Lord Michael Farmer
“I started work at 18 as an £8 per week difference account clerk in a London Metal Exchange (LME) member firm; I became a Christian when I was 35; and in the last 10 years [now 16 years] I have been an active supporter of the Centre for Social Justice, especially of their policies which support families.”
He has spent his entire career in the City of London apart from a couple of secondments, the first to Frankfurt in what was then West Germany and the second to New York. Known as Mr Copper, he was highly influential in the world copper market and the largest merchant trader from the 1970s to the recent past, frequently accounting for between 15 and 20% of Chinese copper imports. As the LME is the global pricing mechanism for base metals, he had trading relationships with many countries particularly, prior to 1990, with the Soviet Union and, as mentioned, with China. Therefore he had to cultivate the skills to be able to negotiate in many different cultures.
He is also well-accustomed to navigating the ethical maze of global trading. In every firm he has established and managed he has tried to instill a culture that values family life, recognises the innate worth of every human being and upholds the importance of integrity and trust. These stem from the second key fact of his background – the Christian faith that came to him literally overnight when he was 35. He is the Christian Deputy Chair of the Council for Christians and Jews. He also speaks and teaches publicly from the bible several times a year.
His values profoundly influence the political battles he fights. His financial support for the Conservative Party began when there was an explicit commitment to a social justice agenda in general and a ‘strengthening families’ agenda in particular. ‘The first time I met [former Prime Minister] David Cameron,’ he recalls, ‘he asked me what was my “thing” in Politics. “Families”, I said, “the Government can and must do more to support family life.”’
Alongside metals trading and politics, he is also a committed farmer who owns a working farm in Hampshire. Given the need for post-Brexit environmental reforms to enable farming to flourish, this is another important area of parliamentary activity.