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‘It’s my role to put my head above the parapet and show Black people we can be anywhere we like’: Shaun Bailey on running against Sadiq Khan to be London Mayor

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Get together candidate for London mayor, could also be trailing 12 factors behind Labour’s Sadiq Khan in his bid to be elected on Thursday 6 Could. It’s even been reported that his failure is such a foregone conclusion, Tory MPs have been suggested to not marketing campaign for Bailey and that there have been strikes to deselect him prior to now 10 months. If that is so, and with unlikely candidates – together with actor Laurence Fox and US podcaster Brian Rose additionally working – it appears that evidently Sadiq is heading for a landslide win. And but, Bailey’s not taking it mendacity down.

We meet on Zoom (the place else?), the place he’s charismatic, energetic and straightforward to speak to, though unrehearsed and off the cuff, in comparison with Sadiq, whom I additionally interviewed not too long ago. Bailey’s marketing campaign has been problematic from the beginning, each in that he’s been unclear in his messaging and in addition in his refusal to apologise for among the inappropriate feedback he’s made prior to now. These vary from victim-blaming girls relating to domestic violence (when he mentioned “restore ought to begin with the ladies… if you may get the ladies to just accept much less of males’s garbage then males must change”) to his suggestion that teenage moms pushed individuals who “do the appropriate factor” down the housing ladder, and claiming that homeless Londoners might save as much as a £5k deposit for a mortgage.

Bailey, now 50, was born in North Kensington to a British Jamaican household. As a younger man he gained a level in computer-aided engineering, and spent some years unemployed and homeless. He’s admitted to committing housebreaking in his youth, and drawing on his personal experiences is now massive on tackling knife tradition. In 2006 he co-founded the charity MyGeneration to assist younger individuals, however it closed attributable to monetary issues in 2012. He’d already caught the attention of David Cameron and have become his particular adviser on youth and crime from 2010 to 2013. He stood unsuccessfully as Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith in 2010 and Lewisham West and Penge in 2017. He’s married to Ellie and has two youngsters.

Taking all of this under consideration, why does he assume he can do higher as mayor? “London wants a recent begin. We have been transferring within the flawed course for 4 and a half years now. I wished to be a part of the response to that. My life, I might prefer to imagine, has been characterised by representing individuals, getting concerned, stepping out, placing my head above the parapet. We have had main challenges in London round crime, round housing, round transport, round a inexperienced agenda, all these issues have been main. And though we’ve got plenty of benefits as London, we’re not utilizing them appropriately, for my part. I believe we might do extra.”

His predominant ardour, it appears, is tackling crime, having been a former youth employee himself for a few years. We converse a few weeks after Sarah Everard’s homicide so I’m concerned about how he’s going to make ladies really feel protected on the streets of London. One in all his massive guarantees is 8,000 extra police officers on the streets. I inform him it’s all very properly bringing on extra police, however how will he deal with the systemic misogyny inside the power, and the methods wherein ladies are mistreated by the justice system, as so typically, ladies aren’t believed.

“However once I discuss 8,000 cops,” he continues, “essentially the most progressive a part of that’s, how will we recruit people who find themselves not the same old suspects? Which is successfully males. And whenever you come at it from a Black group angle, you then realise, the police should go to completely different locations. The place are ladies who might probably have an interest within the police power? Do you at present go and recruit in these locations? And the reply might be ‘no’. So let’s change that.

“What number of senior cops are ladies? When persons are planning a police operation, the place’s the voice of girls in that planning?”

I level out {that a} lady – Dame Cressida Dick – is at present main the Met police, and that hasn’t helped ladies to really feel any safer.

“You are utterly proper,” Bailey replies. “However what that lady main the police service wants is increasingly ladies to be chatting with inside the power. As a result of you’ll be able to put one individual in, and so they might be essentially the most senior individual, that does not drive tradition change. Tradition change is about being round individuals. Clearly, as a Black man in London, you’ll be able to think about the relationships with the police… In case you seemed on the Stephen Lawrence case, I keep in mind saying to a neighborhood police officer: “I ponder what number of of these cops had any relationship with a Black individual. It may need modified the entire means they take a look at it.”

One in all Bailey’s pledges is for a CCTV rollout on public transport to assist defend ladies. However once more, there’s a difficulty that loads of the ladies I’ve spoken to, even once they go and report crime on the Tube, it’s not taken critically by employees. Ladies are kicked off buses at night time and left stranded for not having sufficient cash. There’s not that understanding of the scenario that ladies are discovering themselves in, even when it’s seen or reported.

“Yeah,” he says. “So should you take a look at the time and vitality that is being put into unconscious bias coaching, we might and may put the identical stage of effort into defending ladies, understanding the angle they arrive from.

“I used to run a charity, I have been a youth employee for 20-odd years, and I keep in mind when a lady got here to me and mentioned, ‘Proper, we will begin a ladies’ group.’ Now, what was attention-grabbing, they by no means requested permission. They instructed me they have been going to begin a ladies’ group. And naturally, you are this massive man, a 13-year-old woman bursts into your workplace and tells you what is going on to occur, and I keep in mind pondering to myself, ‘OK.’ However that was an academic piece for me, and we’re speaking 20, 25-odd years in the past. I sat in that group and heard so many various tales about individuals simply not understanding what the stress is to be a lady. And clearly, as a person, you are strolling by the universe, you do not know.”

I ask what he thinks concerning the Conservative Get together’s failings of their portrayal of girls, pondering particularly of the Authorities’s recent sexist ad campaign asking individuals to remain at dwelling in the course of the pandemic, which featured illustrations of girls ironing and taking care of youngsters.

“Earlier than this interview somebody talked to me about this and mentioned, ‘What are you going to say about Conservatives and ladies’s rights?’ I mentioned, ‘Maintain on, let’s take a look at Labour.’ In case you return to the union motion, all by the ’70s, they ran a large marketing campaign to maintain ladies at dwelling. Their motto was, ‘Pay males extra so ladies can keep at dwelling.’ It was a large marketing campaign, and no one talks about it.” His remark doesn’t appear to understand the irony that these views of girls do belong within the ’70s.

Likewise, the Conservative Get together hasn’t traditionally been a pure match for the Black group – does Bailey really feel any rigidity being a Black man and representing a celebration that has been traditionally thought of anti-immigration?

“I can’t inform you what number of occasions I get requested this. I do not wish to deny the historical past, I am not a lunatic. There may be historical past there that must be overcome. Folks speak to me about ‘Rivers of Blood’ speeches. And I am going to say to them, ‘So let us take a look at Enoch Powell, as an illustration, he made that speech in 1968 and he was sacked. I am not telling you the Conservatives have been excellent round race, as a result of they have not. However the level is, Labour have not been made to pay for [their past] in the identical means.”

“I really feel that my position is to place my head above the parapet and present Black individuals we might be wherever we like, easy as that. I at all times ask individuals, ‘Present me the place our fortunes modified by giving all of our political energy to the Labour Get together?’ As a result of it is simply by no means occurred. The underside line is that this, should you’re on the appropriate, as a result of we’re associating with people who find themselves profitable, you’re held to a better normal. And I see that, that is proper. You wish to just be sure you do not solely deal with those that are socially highly effective. I get that. However what it is meant is, loads of Labour and left-wingers, let me use that time period, have been in a position to get away with issues and never be scrutinised in the identical means.”

“[Jeremy] Corbyn as soon as mentioned solely Labour might launch the expertise within the Black group. I keep in mind my mum saying, ‘Properly, what the hell does he assume I have been doing for the final 70 years?’ [Labour] have forged us as victims, and so they’ve typically tried to make us militant.

Has Bailey personally skilled systemic racism or classism inside the Conservatives, I ask?

“I can’t specific to you ways determined individuals [in the party] are to assist me. There have been 61 individuals who ran to be the Conservative mayoral candidate. Most likely six of them have been Black, however the winner was Black. And make no mistake, I wasn’t chosen by the get together, I used to be chosen by the members, they’d a alternative. Within the closing have been three of us, and I used to be the one Black individual, and right here I’m. Black individuals wish to be mainstream, which suggests being in all places on the political spectrum, not simply in a single nook.”

With that, our attention-grabbing – if considerably chaotic – dialog involves an finish. I go away our assembly liking Shaun Bailey, however not fairly satisfied by what he has to say, and I’m not too involved for Sadiq’s probabilities. I ask him for a photograph. He obliges and grabs a hoop mild to make sure essentially the most flattering picture – however not earlier than including:

“You already know, Deborah, my proudest factor about being a Londoner? I’ve gone from being homeless and unemployed to the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. That may be a very lengthy and tortuous journey. However I am proud that it could possibly occur in London.”

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