Conservatives in London must use the forthcoming 2020 mayoral campaign to broaden their appeal to younger people and the city’s ethnic minorities, according to one the capital’s most experienced Tory MPS.
Bob Neill, the MP for Bromley & Chislehurst and a former London Assembly Member, told the Sunday Politics London, “What we’ve got to do is get out there. We’ve retreated a little bit into our suburban redoubts. We’ve got to be out in the whole of London.”
Speaking after party members had nominated Shaun Bailey, 47, a former adviser to David Cameron and an AM since 2016, as their candidate to challenge Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, Neill said fellow Tories need to be “much more open minded as a party” and be “talking to the diverse communities in London” and to younger people – both of them groups who tend to strongly favour Labour.
“It is really important that people are not put off voting Conservative because of their background,” Neill said. Although he had backed runner up Andrew Boff in the selection contest, Neill congratulated Bailey on his nomination, saying that as someone who “worked and lived both in Inner and Outer London” he was well-placed to appeal to Londoners who don’t normally vote Conservative. “It is really important that people are not put off voting Conservative because of their background,” he said and emphasised the number of “magnificent business” being run by ethnic minority entrepreneurs.
Bailey, who is black, was brought up in North Kensington and made his reputation as a youth worker, carries hopes that he can personify a different and distinctive form of Conservatism in the capital that is more in tune with a majority of Londoners and so help reverse a long term decline in Tory electoral fortunes.
Neill, regarded as a socially liberal Conservative, has been critical of Zac Goldsmith’s 2016 mayoral campaign for the Tories, which used media allies to suggest that Khan, a Muslim, had links with extremists. Khan won the election comfortably, leaving a number of London Tories, Boff included, questioning the tactics used.
Bob Neill appeared in the video supporting the On London crowdfunding campaign held earlier this year. Read a Q&A with him here. Watch his contribution to Sunday Politics London (30 September 2018) from about 18 minutes via here.