Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey today said he had more in common with a “white kid from Dagenham” than a black child from Hampstead as he says the race debate is overshadowing Britain’s class divide.
Mr Bailey, 49, a former youth worker, said class was just as important as race as he sought to boost his profile ahead of the mayoral election in May 2021.
“I’ve probably got more in common with white working-class people than I do with black people from wealthy backgrounds,” he said in a speech at the Centre for Social Justice.
He added: “In many ways, my early life is more relatable to the white kid in Dagenham than it is to the black kid in Hampstead.”
He said talking solely about race means problems about class are ignored, adding: “To improve the lives of everyone in our country, we need to understand what it’s like for working-class people.”
Mr Bailey, who grew up in Ladbroke Grove, said Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King “built a coalition of people from every background, of every colour” and added: “That’s what we need to do now. That’s what I would do as Mayor.”
Mr Bailey also made a personal attack on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, accusing him of “forgetting his roots” and “betraying communities”.
He was introduced by the Home Secretary Priti Patel and comes after Mr Bailey was the target of internal briefing last month.
Rumours, that were later dismissed, suggested Mr Bailey had lost the support of senior party officials and donors, with some seeking to replace him with ex-chancellor Sajid Javid.
A spokeswoman for Sadiq Khan said: “Shaun Bailey simply has the wrong values for London and once again put his political party ahead our city today by standing next to the Home Secretary and refusing to urge her to properly fund London’s police.”