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A Star is Born?

Nadhim Zahawi

Parliament, with its new coalition government has been sitting for barely two weeks and already a new MP, Nadhim Zahawi, is already making an impact.

Fellow MP’s from all sides of the house have remarked how impressive he is in the chamber. One MP remarked ‘it’s as though he’s been here for some time’.

I have known Nadhim for over ten years when Lord Jeffery Archer first spotted his talent when he – Archer – was running for Mayor in 2000. Shortly afterwards both he and Stephan Shakespere set up Yougov.com, now one of the leading poll companies in the country.

Born in Basra, Iraq, to Kurdish parents, Zahawi and his family fled Iraq during the Saddam Hussian years. Having been educated in the UK and finding financial success, Zahawi strongly feels that this is home.

With the confidence, that goes beyond his political experience, Zahawi speaking during  ‘Prime Minster questions’ urged his leader to “fly the St Georges flag over Downing Street”  to support England team during the World cup. The Prime Minster agreed.

Many expect that Zahawi will rise very quickly, and exemplify what Cameron describes as, ‘the parties diverse talent base’.

We wish him well, and will be reporting on his and the other new BME MP’s endeavors over the weeks and months ahead.

By Simon Woolley,
OBV Director

Below is his maiden speech:

Thank you for calling me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like congratulate all those who have made their maiden speeches, especially my good Friends the hon. Members for Rugby (Mark Pawsey), for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid) and for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng).

Mr Deputy Speaker, I would love to be able to tell the House that generations of Zahawis have lived and worked in Stratford for hundreds of years, but I suspect you just might spot that I would be stretching the truth a little. What I can tell the House is that I have had the most incredibly warm welcome from all the thousands of people I met through the campaign, and that Stratfordians are truly special people-a rightly proud people. It was humbling for me to achieve 51% of the vote in an eight-horse race, and I will never forget who put me in this place.

My predecessor was a first-class Member of Parliament and I am not surprised that he has been elevated to the other place. I did not know him well, as I have spent the past 11 years concentrating on building up a business rather than around the candidates department, but I very quickly learned that there is an enormous amount of affection and huge respect for him among the people of my constituency. Coupled with that achievement is his hard work for his country and his party. He held the posts of shadow Health, Defence and Foreign Secretaries, and he was also deputy chairman of the party twice. I am thrilled that he has chosen to be known as the Lord Maples of Stratford-upon-Avon.

My constituency covers some 465 square miles. It contains some of England’s most attractive market towns and some 120 stunning villages, ranging from Long Compton in the south to Earlswood in the north. Stratford town itself awaits the re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre in November where, under the great leadership of Vicky Hayward, it is undergoing a £112 million makeover that will deliver a whole new experience for those coming to see the works of the great bard. My wife Lana and I were honoured to be part of the precession for his 446th birthday celebrations in April, when we walked from his birthplace in Henley street to his place of rest at Holy Trinity church.

My constituency is not without its problems, some very local and others inflicted on it by the policies of the previous Government. The town of Stratford is suffering from over-development, and the top-down targets set by central Government have clearly done a lot of damage. All our towns have problems with antisocial behaviour and thuggery, which stem from a combination of the 24-hour drinking laws and a police force who are hampered by bureaucracy. The farmers are suffering too, with too much red tape, the single farm payments being delayed for months, and the problem with badgers, which I highlighted in the House last week. I will continue my predecessor’s campaign for better flood defences and to save our fire stations in Alcester, Bidford and Studley.

The biggest problem in Stratford-on-Avon is the economy. We have too many closed shops and too many burdens on business. We need to help small and medium-sized businesses to do better and get back on their feet. They, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has identified, are the future and the solution to our economic woes. I am very pleased to have seen my right hon. Friend make the Government’s first ministerial visit to China and play such a central role at the G20 in South Korea. I am pleased to see in the Gracious Speech special emphasis on balancing the books, getting rid of the tax on jobs and giving a one-year national insurance holiday to start-ups. I strongly believe that that will be a catalyst to kick-start the enterprise economy.

I now utter my only word of caution. I am someone with first-hand experience of a start-up. We must be careful what we do on capital gains tax. Of course I understand the need to raise some taxes and to help to create a fairer tax system. It must be right to relieve the lowest earners of the tax burden. I would go as far as labeling it a moral tax cut. However, it is important to remember the job creators, those who back them and those who join them and work for them. It would be counter-productive to penalise people who invest in start-ups-in itself a high-risk thing-by increasing CGT on their investment. It would also be wrong to penalise employees who join a risky start-up from possibly a safer occupation and, of course, to penalise entrepreneurs themselves.

In the Gracious Speech there was a strong focus on freedom, fairness and responsibility. It would be unfair and wrong to penalise people who have acted and saved responsibly with a further tax at a time when we are introducing incentives to act responsibly in marriage and partnership. Penalising responsible investment would be to send a contradictory and unhealthy message to the country.

No maiden speech from the Member for Stratford-on-Avon would be complete without a quote from our country’s greatest poet and playwright. I thought long and hard about which of his works would be most appropriate, and I settled on the Scottish play, that great tale of human ambition, conspiracy and tragedy. It is from the witches scene in act I, which must surely be read as a warning to the three largest parties in this House:

“When shall we three meet again

In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”

“When the hurly-burly’s done,

When the battle’s lost and won”

“That will be ere the set of sun.”

Our country faces a dark economic storm, and the people will be watching us and how we behave in this House. Let us not be tempted by self-interest or party interest but let us instead put our country first.

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