Tory Shaun Bailey, a sometime adviser to Boris Johnson, has again damaged his campaign to become Mayor of London by claiming people “would buy lots of drugs” if they were given a universal basic income.
It is the latest gaffe in a disastrous campaign run by Bailey, a Conservative member of the London Assembly.
Bailey made his comments during a debate about piloting the system in the capital. He said he had concerns about how “the human condition” was being overlooked.
Bailey’s critics called his claims “extraordinary” and “shocking”, but today his campaign organisers were unapologetic for the remarks.
“Shaun Bailey has over 20 years of experience as a youth worker,” a campaign spokesperson told BBC London. “He’s been homeless and he’s been out of work. So Shaun won’t take any lectures from career politicians on what life is like for those struggling to get on.”
The London Mayor elections are on May 6, with Bailey trailing in the polls by 21 per cent behind Labour’s Sadiq Khan.
Bailey’s campaign has been so embarrassingly poor that there is even a possibility that, under the proportional representation voting system, Khan could be returned for a second term as Mayor on first-preference votes alone, if he manages to win 50 per cent or more of the vote. The most recent polls had Khan on 49 per cent.
Universal Basic Income is a programme under which a periodic payment delivered to all citizens of a given population without a means test or work requirement.
In yesterday’s debate, Bailey told the Greater London Authority’s economy committee at City Hall: “I know some people who would absolutely fly if you gave them a lump sum every week. I know some people that would buy lots of drugs.
“So where is the care for the person? How do you get past just universally giving people money?”
Simon Duffy, a director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, said Bailey’s comment was “an extraordinary claim” and “quite shocking”.
Duffy said, “There is a myth that ordinary people don’t know how to spend money. It’s not just false, it’s clearly unproven.”
The committee voted in favour of trialling a UBI in London, although it will be up to individual boroughs to host the scheme.
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