A former adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron has been announced as the Conservative who will attempt to unseat London’s left-wing Mayor Sadiq Khan.
London Assembly member Shaun Bailey (pictured, above right, with current and former cabinet ministers) was declared the winner in a ballot of Tory party members in the capital and will stand against Mr Khan in his first electoral test in May 2020.
Mr Bailey, 47, has never won a seat in Westminster, despite attempts, and has a comparatively low national profile.
Right-wing supporters, however, point out that unlike other Tory hopefuls he supported Brexit, backed an immigration cap, and has promised a “zero tolerance” approach to crime.
London’s crime wave is likely to dominate the contest in 2020, and Mr Bailey has vowed to put 1,000 more officers on the streets, slash City Hall bureaucracy to free up more money for policing, and crack down on “Drill” rap music glorifying violence in the capital.
He has previously slammed Mayor Kahn for a “lack of leadership” and “failing” on crime, and said the rise in violent offences in the capital is because of the Mayors “choices” in office, not cuts.
As someone who grew up in a council house in one of the poorest parts of London, securing the nomination to be the next Conservative Mayoral candidate is proof that in our great city, anything is possible.
— Shaun Bailey AM (@ShaunBaileyUK) September 28, 2018
Jamaican heritage Bailey said after being nominated: “I came from one of the poorest areas of London where I’ve seen the blight of crime on people’s lives.
“When we talk about social mobility of young people it’s impossible for them to move forward if they live in a crime-riddled environment.
“If you want to help people in London they’ve got to suffer as little crime as possible.”
Left wing papers have already attacked him for pushing cuts to public spending when he worked for Mr Cameron and even claimed he is guilty of “Islamophobia” for a Tweet he shared on Mr Khan in 2017.
Shaun Bailey- The Tory candidate for London mayor – retweeted a post last year that included a reference to Sadiq Khan as the “mad mullah… https://t.co/Tm3XYaseMV
— Naz Shah MP (@NazShahBfd) September 28, 2018
Former Prime Minister and self-declared “liberal conservative” Mr Camron wished Mr Bailey “many congratulations.”
He added: “I’ve known Shaun for many years. He’s a great campaigner, a passionate advocate for our capital city [and] will provide a strong voice for Londoners.”
Mr Bailey worked as a special adviser to Mr Cameron on youth and crime before moving to the Cabinet Office to work on the National Citizen Service scheme.
He won a seat in the London Assembly in 2015 and ran as an MP for the Tories in Lewisham West at the 2017 General Election, losing out to the Labour party.
Mr Khan’s approval rating recently slumped to its lowest level on record after a summer of surging violence in the capital, crashing to just a fifth of its previous level earlier in the year.
Philip Cowley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University, who worked on the polling, argued that Mr Khan can be beaten at the mayoral election in May 2020 if he faces a strong Tory candidate.