Culture Thoughts

Why I (as a Black Female Londoner) did not vote for Shaun Bailey

Those of you who live in the city may remember that the London Mayor Elections 2021 took place on the 6th May, and like many Londoners, Sistem contributor Dionne Boateng cast her vote and did not go for the seemingly obvious "black" choice. Here's why.

With 20 candidates to choose from I had to have a good long think about who I was going to vote for. For me, whether I was going to vote for Shaun Bailey or not, did not require much thinking, as it was a definite ‘computer says no’ answer in my mind. Despite being a Black Londoner like myself, I didn’t take to Shaun or his policies, as they speak did not speak to me nor did I find them or him genuine, along with not being convinced that his policies would have a positive impact on marginalised communities, specifically the Black community. I actually ended up voting for Sadiq Khan again, as I felt he was the more sincere and better candidate overall.

 I thought some of Bailey’s manifesto promises were unrealistic along with being hypocritical. 
For instance, the pledge to cut crime within “his first 100 days”, if he were to have won, is an unrealistic goal, considering Britain is over 10 years deep in austerity, which has seen cuts to police numbers. According to statistics, in 2019 teenage knife crime in London reached its highest level since 2008, so to be extremely kind, it’s very unlikely that this trend could be reversed in 100 days.  I find it beggar’s belief that it is only now that Bailey is concerned with reducing knife crime numbers, considering the fact he oversaw Tory cuts to police numbers and youth services, during his time as Youth and Crime Advisor. It’s seems that he did not press his party hard enough to do more about tackling knife crime, he could have used that time to really push this agenda, then maybe, just maybe there would have been some improvement on knife crime cases by now. At least it would’ve shown genuine concern from him, rather than the issue being used as a tactic in an election. Research carried out by YMCA confirms that youth services have been cut by 70% (£1 billion) since 2010.

Whilst visually Shaun Bailey seems like the representation we have been craving, he isn’t. Bailey has made negative comments about the Black community. For instance. making claims of marriage “not existing” in the black community, which is just untrue, clearly Bailey has never read The Voice newspaper’s relationships section. Rather than uplifting his community, he chooses to put us down, and this doesn’t sit well with me.   I also can’t help but feel, and suspect I am not alone in my suspicions, that Bailey is using the issues of the Black community for his own political gain, I have never heard him talk about any positive stories that have come out from the Black community.

In a 2005 pamphlet, Shaun commented that good looking girls “tend to have been around”, which is obviously a problematic stereotype and misogynistic comment. He was also heavily criticised for commenting that girls should “accept less of men’s rubbish” to avoid domestic violence, and rightly so, not only is this comment very ignorant, but also smacks of victim blaming and highlights a lack of sympathy for domestic violence victims, along with showing a lack of understanding of the complex nature of domestic violence.

In addition, Bailey has also made thoughtless comments about the homeless. As he has personally experienced homelessness himself in the past, it would be expected that he would have more insight into the challenges of this situation, along with being more empathetic. In an Inside Housing Magazine interview earlier this year, he claimed that the homeless could save £5,000 for a deposit towards a shared ownership home. Such a totally unrealistic view shows how out of touch Bailey is with the vulnerable in our society. It begs the question, on what planet is Bailey on, if he seriously believes that the homeless can have the means to save up to buy a home?

I for one, as a Black woman living in London, am glad that Bailey did not win this year’s Mayoral Election. Bailey’s divisive, prejudice and outdated views, particularly those he has towards women and marginalised minority groups, do not work in the interests of Londoners. It seems he makes such comments to gain personal and political clout. There are enough attention-seeking politicians as it is.

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