Labour has accused the Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, of the “worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny” after unearthing a newspaper interview in which he praised the discipline shown by his teachers because they “were men, then”. Bailey, who will take on the incumbent, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, in next year’s election, also used…
Labour has accused the Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, of the “worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny” after unearthing a newspaper interview in which he praised the discipline shown by his teachers because they “were men, then”.
Bailey, who will take on the incumbent, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, in next year’s election, also used the interview to argue that handing out contraception at schools encouraged teenage pregnancy and complain that young girls can have abortions without parental consent.
Speaking in favour of school discipline, Bailey gave the impression there were no women who educated him: “When I was a kid, there was none of that PC nonsense. If you were wrong, they told you so. The teachers were men, then.”
Elsewhere in the interview with the Sunday Times in 2007, Bailey repeated the point. “Our teachers were men, and we looked up to them. It was not a democracy. In today’s drive for children’s rights, we’ve forgotten to give them responsibility.”
Bailey was speaking shortly after he had been selected to become the Conservatives’ candidate for Hammersmith at the 2010 general election, a race he lost to Labour. Last autumn, the 47-year-old was selected as the party’s candidate to fight Khan for the London mayoralty.
The Conservative also complained about teenage pregnancy, saying that the state was not giving parents enough authority over children. “A classic example is, you’re meant to get your 14-year-old daughter to school, and if you don’t, you’re in trouble. And yet your 14-year-old daughter can have an abortion without you knowing. Who is in charge?” Bailey said.
He also complained about supplying contraceptives at schools. “We do not do enough to deter our teenagers from becoming parents. In fact, we positively encourage it. What kind of message does the fact that we hand out condoms to children as young as 13 send out?”
Seema Malhotra, a Labour MP, seized on the remarks to accuse Bailey of holding “backward views straight out of the 1950s – laced with the worst kind of casual sexism and misogyny”. She accused him of having “a long and hideous track record of misogyny and divisiveness”.
It is not the first time that Bailey’s past comments have caused controversy. Shortly after he was selected in October, it emerged that he had written a thinktank pamphlet that warned that accommodating Muslims and Hindus “robs Britain of its community” and risked turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”.
Bailey, who comes from a family of Jamaican immigrants, said 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.”
Bailey offered a qualified apology for those remarks shortly after they resurfaced last October, saying in an article in the Daily Telegraph: “Yes, I have complained – in the rather raw and ill-judged manner of a man figuring out his world – about the lack of integration in our communities and its impact on social cohesion.”
However, in a public meeting in Croydon a couple of weeks later, Bailey suggested his apologies were not absolutely sincere. “There are things I regret saying,” he said, adding: “But it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”
Malhotra said Bailey had been “completely two-faced with his previous apologies”.
A spokesman for Bailey declined to repudiate the remarks from the 2007 interview, and said Bailey believed that “both discipline and a strict belief in personal responsibility were critical in helping him to thrive while growing up in a tough community”. Bailey also supported abortion and a woman’s right to chose, said the spokesman, but added: “Young women should have strong support structures in place at home to help guide them.”
Responding to Malhotra, the spokesman said: “Rather than fight on the issues now facing London, and on Sadiq Khan’s extremely poor record in dealing with them, Labour are content to Google articles from 2007 and then feign outrage, none of which will stop the record number of knife murders or put Crossrail back on track.”