Who is Shaun Bailey? Inside the life of controversial Tory London mayor candidate

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On Wednesday, Shaun Bailey was accused of “politicising” the disappearance of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman missing in London whose case has shocked the nation. Taking to social media, Mr Bailey wrote that as a “father and husband”, Sarah’s case “breaks” him, but, if he was mayor, he would “ensure that we are working to deliver for the safety of women and girls in London”. He was immediately criticised for the tweet, with Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Luisa Porritt calling it “grotesque”.

So who is Shaun Bailey?

Shaun Bailey, 49, is a born and bred Londoner, originally from North Kensington.

He was born into a British Jamaican family, with his grandfather coming to the UK from Jamaica in 1947 as part of the Windrush generation.

Mr Bailey attended Henry Compton School in Fulham and spent ten years after school in the Cadets.

Aged 27, he graduated with a degree in computer engineering from London South Bank University, working as a security guard to fund his tuition.

He has been open about the challenges of growing up in London social housing and how it has influenced his politics, claiming at least 12 members of his peer group spent time in prison growing up.

In May 2006, Mr Bailey co-founded MyGeneration, a charity addressing the social problems that affect struggling young people and their families.

Shortly after, he was selected by the Conservative Party to stand in the Hammersmith constituency of West London but failed to win the seat at the 2010 general election.

Unsuccessful attempts to stand as a candidate followed in 2015 and 2017, but Mr Bailey continued working as a researcher and government adviser, acting as a special adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron on youth and crime.

In October 2015, Bailey was selected as the third Conservative candidate on the London Assembly top-up list.

He is currently deputy leader of the Conservative Greater London Authority Group and was elected as the Conservative candidate for London Mayor in 2018, with the election due to be held in May 2021.

In 2007, Mr Bailey, with his wife Ellie and their two children, moved out of social housing and into a house owned jointly with a housing association.

He said at the time: “The mice and damp got a bit much”.

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While Mr Bailey has said he has the direct support of Boris Johnson himself, his career has not been without controversy.

In 2010, The Times reported that Mr Bailey was at the centre of allegations that his North Kensington-based charity showed £16,000 worth of spending “without any supporting records”, with almost half of the charity’s expenditure was on publicity and administration, not “direct charitable expenditure”.

The charity was closed in 2012 due to financial problems.

Mr Bailey has also been subjected to racism during his political career.

In 2010, Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad referred to him as a “token ghetto boy” for the Conservatives in a blog, which she later apologised for.

Other scandals have been dredged up during Mr Bailey’s mayoral campaign.

In particular, a pamphlet entitled No Man’s Land, written by Mr Bailed for the Centre for Policy Studies in 2005, has provided some alarming insight and led to Mr Bailey being accused of Islamophobia, Hinduphobia and sexism.

In it, he wrote that celebrating Muslim and Hindu festivals “[robs] Britain of its community” and risked turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”.

He also claimed that good-looking girls “tend to have been around” and will be more likely to have sexually transmitted infections.

Challenged over these comments in an interview with Sky in 2019, he said it had been an attempt to challenge myths in a poor community where young men live in a sexualised environment.

In 2008, Mr Bailey made further derogatory remarks about women, this time speaking on Woman’s Hour about female MPs.

In the Radio 4 interview, Mr Bailey was asked why so few women were standing to become MPs. He said: “Many women are too clever to get into politics.

“They look in, see the nonsense and find something else to do with their time. That’s the real thing.”

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After being challenged by the presenter, Jane Garvey, for holding views that were “slightly patronising”, he said many women chose not to make the step from councillor to possible MP.

He said: “Often they then decide ‘I’m not going to become an MP because this has been rough in all the wrong ways, and if I’m going to go on and make a career, I’d rather not, there are other ways to enjoy myself in this world.’

“At the end of the day we’re making the assumption that there are hundreds of thousands of women that are wanting to become MPs – I’m not sure that’s true.”

The Labour Party has revisited these claims during the mayoral campaign, calling Mr Bailey’s views “pre-historic”.

Mr Bailey’s team have rejected the claim, saying Labour is “once again trying to spin quotes out of context”.

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