The widely expected selection of Shaun Bailey as the Conservatives’ 2020 mayoral candidate risks being a missed opportunity.
With defeat for the party almost certain, it’s easy to see why no ‘big names’ wanted to put themselves forward but Bailey, one of two London Assembly members standing for the candidacy, has also been the least impressive so far.
Unlike Andrew Boff, his leading rival for the role, he regularly fails to shine at Mayor’s Question Time where his interventions against Sadiq Khan are often ill-thought out, poorly-researched and badly delivered.
And, crucially, while they generate a lot of noise, they mostly fail to elicit any useful information or disprove the Mayor’s answers.
Much of his selection campaign has matched his City Hall performance, with a pledge to protect the Freedom Pass which could only be under threat if Theresa May brought forward legislation to axe it, and contradictory promises to scrap the incoming Ultra Low Emission Zone’s expansion – a much-needed source of income for Transport for London – while also boosting investment in the transport network.
While selecting early allows a relatively low-profile candidate to build-up their brand recognition, Bailey’s also going to have to spend some of the next 18 months improving his performance and assembling, and listening to, a team which is far better at detail and policy than he is.