The Tories are still recovering from the bruising of their defeat at the last round of elections for Mayor of London and the London Assembly in 2016. Sadiq Khan’s victory, coupled with allegations of a negative campaign from Zac Goldsmith, has left a bitter taste. That aside, critics of Khan have said he’s achieved little to date, but supporters say he’s brought the capital together at moments of crisis, not least horrific terrorist attacks.
Three aspirant Conservatives have been short-listed for the battle for City Hall in 2020. One of the three will be announced as the candidate at the Party’s conference in October, following a ballot of all Conservative members in Greater London.
- Shaun Bailey AM, a plucky and energetic London Assembly Member who has an interesting (and consistent) critical narrative on contemporary liberalism. Bailey has stood twice before for parliament and broke through into elected politics on the London Assembly in 2016 and now sits as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on the GLA. He has strong credentials in youth work and was a former adviser to David Cameron early on in the Coalition Government. Bailey is considered the front-runner.
- Andrew Boff AM, is a seasoned London political operator. His pedigree includes ten years on the London Assembly and a two-year spell as Leader of the London Borough of Hillingdon in the early 1990s. Boff is an openly gay libertarian Tory who has stood for parliament and gone for the mayoral nomination many times before. He’s also had a few goes at becoming the Directly-Elected Mayor of Hackney. He likes a good fight and isn’t too fussed about what the commentariat thinks about him.
- Councillor Joy Morrissey, is a surprise entrant on the shortlist. She was elected as a councillor in Ealing in 2014. who has lived in her patch for eight years. Morrissey has a background in humanitarian work and can boast Albanian and Chinese as additional languages. Morrissey has worked in the House of Commons as an aide and currently works for the Centre for Social Justice. She has stood for parliament before in Ealing and Acton. This a bold step and she’s clearly tenacious. Keep an eye open on Councillor Morrissey for Parliament.
But, aside from the three who got on to the much-coveted shortlist, another seven applied to become the next Tory candidate destined to make City Hall blue again. Who lost out on the long list? And what can we learn from the crop of hopefuls who put their name forward, for the state of Tory politics in London?
- Andrew Rosindell MP, the avowedly right-wing Eurosceptic maverick Tory Member for Romford. Always an outside chance; Rosindell’s constituency isn’t quite in line with the broader more multicultural and demographic aspect to an ever-changing London. A likeable and popular figure on the Parliamentary scene, with an unrelenting passion for the Commonwealth, it would seem that’s where he should keep his focus.
- Councillor Kevin Davis, as of May this year, he is the former Leader of the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. Davis is currently the Leader of the Opposition on the Council, having seen the surge of the Liberal Democrats in South West London, snatching Richmond and Kingston. Davis has stood for parliament before and as a local Kingston lad, he’s not going anywhere soon in that patch.
- Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE, a huge role model in British business who smashed the ‘glass ceiling’ by becoming the only female Asian Chief Executive of a FTSE 250 at the time, manning the helm at the outsourcing group Mitie. An accountant by training, and a keen proponent of successful women in business, Ruby McGregor-Smith was unfortunately ‘late to the party’ for the nomination. Perhaps with more longstanding Tory credentials she might have made the final cut.
- Alison Cork¸ a seasoned entrepreneur and broadcaster, and a Conservative champion of women in business. Cork is one to watch going-forward if her political interests are retained, because her keen eye for opportunities and a very business-focused approach bodes well for the Commons. Or the Lords, if the PM needs a fresh crop to aid Brexit’s bumpy passage through the Upper House.
- Duwayne Brooks OBE, is a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Lambeth and was with Stephen Lawrence at his tragic murder in 1993. Since the event, Brooks has been very involved in initiatives in London such as the PREVENT campaign, and community cohesion causes. Having only joined the Tories in May this year, Brooks was seen as a late comer. Which didn’t help. Brooks will likely have a punt at a future parliamentary seat.
- Kulveer Ranger, well-known for being Boris Johnson’s Director of Transport early on in his first mayoral term, is a notable figure on the Conservative London political scene and can be seen occasionally on the commentator circuit for the BBC. Ranger is a prominent Sikh Conservative and is one to watch for a parliamentary seat in the future, expanding the Tories’ credentials with an arguably under-represented community.
- Baroness Finn, always was an outsider for the nomination. Simone Finn is known to be a shrewd operator and her accountancy credentials and career background with the Financial Conduct Authority bode well in terms of her potential for other posts in the future. Lady Finn’s evidenced commitment to social mobility and her passion for diversity fits in well with a modernising Conservative Party agenda; we’ll be seeing more of Finn in the future.