'I'm not a career politician': Harold Hill's Shaun Bailey discusses plans for Havering as Conservative mayoral candidate
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:08 30 January 2019
London Assembly member Shaun Bailey, from Harold Hill was elected as the Conservative Party's candidate to face the mayor of London Sadiq Khan in the city's 2020 mayoral election.
He has since come under fire in the media for comments on single mothers and multiculturalism.
In a report he wrote for the Centre for Policy Studies in 2005 he said that single motherhood is “wrongly assumed to be acceptable” and that giving contraception to young people encouraged them to have sex.
“There are things that were widely taken out of context,” said Shaun.
“I’m not the slickest politician and we’re talking about something I said 14 years ago when I was having a very particular conversation.
“If I caused people any pain and if I’m wrong, I have to fess up.”
He added: “To anybody who reads this, you can reassure yourselves that I’m always here to help. If anybody has tough questions, I encourage people to voice them. I’m not a career politician. I’m just trying to help more people.”
Shaun, who was a special adviser on youth and crime to former Tory prime minister David Cameron, said that crime one of the issues he hopes to tackle as mayor.
He told the Recorder: “I’ve done a lot of work moving young people away from crime.
“I think there’s two points - the first is about pursuing criminals. We need to be chasing them down and getting them arrested.
“A lot of people turn to crime through desperation, but there’s also the other side to it, which is about giving young people more opportunities.”
Shaun recently spent time at OnSide’s Barking and Dagenham Youth Zone, a new purpose built facility for young people.
He’s been in discussions with Havering Council to see if a similar project might come to the borough.
“I’ve worked as a youth worker for 20 years and I technically still do it now,” said Shaun.
“We used to talk to older people in the community to say it’s also their responsibility to be a role model for younger people in their community.”
Speaking about the difficulty of funding youth projects and community centres, Shaun added: “It’s all about choices. [The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan] needs to stop spending so much money on his own office. Where you spend your money shows you where your priorities are.”
The 47-year-old grew up in the Ladbroke Grove area of West London.
“I moved to Harold Hill because I wanted to live in a family environment. I wanted to be near the library and to be able to spend my money locally. What I really like about Harold Hill is the growing diversity.
“I was recently talking to a group of teenagers at the skateboard bowl in Central Park where I often take my son.
“They always say to me ‘you live in one of those big houses’. But I was in shared ownership for a long time, I was homeless for a while and had to couch surf. I ended up having to do help-to-buy to get my own house so I understand their pain.”
The father-of-two explained that he disagrees with how Mr Khan has allowed for an increase in the building of tower blocks in the suburbs.
He said: “I live in an outer London borough so I understand.
“People keep telling us to take tons of housing, but you can’t give us all the housing and none of the infrastructure.”
Shaun added that he is onboard with Brexit: “We all want London to work, so we need people to stop talking the city down and for the uncertainty to end.
“I think we just need to focus on London’s future.”