By Amit Roy
HOME SECRETARY Sajid Javid walked into an LBC studio in London last week just as a listener named “Louis” called presenter lain Dale to offer his personal opinion that 160,000 Tory party members would never pick a Muslim as prime minister.
“I heard that,” the home secretary admitted to Dale.
The latter offered almost an apology that Sajid, one of the Tory leadership hopefuls, had been confronted by British politics in the raw in so unkind a fashion.
“I would like to think we are in a country now that doesn’t think in that way,” sighed Dale. “I was slightly disappointed that Louis, quite an articulate young man, said that.”
Irrespective of the fact that Sajid came fifth in the first ballot with 23 votes last week, his interview with the not unsympathetic Dale indicated that it may be some time before Britain has a British Asian prime minister.
Sajid was determined to see the glass as half full: “I really think we are the most successful, multiracial democracy in the world. I have had the privilege to travel a lot and seen many other countries and many other democracies, and there is nothing like it.
“I will give you an example: when I go to EU council meetings you have ministers from around the world. I have never ever seen any other European country that has an ethnic minority minister sitting around the table. In Britain, it’s not just me there are many. That shows how strong our democracy is.”
Dale interjected: “You are now home secretary, you hold one of the great offices of state, that ought to send out a message to people like Louis that it is possible for somebody whatever their background, whatever their skin colour, whatever their faith to come forward and take the opportunities that are given to them.
“But it must get slightly debilitating at times when you are constantly having to deal with this kind of thing – Boris Johnson does not have to deal with this”.
Sajid responded: “Part of it is social media. After this evening with you, if I go and look at my social media tonight, there would be a whole bunch of racist comments.
“I suppose, to some extent, I have become a bit desensitised about it, but I also know it doesn’t represent what Britain is. It is a tiny, tiny, tiny proportion of the population. So, we should not get carried away with it.”
Normally, home secretaries are invited to Buckingham Palace banquets but a caller, “Abdul from Edmonton” wondered: “Was Sajid Javid left out of the Trump state banquet dinner because is a Muslim?”
Sajid said: “I wasn’t invited, and I don’t know why I wasn’t invited.”
In the absence of a proper explanation from whoever drew up the guest list, one has to assume Abdul may have a point.