Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has spoken of what he said was his “advanced” friendship with London’s Jewish community as he entered the final stages of his campaign to replace Labour’s Sadiq Khan in City Hall next month.
Speaking to Jewish News as he toured the streets of Hendon, where he was met with an enthusiastic response from many onlookers, Bailey recalled how he first begun to build a rapport with the community a decade ago, having once worked as a youth adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron.
“My relationship started 10 years ago – but now it’s more advanced,” he said. “It’s true I have been warmly welcomed by the Jewish community, as you can see here today.
“With friendships, if you last five years – then I would say you could call yourself great mates. If it goes on to be 25 years, then it’s more like ultra-mates.”
The Conservative London Assembly member is also keen to talk up his friendship with Boris Johnson when he is asked how often they speak.
“He has been full of advice the whole way through,” says Bailey of the Prime Minister. “When people came after me in the press he said ‘Shaun they tried this on me in 2006. Bugger them.’
“He will come out on the campaign trail – we went out fairly early on, but he will come out again.
“Most of the time he speaks to me about crime. He can’t understand how it got this bad. He left City Hall in a good place when he was mayor.”
As we wander along Brent Street, where Bailey repeatedly tells store owners of his plan to reverse any congestion charge hike and revert to earlier timings that would benefit businesses.
He also repeatedly stresses to those who listen that unlike Khan he is a “man of action” and not just a man of “sweet words.”
Bailey suggests that it is his relationship with Home Secretary Priti Patel that will help him carry out his pledge to eventually ban the annual Al Quds Day march in central London, that has seen flags of the terror group Hezbollah raised in the capital along with inflammatory calls for violence.
Mention to Bailey that the Mayor does not have the power to ban political marches such as Al Quds and he responds: “Ofcourse, I have a better relationship with the Home Secretary than he (Khan) does. ..
“It’s a hate crime and it happens every year.”
In another nod towards the community, Bailey has also vowed to take a stand against Israel Apartheid Week – the annual event which has led to yearly complaints about intimidation of Jewish students at universities across the country.
“First and foremost, you need to take it on,” he says of his plan to intervene. “I’m pledging that any organisation that the GLA has any dealings with that involves Israel Apartheid Week – they will have a funding withdrawal or that they won’t get the contract at all.
“You have to put your money where your mouth is.”
He has also vowed to take a trade delegation to Israel within his first term, if he is elected as major.
I’m pledging that any organisation that the GLA has any dealings with that involves Israel Apartheid Week – they will have a funding withdrawal or that they won’t get the contract at all
Earlier that day, Bailey makes a visit to GIFT, the Jewish Foodbank and Charity Services outlet situated on the busy Hendon Way.
He dons a green GIFT t-shirt and looks entirely comfortable choosing fruit and vegetable collections to hand out to those in need of support. Bailey is joined by local Conservative MP Matthew Offord who speaks of his “pride” at the operation.
Back on the local street and Bailey is asked to pose for a photograph with another supporter – who attempts to link the current mayor with former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Bailey nods as the man hits out at those in the community who he says are “sucking up to Khan, and who have decided that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
The man claims Khan is often rude about Bailey when the pair take part in debates. “He always is,” says Bailey. “He has made it all about me.”
The latest opinion polls have suggested the Tory hopeful still has a lot to do to beat Khan on May 6. But he is still upbeat.
“I think we are continuing to build momentum the closer it gets to election day. People are really start to take notice of what I am offering Londoners now.”
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