There is a hymn that talks about the torture and death of an historical figure on a hill “without a city wall” which I was made to sing when I was about seven. I can still remember Mr Woodnut explaining the unusual use of “without”. Hills, while not commonly known for having walls around them are nevertheless quite common outside city walls. It is in this sense of the word “without” that Syed Kamall will be using on Thursday in his talk “Poverty Solutions without Politics“, and I think this difference between “without” and “without” is quite important for understanding Dr Kamall’s agenda.
Syed is a politician, he was other things before that, but he is now a serving MEP. His enthusiasm, however, is for solving society’s issues by non-political means. You will have to ask him if this is because he believes politics to be wrong, or ineffective or just because non-state solutions might be better, but by engaging in this space it is clear he is a fellow traveller. He has not waited for the political system to vanish – his career is inside the system, but his solutions are outside it. As such, even the most committed anarcho-capitalist should benefit by comparing notes with Dr Kamall.
A Londoner, Syed is the son of a Guyanese immigrant. In turn, his grandfather set sail in 1900 from India. If their intent was a better life for their descendants then Syed is evidence that they did well. Schooled at a Latymer – a voluntary aided grammar school – he graduated in Electronic Engineering at Liverpool. He went on to complete a masters in Analysis, Design And Management Of Information Systems at LSE. His PhD was earned at City University in Systems Science and the Management of Radical Change.
He spent two years working for Natwest as a Systems Analyst before spending three years on post doctoral research as a Fellow at Bath and at Leeds. Which took him onto an associate director position at Omega Partners, a consultancy.
Having joined the Conservatives in 1987, and working his way up through local associations he stood as London Assembly candidate in 2000, Westminster candidate for West Ham in 2001 and after placing fourth and losing out in 2004 on the MEP list system he succeeded Theresa Villiers in 2005 after she left the role. In 2008 on a trip to India with a group of MEPs he narrowly avoided being caught up in the terrorist attack on Taj Mahal Palace hotel. A nice place to stay most of the time, Syed spent his one night there hiding in a room above a nearby restaurant. In similar news he recently cycled in central London.
An “A-list” candidate he was elected and reelected in 2010 and 2014 as an MEP. He is Conservative Spokesman on International Trade, and a Member of the Justice & Home Affairs and Civil Liberties Committee.
One of very few politicians to have had a proper job, Syed’s third such role was at SSK Consulting. Both of his consultancy positions were in the fields of new media, the postal system and telecommunications. The latter is a subject upon which he has prepared a policy briefing for the EU. He has also contributed to a number of books and was published in the journals Management International Review and Transnational Corporations.