The last thing London needs is Shaun Bailey’s brand of cold and uncaring politics

As a single mum and someone who left school at 16, I’ve found some of his previous comments disparaging. The city deserves better

Angela Rayner
Monday 03 May 2021 16:50
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London goes to the poll on Thursday
London goes to the poll on Thursday

As a former care home worker, single mum and someone who left school at 16, I’ve always felt a sense of pride at seeing people from working-class backgrounds do well against the odds.

This is especially true in politics, which needs to be much more representative of working-class communities, in all of our diversity.

Luckily for Londoners, they have a Labour mayor who understands the very real struggles faced by everyday people. The son of a bus driver, Sadiq Khan has overcome countless barriers to go from growing up on a council estate to representing one of the greatest cities in the world.

I have seen first-hand how this journey has shaped who he is and the values he stands for – fairness, hard work and equality of opportunity.

Above all else, Sadiq is motivated by a burning desire to ensure that all Londoners get the same opportunities to get on in life that were given to him and his family. Whether it’s an affordable home, a decent state school education or secure jobs, he’s always stood up for the things that mean the most to those who have the least.

As mayor, Sadiq has started building record numbers of council homes. He’s cut toxic air pollution, which hits the poorest communities the hardest, by almost a half. And he’s made transport more affordable for millions of Londoners.

The difference between Sadiq and the Conservative candidate for mayor couldn’t be starker. Whereas Sadiq has sought to invest in Londoners and help them get on in life, the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey, has only worked to pull up the ladder and make it much harder for others to follow.

As a youth and crime adviser to David Cameron, Bailey was instrumental in overseeing massive cuts to policing and youth services. By contrast, Sadiq has been both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime – putting more than 1,000 extra police officers on the streets and investing in youth and sports clubs.

Sadiq has been unapologetic in standing up for London’s communities and celebrating the city’s diversity. His Tory opponent, on the other hand, has a history of talking down women and stigmatising working-class communities.

Bailey has previously said we need to “get away from this idea that it’s acceptable to be a single mother”. Cheers love, from this Rt Hon single mum.

He has previously said he believes that multiculturalism is turning our country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”. And he has claimed that “a culture of dependency rules the working class” and that “poor people need direction”. I would say his ultra-conservative views were positively Victorian, but I think I’d be doing a disservice to the Victorians.

His brand of cold and uncaring Conservatism is the opposite of what modern and progressive cities like London are all about.

Angela Rayner is deputy leader and chair of the Labour Party and shadow first secretary of state. She is also the party’s MP for Ashton-under-Lyne

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