Labour’s campaign machine in London says it is well prepared for meeting the mayoral election challenge of London Assembly Member Shaun Bailey, who has been announced as the Conservative candidate for 2020, with one source close to Sadiq Khan’s administration declaring, “We are ready.”
Bailey secured the Tory nomination ahead of fellow AM Andrew Boff and Ealing councillor Joy Morrissey, securing a decisive 53 per cent of the vote in the second round of counting. He received a final total 3,904 votes to Boff’s 3,186 after Morrissey was eliminated and second preference votes were added in.
In a sign that Labour will seek to neutralise Bailey’s already clear attempts to make crime the key election issue, Marsha de Cordova, Labour MP for the marginal Battersea seat in Wandsworth, where Bailey will hope to do well, has immediately described Bailey as complicit in coalition government cuts to the capital’s police and youth services when working as a special adviser to David Cameron when he was prime minister.
Bailey was tipped as a rising star of a rebranded Tories under Cameron, but failed to capture the target marginal Hammersmith constituency in the 2010 general election (and finished a distant second in the safe Labour seat of Lewisham West & Penge in the general election last year).
Elected to the Assembly for the first time in 2016, Bailey has no other London government experience. Some senior London Tories have expressed doubts that he has the political weight to seriously trouble Khan, though his admirers consider him a refreshing and likeable break from Tory convention, and that his working-class background and past involvement with youth charity work give him credibility and a popular touch.
Conservatives will take hope from Mayor Khan’s recent fall in popularity as measured by a recent YouGov poll, but the same survey showed Labour as a party continuing to enjoy a massive lead over the Tories in London.
Announcing his selection, Bailey said he will “run a positive campaign” to be “based on security, operunity and hope” and repeated his message that “we need a London where criminals are put under pressure”. He added that “although some might wish it this campaign isn’t the time to revisit old battle or the venue to settle old scores,” a possible reference to opponents’ excavations of past actions, which are already underway.
The numbers of votes cast in the Tory selection ballot gives an indication of Labour’s advantage “ground force” operations for elections. Bailey and Boff received around 7,000 votes from Tory members between them after second preferences were added. In Labour’s 2015 candidate selection race, Khan received 17,518 first preference votes alone from Labour members in London, rising to 24,938 in a five-round count plus 17,179 registered supporters.