How old is Shaun Bailey? The answer is surprising – and important

The Conservative London mayoral hopeful is trying to pass off comments made in his mid to late thirties as youthful indiscretions.

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How old do you think Shaun Bailey is? The answer will probably shock you.

Some clues: Bailey is the same age as George Osborne. He is older than the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, and was born to a world in which Richard Nixon was still President of the United States and Star Wars was six years away from its world premiere. He was born not just when Michael Jackson was black, but when he was still in the Jackson Five.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Shaun Bailey is 47 years old.

I bring this up not to make everyone else share my sense of awe at Bailey’s skincare regime and my own sense of horror that I am on course to look older than Bailey by the time the mayoral election rolls around in 2020, but because I think Bailey is trading off his youthful appearance in explaining away his various indiscretions. The latest, unearthed by BuzzFeed’s Alex Wickham, is his comment that “good-looking” girls “tend to have been around”, and that “poor people” require “rules” and “direction” or they will turn to crime.

The response by Bailey and his spokespeople have been a combination of odd non sequiturs (responding to comments about Muslim and Hindu people by referencing his treatment by Labour’s Emma Dent Coad) and references to his apparent youth at the time. He today told the Evening Standard that his comments that people taking holidays for Eid and Diwali would turn Britain into a “crime-ridden cesspool” and his negative comments about single mothers were made in the “rather raw and ill-judged manner of a young man still figuring out his world”.

The thing is that he was 34 when he wrote his cesspool remarks and 38 when he said that it was a problem people were being taught it was “acceptable” to be a single mother. Now, of course, people can repent of past statements at any age. But pleading youth at 34 and 38 is a bit of a stretch, and suggests that the apology isn’t wholly sincere.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.