The Conservative mayoral candidate for Doncaster says that despite formerly working at Goldman Sachs, working in the financial industry, and having the means to stand in four elections he is working class and understands the lives of people in Doncaster.
George Jabbour, originally from Syria, moved to the country in 2004 to study financial services and then remained in Britain as a highly skilled migrant. Writing in the past about how he is amongst one of the most unpopular people in the country because he is an immigrant and works in the financial services, he now says he wants to apply these skills to Doncaster.
But the current Doncaster mayoral candidate has a long history of standing for election. Since 2014 he has stood for election in Scotland for a parliamentary seat, Wales for the Assembly, tried to be selected for the London Assembly, and also stood in Northern Ireland.
Strongly denying that he is parachuting into constituencies to win a seat at any cost, he says: “The full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. As a proud conservative I am very passionate about the precious bond between all parts of our country.
“It was not a coincidence that I chose to live and stand as a candidate in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. All four parts of the United Kingdom is what makes our country strong.”
When asked about the current cynical view people have about politics, how they are just interested in power, he protests and says it’s completely unfair in his case.
“The Conservative Party is about work and I challenge if there is any other politician who has worked harder or campaigned harder [than me]. Candidates don’t get paid, they volunteer. I am not a politician, I am a volunteer campaigner.”
“It is not the case that the Conservative Party tells me what to do. It is me who proactively understands the different issues facing our country.”
“I am determined to use my skills, experience and background to serve the country that gave me a home, an education, a job, and empowered me to set up my own small business.”
Jabbour says previous experience means he’s best for job
He says he is standing in Doncaster, as he has done in his other contests, because of his business and engineering background.
“I would like to use this experience to serve the people of our town, create more jobs, to increase investment to Doncaster attract businesses and explore the opportunities that Brexit offers.
“Over the past seven years a Conservative government has successfully and competently managed the economy, public services and created millions of jobs”.
But he says that Doncaster has been left behind, blaming the Labour-run council for its decline.
Blaming the Labour mayor, who has been criticised for spending £20 million on external consultants, he says: “Labour’s attitude to wasting public money is not only wasted on fees paid to local consultants. I will use my business experience to achieve value for money, clean up Doncaster’s finances and cut the waste.”
But when pressed, he is only able to account for the £20 million of “waste”. Other than that he can only say that they’ll be “so many other items” where the council can use competition to decrease costs.
With a constant Conservative record of competence managing the economy, with growth slowing and the disruptive effect of Brexit, he insists that the Tories have made the British economy a resilient one.
“Obviously, as with anything in the world, there is a lot of uncertainty.
“I’ve worked in the financial industry in the past and it’s very difficult trying to predict the economy, but what you can do is predict your own affairs as a government to make sure that you are more robust and withstand any shocks that are unexpected.
“Not a fat cat bankster”
Mr Jabbour is evasive about his business experience, preferring to say that he is a small businessman rather than a former Goldman Sachs employee who continues to work in the banking sector.
“I am not a fat cat bankster,” he says. Saying Goldman Sachs used to exploit the public sector for profit, Mr Jabbour set up a “small business” in 2009 to advise public sector organisations to understand complex financial mechanisms they have entered.
When asked how his investment background would mean he understands the predominantly working class Doncaster, Mr Jabbour insists he knows a lot about people’s lives in the town.
“I understand the ethos of the different groups in our country more than anyone else, simply because I have spent more time speaking with people, understanding their issues.
“In Doncaster I get on very well with people, and if you go into the pubs you will see how well we get on together … I’m an immigrant, so you can’t put me in a class here or there. I think I am as working class as anyone here.”
“I am very optimistic about this election. If you compare what different candidates can offer, you end up with a two horse race between Labour and the Conservatives. You can’t tell me that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are more connected to the concerns of the local people here in Doncaster than myself or the Conservative Party, in fact I would say it’s the opposite.”