Shaun Bailey: My campaign bus gets immediately stuck in traffic — why do people think the joke’s on me?

Shaun Bailey
·3-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

When the Standard asked me to write about my week, I realised that the concept is now meaningless to me. Anyone who has had the privilege to stand for election knows that campaigns bend space-time beyond anything astronauts have experienced. So weeks become as long as months — or, in my case, weeks become four years. If I’m lucky enough to be elected Mayor of London on 6 May, my campaign will have lasted longer than my first term as mayor. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve loved every moment of it. But I wouldn’t have felt deprived if there had been slightly fewer moments to love.

I launched my manifesto this week, with the words of one of my staff ringing in my ears. According to him, manifestos are a bit like plumbing: when they go well, they go unnoticed; but when they go wrong all hell breaks loose. I’m relieved to say that my manifesto appears to have gone down smoothly. Manifestos will never be required reading for every voter, but I believe that the key pledges — 8,000 more police, 100,000 homes that will be sold for £100,000 each, reversing the Congestion Charge hike — are exactly what Londoners want from their mayor. Teams and candidates pour an incredible amount of effort into manifestos. The process reminded me that I’m lucky to be surrounded by the most talented team in British politics.

Speaking of smooth launches, yesterday I unveiled my campaign bus. It was a nice moment, made even nicer by the schoolchildren who happened to walk by. We had an interesting chat, among other things discussing their futures and their worries about this city. They were more clued up than some adults I’ve met, and it reminds me that, one day, the future will be in good hands. Back in the present, the bus launch managed to generate quite a bit of interest. One jokester on Twitter reported that after we started to drive off in the bus we quickly got stuck in traffic. This is true, but why do they think the joke’s on me? Surely the joke’s on the person who spent the last five years in charge of London’s traffic.

Yesterday I closed my working day by taking part in a televised debate with three other candidates for mayor. Debates are always fun, although I feel like they’re most fun in retrospect. Still, it’s another great opportunity to reach Londoners. And I never take that for granted.

After a busy week, I intend to relax this weekend, maybe catching up on some television series I’ve been missing. As if! No, I’ll spend this weekend campaigning. I do of course miss the opportunity to take more time with my family, but I never want to waste a moment that could be spent getting my message out. Because I’m not the only person missing opportunities. To paraphrase the Prime Minister, talent exists everywhere in London but opportunity does not. Whether it’s crime or a lack of support from City Hall, too many Londoners don’t have access to the same opportunities I had, the opportunities that got me out of homelessness and into work. That’s why I’m standing for mayor. Together, I know we can give the city we love the fresh start it needs.

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