Melanie McDonagh

Boris should be ashamed of his treatment of Shaun Bailey

Boris should be ashamed of his treatment of Shaun Bailey
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What with all the excitement about Hartlepool and the understandable fuss about Scotland, there’s one aspect of the elections that seems to have passed everyone by, and that’s the result of the mayoral contest in London. 

You may have missed it: Sadiq Khan won, with 1.2 million votes. But the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey, did really unexpectedly well, with 977,601 votes. In some constituencies in outer London, he beat Sadiq comfortably; in other central London areas, he ran him really close, leaving the most predictably metrosexual or Corbynite areas to give Sadiq his majority. So Bailey got not far off a million votes. Just think what he might have done if Boris and the bigwigs had actually come out to support him.

It was nice to hear Boris visited Hartlepool in person two or three times. That’s probably as many times as he managed to campaign with Shaun Bailey, who was right on his doorstep, bidding to occupy precisely the same position Boris graced twice. I may, of course, have blinked and missed it, but the high powered people, starting with Boris, were conspicuous by their absence from the mayoral campaign. 

Obviously, Tories had the Red Wall in their sights, but it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to tramp the pavements in a socially distanced way for a candidate who was actually within walking distance or just, you know, give him vociferous backing. 

The last time I wrote about this the word was – true or not, it was indicative – that the party was thinking of pulling funding from Shaun Bailey on the basis that he wasn’t going to win. Well, here’s a thing…he could have won, or closed the gap dramatically, with better backing. In the first round there was five points separating the candidates; in the second, there was ten. Not such a landslide then. And bear in mind that everyone had an extra year because of Covid to prepare for the contest – the Tories were hardly lacking time to think through policy.

Compare and contrast with the last mayoral election when comely Zac Goldsmith was the candidate, and you couldn’t get near him for the number of leggy, well connected Tory females around him, plus the heavyweights from Central Office who threw their weight behind the campaign. 

What, do you suppose, made the difference between the treatment of Old Etonian, blond, blue-eyed, Zac, brother of Jemima, son of Annabel, and Shaun Bailey, black, state schooled, from the bit of North Kensington where Tories don’t come from? 

The lesson is that if you want the backing of Boris and Tory HQ you’d better be one of them – you know, socially liberal, perhaps a friend of Carrie’s, into the environment, public schooled, not terribly keen on talking about family and heterosexual marriage and knife crime and the importance of fathers, and socially at ease with the inner circle.

Boris owes Shaun Bailey. He treated him shabbily and he should be ashamed of himself. As I’ve said before, Bailey should be treated properly in the next election and given a winnable seat unlike previously: Beckenham rather than Penge, Kensington rather than Hammersmith. 

Meanwhile, there’s been another interesting development in London’s alarming incidence of violent crime, Shaun Bailey’s main focus – a brawl and a stabbing in Selfridges, that flagship store where rather fashionable people go. Crime is coming closer to the elite…maybe then they’ll take it seriously.