I was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. At the age of four I came to Britain where I was raised in inner city Birmingham in a two-up-two-down with my parents and eight brothers and sisters. Having left school with no qualifications (but plenty of ambition and persistence) I had a brief spell in the Army, then trained and worked as a chef before talking my way into television, where I became a producer/director for the BBC. I am credited with bringing many of the top celebrity chefs to the small screen including Gordon Ramsay, Antony Worrall-Thompson, Brian Turner and James Martin, before founding a food and drink marketing company in London. I subsequently fulfilled my lifelong ambition to purchase a small farm in Devon, and have been responsible for one of the most successful food brand launches of recent times in the UK with my own range of meat and sauces under The Black Farmer® label.
Flavours without Frontiers – the promise offered by my products also goes some way to sum up my personality. I will not be confined by race, convention or tradition. I have strong opinions on issues such as rural affairs, justice for small producers and giving ethnic minorities more opportunity in the countryside, all of which have driven much media attention. I launched a rural scholarship scheme last year through which young people from inner city communities are given the opportunity to experience what it is really like to live and work in the rural community.
Why the Conservative Party?
I firmly believe in the power of the individual. When individuals are allowed to get on with it, they make a pretty good job of it. Some of the greatest problems arise in society when the State tells people what they should be doing with their lives. The Conservative Party is, I believe, a natural choice for anyone who wants to be left alone to get on with their lives. It allows the strong to forge ahead, but with a collective responsibility to look after those who are less fortunate. As a Conservative, I believe that you give back to society and to your local community. I have achieved what I have today because people were generous enough to believe in me and, more importantly, to give me opportunities.
Vision for the future
My vision for the future is that we have a society that not only encourages individuals but allows them to gain from their enterprise and be personally rewarded for their hard work. I want there to be a benefit to being small, with small groups of people getting a bigger slice of the cake. Public services are a necessity for the future as is a responsible attitude towards the environment. This is no longer the preserve of the ‘beard and sandal’ brigade, it’s a mainstream consideration and individuals should get personal benefit for doing their bit to save the environment.
I believe that small businesses are the backbone of our Society. Running your own business should be a cause for celebration rather than something that becomes a chore, burdened down by red tape. The best way to do this is by allowing them to be in a position to compete by encouraging the big supermarkets to buy British and local. People are simply not encouraged to run their own businesses as much as they should be.
Not least, I am a great believer that we should be confident to celebrate our Britishness. I would like an annual holiday that celebrates Britishness a British Day. As a nation we are always accepting of other faiths and traditions as they celebrate their important dates, but it is about time that we organised a day to celebrate our Britishness.
Globalisation has its benefits. But we should be mindful that as a country we need to be able to be self reliant. To that end I think its fundamental that we encourage our farmers and independent food producers. The best way to encourage farmers is by allowing them to be in a position to compete this means that more of the big supermarkets need to be encouraged to be buy British and local.