London Calling. The clash over the Tory candidate in London

London Calling. The clash over the Tory candidate in London

I’ve always found Shaun Bailey underwhelming and this report in The FT earlier on this week came as no surprise.

The Conservative party’s candidate for next year’s delayed London mayoral election has lost the support of senior party officials and donors, with some keen to see him replaced by a prominent name such as former chancellor Sajid Javid.

Shaun Bailey, a former youth worker and one of the party’s leading black figures, was selected to take on Labour mayor Sadiq Khan two years ago, but has struggled to make headway.

The job of running the British capital city is seen as one of the top jobs in British politics, coming with a high profile and offering a launch pad to even bigger political roles. UK prime minister Boris Johnson held the post between 2008 and 2016.

Amid growing doubts over Mr Bailey’s ability to beat Mr Khan in the election — postponed a year to next May due to the coronavirus pandemic — several senior Conservative party figures have now told the Financial Times they would like to see an alternative candidate run.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Bailey’s campaign admitted that it was “no secret” that “a very small number of people around the [Tory] party would have preferred someone more familiar”.

But the spokesperson added: “Nobody in the Conservative party is stupid enough to try to drop Shaun just when he has been landing blows on Sadiq Khan over his failures over TfL and public safety, and when our capital has an opportunity to elect its first black Mayor at a time when bringing people together has never been more important.”

Nevertheless, party figures said that in recent weeks, discreet conversations with Mr Javid about whether he would be interested in standing in the capital instead of Mr Bailey had taken place.

Mr Javid declined, according to those with knowledge of the situation. Both Number 10 Downing Street and a spokesperson for Mr Javid denied any approach was made.

That speculation has arisen about replacing Shaun Bailey is usually the sign of a doomed campaign, he’s in danger of making Zac Goldsmith look good. In the four polls conducted for the London Mayoral race by YouGov Sadiq Khan’s lead has ranged between 20% and 27% on the first round alone. Had Rory Stewart not withdrawn from this race I wouldn’t have ruled out Stewart finishing ahead of Bailey in the first round.

In defence of Shaun Bailey I don’t think any Tory can win the London Mayorship with the way London demography is these days, a very cosmopolitan and internationalist city doesn’t seem like fertile country for the Brexit delivering Tory Party, that’s even before you consider the baggage of the government’s handling of the pandemic. For those reasons I cannot see any ‘big beast’ Tory name stepping forward to replace Shaun Bailey.

Standing as the Tory candidate in the London Mayoral election is going to lead to a humiliating experience similar to hiring a hundred dominatrices concurrently. Ladbrokes are currently offering 50/1 on Sajid Javid (and the same odds on George Osborne) to win the mayoralty next year, I’m not even interested, even as trading bets. Laying the Tories in London is my strategy.


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