Greg Hands is the MP for Chelsea and Fulham and a former Minister for London.
As most readers will no doubt be aware, Mayor Sadiq Khan is failing London. Whether it is his consistent talking down of the Capital’s future prospects in an increasingly global world, or his inability to manage City Hall effectively, Mr Khan’s mayoralty has been marked by pessimism and failure.
For me, Shaun Bailey is the perfect antidote to Khan’s failed leadership. I have been a London MP since 2005 and have known Shaun since 2007, and have worked with him closely. As a member of the London Assembly, Shaun understands in great detail how Sadiq Khan is failing as mayor and scrutinises his poor decision-making on a daily basis. Also, as a youth worker for over 20 years, Shaun has the knowledge and experience to deal with troubled young people and tackle the rising gang violence that concerns so many.
We need someone like Shaun to lead the charge in 2020, because I have no doubt in my mind that London is one of the greatest cities on Earth. The capital deserves a mayor who both wants to embrace the city’s future prospects and is able to show the leadership Londoners sorely need.
Khan’s persistent doom and gloom on the economy is disheartening. The UK job market under a Conservative Government is very healthy and the unemployment rate currently stands at 4 per cent – the lowest level for over 40 years. London is part of this national Conservative success story, itself having increased the total number of jobs to 5.9 million, also the highest on record.
Unfortunately, Khan fails to see the continuing success of the London economy and regularly talks down our future economic prospects. Londoners deserve better than this: they need a true champion and salesperson, both at home and abroad.
But not only is Khan failing to adequately bang the drum for London, which I saw at first hand as Trade and Investment Minister. He is also failing with his core mayoral responsibilities in transport, housing and crime.
Let’s take transport, for example. Khan promised to “freeze all fares” if he became mayor. Even though he has frozen pay-as-you-go fares, Travelcards have increased in price and most commuters are now paying more for their daily journey. This broken promise has not only let Londoners down, it has resulted in TfL developing almost a £1 billion operating deficit from the loss in pay-as-you-go fare revenues. Khan’s antics have frankly left London’s transport finances in a perilous state.
Putting a roof over Londoners’ heads is another area in which Khan is failing. The Conservative Government, recognising the need for more housing in London, gave Khan a record £4.82 billion to build 116,000 new affordable homes. So far he has started 12,555 in his first year and is planning to start another 14,000 this year. This puts him significantly behind schedule and means that he will have to start at least 23,000 affordable homes each year just to catch up – something that has never been achieved before.
As a result of Labour incompetence in the Capital, sources revealed last week that the Government are considering by-passing the Mayor all together on housing, to do deals directly with London’s boroughs. Something that may well need to be done, but wouldn’t be necessary if Shaun were Mayor.
But perhaps the greatest concern to Londoners is the rise in violence. Knife crime has risen by 50 per cent since Khan became mayor and London has witnessed over 100 murders so far in 2018. In March this year, the murder rate in the Capital was worse than New York’s for the first time ever.
Khan has over the past two years shown a lack of leadership when it comes to stopping the rising violence. He instead blames the Government for this rise and takes no responsibility for the increase in crime on his watch. This does nothing to reassure concerned Londoners.
In the face of these mounting failures, it is clear that London needs new leadership and that we as a party need a fresh voice in London Conservative politics. For me, Shaun Bailey is that person.
Not only does Shaun have the right experience and background, he has the ideas to take London forward and turn London blue again in 2020. One great example is his plan to put one thousand extra police officers on the streets by cutting waste in City Hall and by embracing new emerging technologies. This is the sort of thinking that will help the police to do their jobs and keep Londoners safe.
Along with Cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove and Liz Truss, Shaun has five London MPs backing him to be our Conservative Mayoral candidate. These London MPs include Nick Hurd, Zac Goldsmith, David Evennett and Chris Philp.
Shaun has my vote and I hope he has yours as well. Pledge your support for Shaun by clicking here.