Leyton News

Labour’s Calvin Bailey launches election campaign in Leyton

The former RAF commander told local party members at a closed event on Friday that ’14 years of government incompetence’ had motivated him to stand for election, reports Marco Marcelline

Labour’s Leyton and Wanstead candidate Calvin Bailey

Labour candidate Calvin Bailey told local party members at his campaign launch on Friday (7th June) that he would give “as much” as he could to the people of Leyton and Wanstead if elected as their MP.

Calvin, who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for 24 years, told the assembled congregation of Waltham Forest councillors, Labour Party officials, and local party members that “14, 15 years of government incompetence” was the reason he had entered politics.

He said: “My father had a mantra that said, ‘it’s pointless sitting on the sidelines with morals’. If you’ve got morals… you’ve got to get stuck in and get your hands dirty and that’s why I’m standing.”

Alongside wishing the departing MP for Leyton and Wanstead John Cryer the “best” for his retirement, Calvin complimented the “multiplicity of communities” that exist in the constituency, adding he felt “connected” to the area because of its diversity.

Calvin added: “Whilst our first and principal aim is to oust the government…we must redouble our efforts to get out in the community and make people feel that they own a part of Calvin Bailey because will be that part of Calvin Bailey that will be representing them in the [Houses of Parliament].”

He ended his speech saying: “You will feel the squeeze as I wrap my arms around you. You are going to have as much as I can possibly give as your representative.”

Waltham Forest Council leader Grace Williams joined Calvin in praising the constituency, describing it as “so special”.

She then urged the assembled crowd to “imagine what it would be like to have a Labour government, council, MP, and mayor and assembly member.”

Grace said such an electoral outcome would be good news for the plan to rebuild Whipps Cross Hospital, adding: “For 15 years, the council has been campaigning for a new Whipps Cross Hospital. We have to get that hospital. I can tell you that Stella, Shama [Tatler, Labour’s candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green] Calvin, Jas [Athwal, Redbridge Council leader], and I will be fighting for it.”

Local party member Mohammed Rukhsar told the Echo that he was impressed by Calvin’s military background, especially as Mohammed’s father fought in the Second World War.

Complimenting his speech, he said: “Calvin seems like he wants to listen to everyone in the community. I will absolutely be voting for him.”

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Calvin with local councillors and City Hall assembly member Sem Moema

Calvin was selected by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to stand in Leyton and Wanstead on 29th May, two days after John Cryer announced his intention to step down at the election. 

The emergency nature of his selection meant that local party members were not consulted on his candidacy before he was picked, a move which has been described by some as an “imposition”. 

In an email sent last week to party members, seen by the Echo, Calvin described the way he was selected as “not ideal” and promised to “work to ensure [members] feel that the right result was achieved.”

Local member and Labour volunteer Carole Vincent, who regards herself as being on the left of the party, said Calvin’s selection came at a “difficult time” for Labour members who feel “divided” over the ways in which leadership has dealt with left-wing MPs, the Israel-Gaza war, and the cost-of-living crisis.

Despite sympathising with the view that Calvin’s emergency selection was an “insult” to active members who could not choose him, she said she was “willing” to give him a chance.

“I don’t judge a book by its cover. I want to see what he’s going to do [as MP]. He said he’s going to do lots of things with crime, for the youth. I’ll be watching what he does. He seems personable,” she said.

In a profile released last week, Calvin told The Guardian’s Aletha Adu that after moving to South London from Zambia as a young child he had developed a close friendship with the older brother of Stephen Lawrence, and was shaken and angered by his racist murder. 

The profile also reveals that the former RAF commander has also received an MBE for his work on supporting humanitarian efforts in Haiti and the Phillipines, and a US air force medal for resupplying a team that had been hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. 

He also told The Guardian that he owed his “political re-awakening” to his friend, the Ilford North MP Wes Streeting. 

The Echo has attempted to arrange an interview with Calvin since his selection was announced by Labour’s NEC on 29th May but Calvin’s team has not yet been able to firm a date. 

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