Mohamed Y Ali is the Chairman of the Somali Conservatives.
As most readers are no doubt aware, the point at which we select our mayoral candidate to fight Sadiq Khan is fast approaching. It is clear from Khan’s poor record on crime and housing that our chosen candidate will have plenty of ammunition to use in the race.
But our pitch for 2020 can’t simply be about negative campaigning. To win in 2020, we have to have a positive message to take to Londoners. Key to this is having a message, and a candidate to sell that message, that put forward a positive case for the Conservative Party in London.
Part of that case has to be about what makes the Conservative Party great. Our emphasis on opportunity for all. Our commitment to hard-working families. Our understanding of the need to manage finances well. But the unique context of London means that our candidate will not only need to understand this, but also be able to sell the Conservative Party to new audiences beyond our heartlands.
The difficulties we often face in London are largely down to the fact that we do not do so well with BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) voters and younger people under the age of 40. The results of the 2017 General Election and the more recent local elections demonstrate this.
By the 2020 mayoral election, almost 45 per cent of the electorate will be BAME. If the Party continues to poll so badly among BAME communities, it is almost statistically impossible for a Conservative candidate to win enough votes to get over the line.
London is also one the youngest parts of the country, with an average age of 36. Younger people in places like from where I’m from, in Ealing, are not core Conservative voters. Our 2017 election performance shows that this is a group we need to be better at attracting.
So reaching out to BAME communities and young people is clearly something any candidate will need to be able to do. For our party, the next London Mayoral election will provide the next big opportunity for us in London to address these audiences. So, we must select our candidate wisely. Our success or failure in the next London Mayoral election could well decide the fate of the London Party in the longer term.
On who such a candidate could be, a lot of names will be put forward in the coming days and weeks. But who should we pick? For me, the choice is simple, Shaun Bailey gets my nomination for the Party’s candidate for London Mayor.
Given all the problems London is currently experiencing due to Sadiq Khan’s abysmal leadership, we need a candidate who first and foremost will address anti-social behaviour, create opportunities for our young people and tackle violent crime. We need a candidate who can speak to the young, who understands the causes behind the rise in violent crime, and who can win the trust of the city’s BAME voters for our party.
Shaun has been a youth worker for many years, and has been involved in community work to help disadvantaged communities for a long time now. This is why David Cameron hired him as a special adviser on youth and crime when he was Prime Minister. Shaun is also a London Assembly Member, so he understands all too well from personal experience how Sadiq Khan is failing London – and how to fix things.
Shaun grew up near Grenfell Tower in a family descended from the Windrush Generation. In many ways, Shaun personifies the immigrant success story so many in London experience.
He is the candidate who ticks all my boxes. If we are to have someone to stand on a pro-conservative message of opportunity, and have a candidate who can reach out to those more harder-to-reach communities, I challenge anyone to find a more suited candidate.
Our nomination for London Mayor can be a truly inspiring moment for our party. It would be a bold statement to the rest of the country to award Shaun our party’s nomination for the next Mayoral election. It would also represent our best chance of beating Sadiq Khan, something all Conservatives should urgently want to do.