Conservative London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey accused of 'worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny'

Controversial politician hailed the days when teachers were male

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Monday 07 January 2019 19:07 GMT
Mr Bailey voiced concerns about underage girls accessing abortions without parental involvement
Mr Bailey voiced concerns about underage girls accessing abortions without parental involvement

The Conservative candidate for London Mayor Shaun Bailey has been accused of the “worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny” after an old interview resurfaced in which he praised male teachers for instilling discipline.

Mr Bailey, who has previously found himself at the centre of an Islamophobia row, also argued distributing contraception at schools encouraged teenage pregnancy and voiced concerns about teenage girls accessing abortions without parental involvement.

Mr Bailey, who will take on the current Labour mayor Sadiq Khan in the 2020 election, made the remarks in a 2007 interview with the Sunday Times discussing youth discipline.

He said: “When I was a kid, there was none of that PC nonsense. If you were wrong, they told you so. The teachers were men, then."

Returning to the theme later, he added: “Our teachers were men, and we looked up to them. It was not a democracy. In today's drive for children's rights, we've forgotten to give them responsibility."

However, discussing the positive impact gymnastics had had on his life, the then-charity worker told the paper: "I see the boys I work with now and wish they had the same.

"There's a lot of misogyny in working-class communities, often because the boys are quite separate from the girls. At the gym, the leading lights were all women. They weren't just girls but real people to me."

The Conservative also vented his frustrations about teenage pregnancy, arguing the state did not grant parents enough authority over children.

“A classic example is, you’re meant to get your 14-year-old daughter to school, and if you don’t, you’re in trouble,” he said. “And yet your 14-year-old daughter can have an abortion without you knowing. Who is in charge?”

Addressing the practice of handing out contraceptives at school, he said: “We do not do enough to deter our teenagers from becoming parents.

“In fact, we positively encourage it. What kind of message does the fact that we hand out condoms to children as young as 13 send out?”

Labour MP Seema Malhotra accused Mr Bailey of holding “backward views straight out of the 1950s laced with the worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny” after the interview re-surfaced.

“Londoners deserve much better than a mayoral candidate with such a long and hideous track record of misogyny and divisiveness," the MP for Feltham and Heston added.

Mr Khan's office declined to comment. The Independent has contacted Mr Bailey for comment.

Mr Bailey became embroiled in an Islamophobia row last September after he shared a tweet that meant thousands of his followers saw a message referring to Mr Khan as the “mad mullah Khan of Londonistan”.

He retweeted a post in 2017 which had shared a picture of Mr Khan and a racist caption which also branded Labour as “anti-British”.

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At the time, the Conservative Party said there was “no way” Mr Bailey would have seen the offensive caption on the image before sharing the post, as to do so a user has to click to open it.

“As The Independent’s screenshot shows, these grossly offensive words were in no way visible in the chain that was retweeted,” a spokesperson for Mr Bailey said.

“Shaun was completely unaware of their existence, and as someone who has suffered racial abuse himself, there is no way on earth Shaun would ever knowingly have shared something so offensive.”

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