical role in securing the additional funding from the Treasury.
My positive endorsement of Saj is based on the fact that of all the contenders, he is the one that I have worked with most closely and, more importantly, his record of delivering for local government and the communities that we serve.