Tory deputy chairman defends Shaun Bailey over multiculturalism remarks

James Cleverly says London mayoral candidate ‘could have been clearer’ in expressing his views

The Conservatives’ deputy chairman has conceded that the party’s newly selected London mayoral candidate “could and should” have made clear he was not singling out Muslims or Hindus when he wrote about the impact of multiculturalism.

James Cleverly insisted Shaun Bailey had been misunderstood, and that he was trying to say that because black boys were learning more about faiths other than “their own Christian culture”, they were more likely to drift into crime.

Cleverly conceded that “what Shaun did wrong was that he could and should have been better at explaining that he wasn’t blaming anyone” when writing about accommodating British Muslims and Hindus in a paper published 13 years ago.

But Cleverly said Bailey would not be reprimanded and that he had the party’s full support to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan in two years time. “It was ridiculous to suggest he was selected on anything other than quality,” he said.

The senior Tory was defending Bailey a day after it emerged that the party’s mayoral candidate had made remarks about Muslim and Hindu Londoners in a 2005 pamphlet entitled No Man’s Land.

“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 [sic] days off. What it does is rob Britain of its community. Without our community, we slip into a crime-riddled cesspool,” Bailey wrote at the time.

Cleverly said that Bailey’s comments were “just an observation that when you have people who don’t have a sense of community they are more likely to drift into crime”, and said it was wrong to link that idea to Britons from the two faiths.

“He was dealing predominantly with black boys of Christian heritage in west London, and when they weren’t themselves feeling part of a community,” the Conservative MP told the BBC’s World at One.

“When they were learning about things they personally had no ethnic or religious connection to but not about their own ethnicity or region or society they were left without a community and it was that lack of community that was a driver [to crime].”

Bailey’s writing at the time, in a section in the Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet titled “multiculturalism”, made clear that he believed that immigrants integrated into British society better if they were Christians.

“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,” Bailey wrote.

A few paragraphs later, Bailey argued it was easier for the black community to integrate into British society because they had 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 wrote.

Labour MPs seized on Bailey’s remarks when they reemerged on Wednesday, with the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, accusing the Tories of trying to divide communities.

Do the Tories not have any other strategy apart from trying to divide our communities and attack multiculturalism?

It didn't work against @SadiqKhan in 2016 and won't work in 2020.

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 3, 2018


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

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