The Conservative candidate for Mayor of London committed burglary with a group of friends during his adolescence, according to an account of his childhood he gave to a BBC radio programme in 2008.
A subject of the Radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In, Shaun Bailey, now a London Assembly Member, described a period of his adolescence in North Kensington when, in his own words in the programme, “I had a particular group of friends who indulged in a burglary. I had done it with them.”
Bailey made the disclosure in the course of describing how joining the Army Cadets provided him with an alternative to sliding into persistent criminality. Referring again to committing burglary he said: “I had done it with them [his friends] before, but when I was coming to the end of my little criminal activity they did a burglary that I wasn’t at, and that was the beginning of the end for at least two of them. And I was at Salisbury Plain [with the Cadets at the time]. I was running over Salisbury Plain with people yelling at me, ‘Come on, come on’.”
Asked by the programme presenter to confirm that he meant he would otherwise have participated in the further burglary, Bailey replied: “For sure.”
Bailey, who was born in 1971, also told the programme what course he thought his life would have taken had he not joined the Cadets. “I hope I would have escaped prison and that sort of lifestyle, but I don’t think I would have done,” he said.
Though still listed on the BBC website, the episode of The House I Grew Up In featuring Bailey, which was last broadcast in December 2014, is not currently available on BBC iPlayer. However, On London possesses a copy of the programme on a compact disc.
Bailey rose to prominence as a commentator on youth crime and social issues, adding a conservative voice to the debate about juvenile criminality, particularly among young black males. He had already become involved with the Centre for Policy Studies think tank and authored a pamphlet for a youth-related subsidiary of it, published in November 2005 and entitled “No Man’s Land – How Britain’s inner city young are being failed.”
In it, Bailey drew on personal experience to argue that contemporary liberal attitudes, the poor quality of council housing estates, a retreat from Christian values, a “culture of dependency”, a lack of strong male role models and a consequent attraction to gang culture were to blame for many of the problems he had witnessed among peers and which he was by then seeking to combat through local charity initiatives.
A section on multiculturalism, lately seized on by other media, argues that the effect of recognising Muslim and Hindu cultural practices through days off work is to “rob Britain of its community” and that, “without our community we slip into a crime riddled cesspool”. A spokesperson for Bailey has responded that it is “ludicrous” to suggest that Bailey, “a descendant of the Windrush generation” is anything other than sympathetic to “the challenges faced by BAME [black and minority ethnic] communities.”
In 2010 Bailey contested the marginal west London parliamentary seat of Hammersmith for the Conservatives, but though heavily promoted as representing a new, more inclusive Tory party under the leadership of David Cameron and enjoying substantial financial backing, he failed to gain the then newly-formed seat at the expense of Labour’s Andy Slaughter.