Conservatives for Liberty requested this piece. For me, the Conservative Party is the party which believes in aspiration and success. Very briefly, I joined because the Party was, and still is, changing Britain for the better. I am a Conservative, not a conservative.
I joined the Conservative Party over 30 years ago after being convinced of the merits of free market capitalism. I believe that the state should concentrate on a small number of functions that only states can perform. Otherwise people are best placed to look after their own affairs, with the state providing a safety net.
A key requirement for a successful economy is reliable, relatively inexpensive, and rapid, enforcement of commercial contracts. Sadly the courts of many countries cannot be relied upon when it comes to enforcing contracts, particularly when foreigners are seeking to enforce contracts against local country residents. The case of Dana Gas and its sukuk default illustrates this very well.
I was invited to speak to the sixth form at Ibstock Place School in Roehampton. I addressed this question, and explained that continuing technological progress will produce a cornucopia of goods and services. The pupils' real challenge will be to find meaning for their lives in a world where most of them do not need to work.
After the 2017 general election the Conservative Party no longer has a majority in the House of Commons. I consider that the Government needs to come up with a UK negotiating strategy that is agreed with the key interested parties, namely the other political parties, the devolved administrations, and the Mayor of London. While this may seem difficult, the EU has managed to devise a negotiating strategy agreed by the other 27 members states. Finally, Parliament should ask whether the final negotiated EU departure agreement is better or worse than remaining within the EU. If it is worse, Parliament should instruct the Government to seek to keep the UK within the EU.
To leave the EU, the UK needs to give notice under Article 50 of the EU Treaty. The text of Article 50 contains no provision for unilateral revocation of the notice. Many experts on international law consider that under general international law principles an Article 50 notice can be revoked unilaterally but this cannot be relied upon. Given the significance of the issues, the Government should ask the ECJ as ultimate interpreter of the EU Treaty about revocability. Otherwise the UK faces serious risks. In my view this should take priority over the desire to serve an early notice.
Bright Blue is a Conservative leaning think tank which is looking in detail at Conservatism and Human Rights. The Commissioners have been holding evidence sessions on a range of subject areas. I gave evidence on the race and religion aspects of human rights. This can be seen on video.
Referendums have often been abused by dictators and demagogues. That may be why the USA constitution has no provision for them, and the UK never held one until 1975. Referendums often ask voters to vote for "a pig in a poke." Even when the alternatives are properly specified, people often cast their ballots for reasons nothing to do with the referendum question.
A recording of my 20 minute talk to the Oxford University Conservative Association. I explain the demographics of Britain's Muslims, and how it differs from the demographic profile of non-Muslims. The talk then covers voting patterns and how they are changing. Finally, I show the differences in how the Conservative and Labour Parties select candidates for safe seats, and what this reveals about their philosophies.
There are clear reasons why some countries are richer than others. Some countries are rich because they have extensive natural resources, and a small population to share the sale proceeds amongst. Others are impoverished by war damage. However the effects of such damage are temporary. The main reasons some countries are richer than others relate to their internal governance and the legal and business environment. A comparison of Finland and Iran demonstrates dramatic differences, with the aid of comparative data from countries such as South Korea and Pakistan.
I have low expectations for Donald Trump's performance as US President. However I believe the fears of many Muslims are overblown. In my view the key message from Trump's election is the need for American (and British) Muslims to be politically engaged at all times, not just in the run-up to elections. In particular Muslims need to build alliances with Jews and Christians, and focus on their rights "as citizens", not "as Muslims."
Our desire not to deliberately upset people has morphed into "political correctness" which prohibits some issues from discussion. My speech at the Durham Union Society gives two notable examples. Prohibiting some issues from discussion harms society by leading to bad decisions.
In the EU Referendum, voters chose for the UK to leave the EU. However the nature of the UK's future trade relationship with the EU needs to be determined. More trade restrictions are always worse than fewer restrictions. The article considers the most extreme restrictions possible and shows how the UK would suffer far more from these than would the rest of the EU.
More than anything else, the world is shaped by our ideas and the way we think. That is why I direct my charitable donations towards organisations that generate and spread good ideas. Poor countries are poor because they are badly governed and because they pursue bad economic policies. Network for a Free Society sets out to address this deficit directly, by distributing good ideas around the world. I was struck by their 2016 Annual Report and have shared it on this page.
The Conservative Home website has relatively strict limits on the length of articles. Accordingly when I wrote a piece explaining my position on the EU Referendum, I concentrated on the three key issues. They are security, prosperity, and Britain's influence in the world. I also concentrated on being positive.
The EU Referendum is the most important decision the British people have faced for a generation. Whether the UK remains in or leaves the EU will affect many aspects of our national life. Like many, I have become frustrated by the poor quality of the discussion in the arguments about the referendum. Accordingly, I have created this page to discuss the key topics in detail. I am writing from my Remain perspective, but welcome contrary views from Leave supporters.
During the recent election campaign for Mayor of London, many Muslims, as well as many non-Muslims, considered Zac Goldsmith's campaign for Mayor of London to be highly inappropriate. Quite a few people complained to me during the campaign. I shared their concerns, but considered it inappropriate to comment publicly while the campaign was underway. Now that the campaign is over have published my concerns to explain why I consider the campaign to have been deplorable.
I was asked to speak for 10 minutes to a primarily Muslim audience on why the UK should remain in the European Union. I focused on the importance of the EU to our economy. In particular I explained from first principles what the single market is about, and how it makes us richer, using the car industry and financial services as examples. I also pointed out how the most vociferous opponents of the EU are also often also anti-Muslim.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated during an interview that it was wrong to label people concerned about immigration as racists. The Islam Channel considered these comments controversial and organised a three person discussion for 17 minutes on their current affairs programme. I supported Justin Welby's views.
I know many Conservative BME MPs who represent very "white" constituencies. This led me to look at the data for all BME MPs in England & Wales, using the 2011 census information for Parliamentary constituencies. The exercise reveals that the Conservative Party selects candidates on merit, often selecting BME candidates for very "white" seats. However the Labour Party appears to primarily select BME candidates for constituencies with a relatively high BME population ratio. My page also has an Excel file and PDF file showing the BME ratio for every constituency in England & Wales and which party won the seat.
Religious beliefs cannot be the basis of state policy, since no person has to accept anyone else's religious views. The issue of prostitution, where religious people (including me) have strong moral views sharply illustrates the point. Fiona Bruce MP has proposed criminalising the purchase of sex which I consider would cause more harm than good. Instead I propose legalised and properly regulated brothels.
This article, published in an Iranian magazine, assesses the present state of Iran's economy and looks at how it should develop. Iran's economy was severely damaged by the Iran / Iraq war, and by sanctions related to the nuclear dispute. The resolution of the nuclear dispute is a major opportunity. Iran is presently a middle income country, with very high levels of corruption, and its future development depends on addressing some key issues where the article makes some specific recommendations. The most difficult challenge will be increasing personal freedom, which in the long run is economically essential.
The UK's Trident independent nuclear deterrent is ageing and needs to be replaced or scrapped. The main argument put forward for replacement is that the UK cannot rely upon the US "nuclear umbrella". However this argument applies with even greater force to many other US allies. If they all sought nuclear weapons, paradoxically the world would become more dangerous, not less. Therefore I would not renew Trident, preferring to spend the money on conventional weapons.
In May 2015 with a group of friends I visited the European Parliament building for the first time, hosted by Afzal Khan CBE MEP. He used the Parliament's facilities to record an eight minute video during which he asked four of us to share our thoughts on the European Union. I spoke three times in the video, very briefly, but was still able to state the key reasons why I strongly support the UK's membership of the EU.
The terrorist group controlling large parts of Syria and Iraq calls itself "Islamic State." However it is neither Islamic nor a State. There are various acronyms governments use to refer to the group and of these I conclude that ISIL is the most appropriate in English. I also recommend not using the name ISIL's leader has adopted.
Many commentators contend that global poverty is increasing. However such contentions are simply incorrect. On average people around the world are far better off than they have ever been. The danger of seeing the world incorrectly is that you will prescribe the wrong policies and in turn they will make people worse off.
Tax avoidance gets much media coverage, and is often confused with tax evasion. I explain the difference between them. I have contributed to the discussions at the project "Responsible Tax for the Common Good" and as part of that, I have written down an illustrative corporate tax policy which encapsulates my views.
Prevent is part of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. 280 people, including many eminent academics, signed a group letter criticising Prevent in very strong terms. I regard the letter as badly drafted and lacking in logic. It is so bad that the academics would have been far better off composing their own individual letters.
ABC is a leading Spanish newspaper to which I gave a written interview about Muslim integration and radicalisation. While the interview has been published in Spanish, I have set out the original English questions and answers on this website page. I explain why I think some young people are attracted by ISIS and how it can be prevented.
I attended a small event to discuss how to help them Burma's Rohingya Muslims. As well as violence they face significant legal discrimination and are denied citizenship. There are some simple actions that each of us can take.
Many people refuse to vote, either for religious reasons, or simply because they find the candidates unappealing. They forget that abstaining is also a choice, and has its own consequences. When making every decision, you should also evaluate the consequences of taking no action.
I took part in a 19 minute discussion on the Islam Channel on the day the Government announced that it was proceeding with a number of proposals to counter non-violent extremism. The programme presenter and the other two panel participants appear to reject the existence of radicalisation and non-violent extremism. I think that is the most fundamental divide. Not what to do about non-violent extremism, but whether you acknowledge that there is such a problem.
"Why as a devout Muslim do you support a political party which in government has attacked Muslims overseas?" The sixth form at Lancaster Royal Grammar School asked me that challenging question. In response, I explained that a look at history shows that the question is based on a false premise. The reality is that Conservative governments have not attacked Muslims overseas and have no anti-Muslim agenda.
I appear on a 1 minute video from the Muslim Council of Britain encouraging Muslims to vote. The messages are applicable to all citizens. My message is very simple. "A very simple thing happens if you don't vote. Other people get what they want, and you don't get what you want."
When speaking at a fundraising event for Jason McCartney MP I challenged three myths about politics. These were: (1) politicians are only in it for themselves; (2) it doesn’t matter who runs the country, they are all just as bad as each other; and (3) it makes no difference whether or not you vote. To show how having good or incompetent government makes a massive difference to the lives of citizens, I contrasted the long term performance of two pairs of countries: Poland v Greece (1991-2013) and South Korea v Pakistan (1950-2013).
The website Conservative Home asked me to be part of a panel of 10 Conservatives who would each summarise their reaction to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's Budget speech in 300 words. These needed to be supplied within 60 minutes of the Chancellor stopping speaking. As Conservative Home is mainly read by Party activists, I decided to focus on the politics of the speech.
Justice and reconciliation are fundamental religious and human values. Sometimes there is no conflict between them but in other situations there can be a fundamental conflict between dispensing justice and achieving reconciliation. Failure to acknowledge this conflict, or attempting to "fudge" it, is a serious mistake. I look at this in the context of Northern Ireland.
Muslim organisations were right to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo's staff. However condemnation by itself is not enough. The policy implications must also be considered. Some contend that the killers could not be real Muslims, while others contend that the killers' religion is irrelevant. I disagree with both contentions.
The UK Government set up a Commission to consider a Bill of Rights. Underlying this is the issue of the UK's continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. After reading the report and considering the arguments for withdrawal, I conclude that the UK should remain a party to the ECHR.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-2015 is written in neutral language. However its main concern is clearly the risk of terrorism being committed by British Muslims. Some Muslims consider that the Government has an anti-Muslim agenda. I disagree completely and see the Government as behaving in a religiously neutral manner.
UKIP is the most significant new political party since the rise of the Labour Party. UKIP supporters are often believed to be entirely disaffected Tories. The book details the history of UKIP, and looks at who supports it. It concludes that UKIP supporters are very different from the supporters of the other three main parties.
The House of Lords is a peculiarly British institution. While it works relatively well, most people consider there are too many members. I outline a radical plan for reducing its size by removing those members their fellow peers consider to be the least effective. My plan also lays out a clear policy for the party political balance in the House of Lords
I took part in a 16 minute discussion of the UK Government's concerns about EU migration and what it is seeking to achieve. In my view opinions around this issue are excessively polarised, and there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate.
Many British Muslims are now fighting in Syria and Iraq for a range of organisations and the Government considers their return a threat. However others downplay this risk. I took part in a TV discussion on the general threat assessment as well as the risks the returnees might pose.
Government action can increase or reduce the country's international competitiveness. In practice this happens with the cumulative effect of many small decisions. The UK Government's encouragement of Islamic finance illustrates this point very well.
Britons from an immigrant background care far more about foreign issues than do white Britons. In particular, most British Muslims are very concerned about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as explaining the importance of the subject, I outline one presentational point for Conservative politicians and raise one policy question.
ISIS has been condemned by the overwhelming majority of Muslim scholars, but still appeals to some young Muslims. I took part in a 15 minute discussion on the Islam Channel to share my thoughts about ISIS.
Even without winning any seats, far right parties matter if they cause other parties to change policy. I dispute whether this has occurred in the UK. The programme also discussed David Cameron's speech to the Munich Security Conference in February 2011, and the meaning of British values.
Britain's ethnic composition has changed dramatically in the last 60 years. 14% of the British population now belongs to an ethnic minority, projected to increase by 2051 to 20-30%. The 2011 national census and other sources provide very detailed information which this report condenses into 97 very readable pages. It is immensely informative.
Commercial companies are owned by their shareholders who are free to buy and sell individual shares or entire companies. Where a company is being taken over, when are governments entitled to intervene? The Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca provides a case study.
Many UK charities are providing relief to people suffering from the Syrian conflict. The Chair of the Charity Commission has expressed concern about charitable funds being diverted to fund the conflict. There is also a wider issue about whether charities might be abused by terrorists or extremists. I participated in a two part Islam Channel programme discussing the issues.
The values of British Muslims align with the Conservative Party's values. Despite that, most British Muslims vote Labour. There are many distinct reasons for this. One is the inadvertent use of language which creates a divide between Muslim voters and the Conservative Party. I focused on this in a short speech I gave at the Conservative Muslim Forum's fringe meeting at the Welsh Conservative Party's Spring Conference.
Some countries are much better than others at creating private sector jobs. The principles behind job creation are straightforward, but many countries fail to implement them for a variety of political reasons.
A students union's recent vote to boycott Israel led to this TV discussion. I stressed the need to distinguish between boycotting Israel and boycotting West Bank settlements which are illegal. Furthermore would an academic boycott also extend to Israeli Arab academics?
Many argue whether there is any problem of unacceptable speakers on university campuses. I believe the issue is real and consider the government could help universities by publishing a register of hate preachers. However I do not consider "Student Rights" is a credible arbiter.
Armed drone aeroplanes are used by a growing number of countries but their use against terrorists is often controversial. I appeared in a 19 minute discussion about them on the Islam Channel. Despite the title, most of the discussion was about US drone strikes, their legality and casualties.
All security measures need to balance individual freedom with the protection of society from those who wish to do us harm. I participated in a TV discussion looking at the policy issues around TA 2000 Sch 7, which allows someone passing through a port or an airport to be detained for up to nine hours for interrogation.
Some European governments have banned wearing a niqab or a burqa in public. While the UK Government opposes such a ban, a backbench MP is promoting a Private Member's Bill to enact one. Although the Bill is very unlikely to be passed by Parliament, it is damaging Muslims' perceptions of the Conservative Party.
The Maajid Nawaz "Jesus and Mo" cartoon tweet furore raises many questions. While I see it as primarily a free speech issue, it also raises questions about how political parties engage with Muslim voters. This panel discussion explores the issues quite well.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz has received death threats after tweeting a cartoon. An explanation of the background, the religious issues and the policy implications. The furore show why the UK should never again have a blasphemy law.
Wealth is usually measured in money. However what money can buy changes dramatically over time due to technical and cultural progress. Accordingly a middle class person today has far more available to him than Pharaoh ever did.
Dominic Grieve gave a wide-ranging interview to the Daily Telegraph in which he expressed concern about electoral corruption. In response to questioning he identified the Pakistani community as a particular concern. I appeared on a TV discussion about the remarks. While they could have been better expressed, I do not believe he sought to demonise Britons of Pakistani origin.
Hizb ut Tahrir seeks to establish an Islamic State that "executes the systems of Islam" and opposes participation in democratic politics. The organisation has led many impressionable young British Muslims such as Ed Husain, Maajid Nawaz and others astray. While I oppose banning it, I believe the false history its ideology is based upon should be combated by teaching a truer Muslim history.
The UK has been thinking about issuing a sukuk since 2007. However it has kept putting it off as not being value for money. Accordingly David Cameron pleasantly surprised many people when he announced at the World Islamic Economic Forum that he wanted the UK to go ahead with an issue. I wrote an article the same day welcoming the announcement and answering some questions from 2008 about the implications.
Historically, "immigrant" has regularly been used as a code word for "non-white". Consequently attempts to restrict immigration have often been seen as disguised racism. However the major influx of white East European immigrants after 2004 has broken this link in the minds of many people, including ethnic minorities. That can transform the politics associated with the immigration issue.
The Money Advice Trust recently published a report that showed councils used bailiffs 1.8 million times in 12 months. I took part in a TV discussion asking if it is fair, and whether it disproportionately impacts upon Muslims.
Mrs Thatcher's death in April 2013 was a major national event. While many, including me, regarded her as the nation's saviour, others detested her. I discuss the polarisation of views. I only saw Mrs Thatcher three times, and sent in my reminiscences for a story published in the PwC former partners' magazine about partners' encounters with her.
Since the Public Accounts Committee held hearings into Starbucks, Amazon and Google, tax avoidance by international companies has had much media coverage. However the issues are complex and often misunderstood. I recently took part in a short TV discussion which provides a simple introduction to some of the issues.
The vocabulary we use has a major impact on the world. Many terrorists who are Muslims claim to be conducting jihad. However accepting their vocabulary flatters them and also feeds a narrative of "The West attacking Islam."
In Britain, immigration has traditionally been used as a code word for racial bigotry. Is that still the case today? I took part in a TV programme discussing whether everyone now agrees that immigration is a problem, and what kinds of people we want to allow into our country.
Some public statements, for example incitement to murder, are illegal. However much that is legal is still unacceptable. An example is Holocaust denial, legal in the UK but totally deplorable. Owners of property can stop people speaking there but how do they know who to ban from their premises? Due to the risk of libel actions, only the Government could maintain a list of such people.
The pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge led to a media frenzy. In this TV discussion I explain that there are simple reasons why some British newspapers have so much royal coverage. The panel also discussed some more wide-ranging questions about the royal family and the British public.
Almost everyone believes that employers should not discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities. However many complain about the tools needed to ensure that wrongful discrimination is not happening. I explain how ethnic monitoring works, and why it is beneficial based upon my own experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Britain's jobs performance has been good despite a weak economy. However are the employment figures distorted? I appear on a 24 minute TV programme in which the panel discussed this question and also ranged more widely over the UK economy.
Later in 2013, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will be free to travel to all EU countries. Many commentators and politicians are concerned that large numbers will come to Britain, as happened with Poles after they were given the right to work here. In this TV discussion I point out the benefits from the free movement of labour within the European Union.
The Conservative Party attracts less support from ethnic minority voters than it does from white voters. In this 23 minute programme on the Islam Channel a professor of politics, a left wing columnist and I discuss why that might be. During the discussion I explain why I consider that immigration has ceased to be a racial issue.
MPs' pay has been politically controversial for many years. MPs used to set their salary themselves. Responsibility for setting MPs pay now rests with an external body, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. IPSA is consulting on the appropriate pay level. I have proposed £200,000 per year. My reason is that to perform their role effectively, MPs need to be as talented as the senior people they have to deal with. Talented individuals should not be deterred from becoming MPs by financial considerations.
In June 2012, Mr Afzal criticised me alongside Lord Sheikh and the Conservative Muslim Forum. While I normally ignore criticism, I have decided to clarify some statements Mr Afzal made to avoid any implication that I accept the interpretation Mr Afzal's piece puts on the facts.
I spoke for two minutes at the Conservative Muslim Forum Eid reception. I explained how the Conservative Party's values align with my values as a Muslim, and why I regard the two main objections Muslims raise against joining the Party as invalid.
Directors of a publicly held company have a duty to protect the company's assets. That responsibility includes ensuring the company does not pay more tax than the law requires. Accordingly, except where it might otherwise damage the business, the directors of the company have a duty to ensure that it avoids tax where it can.
All citizens with resources should pay tax to the state. The general view is that your tax liability should increase without limit as your income rises. I am not convinced this is fair. A cap on people's income tax liability would encourage wealthy people to remain in the UK, and wealthy foreigners to come here. That should boost total tax revenues and boost the economy.
People not domiciled in the UK receive some favourable tax treatments not given to UK domiciled persons. This has caused many foreign domiciled billionaires to move to the UK. Their being here benefits our economy. I propose extending the same tax treatment to UK domiciled people, to discourage UK origin billionaires from emigrating. This should increase total tax revenues.
Many media stories about tax avoidance contend that is immoral. In my view the complaints about tax avoidance are tendentious. Governments make tax law and citizens are obliged to pay tax in accordance with the law. That is the end of the matter.
The Conservative Party needs more support from ethnic minorities. In focus groups, many people still mention the former Conservative MP Enoch Powell as a reason for not voting Conservative. The Party's leader David Cameron needs to speak out to condemn Enoch Powell in the strongest possible terms to emphasise how the Conservative Party has changed.
An explanation of my view that the euro was created to increase the cross-border integration of european business and an analysis of what has gone wrong and what needs to be done. I forecast that all current members, even Greece, will remain within the eurozone.
The Government is consulting on replacing civil partnerships for same-sex couples with civil marriage. Many religious groups have objected to the change and so have I. The consultation closes on 14 June 2012.
The proposal in the March 2012 UK Budget to limit tax relief for charitable giving has caused great controversy. Much of the debate has misrepresented the issues which I explain with some simple numbers.
In a speech on the King James Bible, Prime Minister David Cameron explained his view of Britain as a Christian country and the importance of Christian values. The Islam Channel had a programme where I discussed this with Dr Jonathan Chaplin - Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics.
My essay in the Demos publication "Are we there yet? A collection on race and Conservatism" edited by Max Wind-Cowie. I discuss the nature of race and the meaning of national identity, and how the Conservative Party has changed under David Cameron.
Using the same word, "marriage" to describe a legal relationship and a relationship that is primarily religious causes confusion. The state should recognise only civil partnerships, leaving marriage to individuals depending on their beliefs.
Lord Ashcroft was at the heart of Conservative campaign strategy from 2005 - 2010. He gives a fascinating, short and very readable insight into how the Conservative Party needed to change, and why it just failed to win an overall majority.
Every time I think about it I am surprised by how few British citizens are members of a political party. In this piece, I explain how much influence joining a party gives you, even if you don't have time to get actively involved.
This video appears to have been posted on YouTube on 23 February 2010, but I only became aware of recently when a friend brought it to my attention. I was quite pleased to find the BNP attacking me by name, and regard it as a badge of honour.
With the General Election only eight days away, I wrote a couple of comments on the Guardian's comment is free website. This page contains those comments, along with links to the main articles I was responding to.
I was asked to contribute a piece to the newly launched MCB Youth Committee blog. I chose to write about the critical importance of political participation, which I regard as essential to the future of the Muslim community in the UK.
I am a member of the Conservative Muslim Forum. In the summer of 2009, I helped to write the leaflet "Why Muslims need to join the Conservative Muslim Forum," the text of which was signed off by the Conservative Party's internal team as with all other Party materials.