Tory London mayoral pick under fire for remarks about Muslims and Hindus

Multiculturalism could make UK a ‘crime-riddled cesspool’, Shaun Bailey said in 2005

Accommodating Muslims and Hindus “robs Britain of its community” and risks turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool” as a result, the Conservative candidate for London mayor declared in a thinktank pamphlet he wrote a decade ago.

Shaun Bailey voiced concerns about the marking of Muslim and Hindu festivals, claimed children were being taught more about Diwali than Christmas, and argued Britain “removing the religion that British people generally take to” had allowed immigrants to bring their countries’ cultural problems with them.

In his “no man’s land” pamphlet (pdf) for the Centre for Policy Studies about the problems faced by young people in inner-city areas, Bailey also appeared to confuse Hindi speakers with the Hindu religion.

“You bring your children to school and they learn far more about Diwali than Christmas. I speak to the people who are from Brent and they’ve been having Muslim and Hindi days off. What it does is rob Britain of its community. Without our community, we slip into a crime-riddled cesspool,” he wrote in 2005.

“There are a lot of really good things about Britain as a place and British people as a body. But by removing the religion that British people generally take to, by removing the ethics that generally go with it, we’ve allowed people to come to Britain and bring their culture, their country and any problems they might have, with them.”

A few paragraphs later, Bailey argued it was easier for the black community to integrate into British society because there were shared Christian values. “Within the black community, it is not such a bad thing, because we’ve shared a religion and in many cases a language. It’s far easier for black people to integrate,” he said.

A section of Bailey’s pamphlet headed “multiculturalism” set out his arguments about religion in the UK, and suggested that without the sense of community that comes from shared Christian celebrations, Britain had produced a nation of people who would not fight for the country.

Despite the revelations, Theresa May endorsed Bailey in her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference. A few hours after the Guardian article about his pamphlet was first published, May, arguing her party represented equality of opportunity, cited the example of Bailey. She said a man whose “grandparents came to our shores as part of the Windrush generation … could be the next mayor of London”.

Bailey was selected as the Tory candidate for London mayor at the end of last week, comfortably winning a three-way contest after two rounds of voting. He was a youth worker who became an adviser to David Cameron on young people and crime before being elected to the London assembly, having previously failed to win a seat at Westminster.

Labour seized on Bailey’s remarks. Andy Slaughter, a London Labour MP who defeated him in the 2010 general election, said: “It is increasingly clear that he holds views that are at best divisive and at worst Islamophobic. London went through this once before with Zac Goldsmith’s hideous campaign for mayor and, quite frankly, we deserve much better than this from the Conservative party.”

Goldsmith’s losing campaign against Sadiq Khan in 2016 was first criticised for attempting to divide voters when leaflets targeting Hindu voters emerged, in which it was suggested Khan would tax their jewellery if he became London mayor. The next mayoral election is due in spring 2020.

A spokesperson for Bailey said: “As a descendant of the Windrush generation, and someone who has worked with diverse communities for over 20 years, Shaun knows full well the challenges faced by BAME communities.

“Shaun has made it his life’s work to help those from migrant and disadvantaged communities, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

“As someone who has received racist abuse from the Labour party, who, let’s not forget, branded the community worker a ‘token ghetto boy’, this is a little rich.”

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “For a mayoral candidate to have used such grotesque language about Muslims and Hindus is totally unacceptable. Bailey needs to apologise and distance himself from this divisive bigotry.”

The organisation said it would write to the Tories to see if they were aware of Bailey’s remarks prior to his selection.


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

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