Don’t be afraid of anything
Fifty years ago I came to the UK from India, as an immigrant with very little. I set up my own small travel agency in a kiosk in Earl’s Court station. In 1998, what had started life as a small business became ebookers.com, the first online travel agent in the country. It floated on both sides of the Atlantic and in 2005 I sold my stake, leaving a thriving business and enabling me to invest my time and money in other exciting businesses, in other younger entrepreneurs, in charities and, of course, in supporting the Liberal Democrats.
I guess it is my personal experiences that have made me the liberal that I am. As an entrepreneur, I have seen the importance of investing in education and individual endeavour, but also the need for a level playing field so new entrants can compete with the old monopolies. I have seen the crucial importance of a fair tax system in which big and small contribute proportionately to the public services from which we all benefit, including the businesses that generate the wealth.
I have learned to appreciate the value of freedom of movement so I can recruit the very best people with the skills I need, regardless of where they come from, and the economic benefit of a tolerant and open society which will make my employees feel welcome in Britain, wherever they come from.
And finally I have learned not to ‘settle’ for second best. I am a disrupter and a challenger just like the party I support, which is why I would be so honoured to represent it as candidate for Mayor of London.
There is, in my belief, no substitute for experience. In my life, I have won against the odds and I have learned not to afraid of anybody or anything. And if I have learned anything from my time in business – and if we have learned anything from politics of the past few years – nothing is impossible. It is time for a new challenge.