Nominations closed to be the 2020 Conservative candidate for Mayor of London at the beginning of the month, and the party has now announced its longlist of 10, which will be whittled down to a shortlist soon for party members to choose before the party conference. Who are they and what would they mean for development?
Three have well known positions. Shaun Bailey, who many see as the frontrunner, is a youth worker and former adviser to David Cameron. Much is made of his early life in social housing in north Kensington (including gibes by his nemesis Emma Dent Coad MP), Bailey has written calling for more and better social housing. As a London Assembly member since 2016, Bailey became chair of the regeneration committee in May and has argued against concentrating in zone 1 and for spreading regeneration outwards.
Andrew Boff is a veteran London politician who was briefly council leader of Hillingdon. He has the most detailed plans, which include a maximum six storey limit on housing, larger family-sized homes, and opposing ‘poor doors’. It is Boff’s fourth run for the nomination …
Kevin Davis ran a generally pro-development administration in Kingston council for four years. He has an outer Londoners’ sensitivity to the green belt and suburbs, but would see his role as providing infrastructure to support major development areas. The manifesto which he ran on for Kingston talked about preventing overseas investors from getting hold of new properties, protecting the green belt, and being against demolishing homes to make way for increases in density.
More difficult to tell are a range of business-allied candidates who have said little on the record. Simone Finn, an accountant, government efficiency adviser and peer, has strongly supported neighbourhood planning in the Lords. Her Lords colleague Ruby McGregor-Smith was CEO of outsourcing company Mitie, the first Asian woman to run a FTSE-250 company, and is now an adviser to construction company Mace – she has indicated housing and knife crime will be her priorities. Alison Cork, an interior decorating entrepreneur, writes that she would aim to “double housing” but what that means is unclear.
The four remaining on the shortlist have previous political records. Kulveer Ranger, who was a key part of Boris Johnson’s mayoral team, has a degree in architecture and previously worked in property development. Joy Morrissey, an actor and Ealing councillor, has allied with residents critical of redevelopment of Ealing town centre. Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, rarely mentions housing or development in his campaigning. Duwayne Brooks, who recently joined the Conservatives, made vague pledges to build affordable housing when he stood as an Independent for Mayor of Lewisham in May.
Local Labour Parties will be holding meetings in August and September deciding whether to reselect Sadiq Khan; he will be reselected automatically if more than half are happy with him. Despite early talk of a left challenge, Khan is now likely to sail through.
The election for Mayor will be in 2020. A lot can change in two years, but sources in the Conservative party suggest they are recruiting for a candidate that will show the party in a good light, but who is unlikely to win.