2024 SW London Assembly elections: Interview with Conservative candidate Cllr Ron Mushiso

Conservative Party’s candidate for the SW London Assembly seat Ron Mushiso

It’s going to be a challenge” for Conservatives to retain seat

The Mayoral elections take place on Thursday 2 May. Sadiq Khan is defending his record, and up for election also are the 25 London Assembly members whose job it is to hold the mayor to account. The Mayor’s office and the London Assembly together form the Greater London Authority, responsible for transport, policing, planning, culture, environment, health, fire and emergency services and economic planning in London.

In the run up to the 2024 London elections, The Chiswick Calendar is interviewing contenders for the South-West seat, which covers the three boroughs of Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston.

The Conservatives have chosen Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor Ron Mushiso as their candidate, who is hoping to appeal to voters because of his life experience.

Ron’s campaign materials for London Assembly election feature an enlarged version of his name, with Conservative Party branding conspicuously minimised. Ron admits retaining this seat, which has always been held with a comfortable majority by a Conservative, is going to be a tough battle – not least because the unpopularity of the Tories at the national level are making it much more difficult to campaign.

When we spoke, Ron signalled that if he is elected, he would be lobbying for an expansion of stop and search powers for the Metropolitan Police. He also said he wants to scrap the Ulez, which he says is “unfair”,but he also wants to use any funds raised from non-compliance charges towards re-opening Hammersmith Bridge.

Read my interview with Ron below.

The Chiswick Calendar’s interview with Ron Mushiso – Conservative Party

Could you give voters a bit of background about yourself?

“I moved to London when I was 12 from a small village in Uganda called Bududa. What’s interesting about that is that I didn’t see anyone of a different race to me, or cars or electricity or anything like that until after my 10th birthday basically.

“So it was a really big shift to go from a village where I had no shoes, no running water, we had no electricity to then be thrust into south-west London. Obviously learning a new language was difficult, making friends at school and all that kind of stuff.

“I was 12 when I got here, but it was a bit of a weird journey. I left my village at 10, but I went to Kenya, went back to Uganda as we were working out paperwork to bring me to London which took two years. The reason why I came to London was because I was witness to a murder, my grandfather and also my mum had died four months earlier. My grandad got hacked to death by machetes.

“My life was basically in danger, but luckily my dad was already living in London with his wife and his two kids, so they sent for me to give me a fresh start.

“I arrived in London in ’93, and by the end of ’94 I was placed in foster care. At the time of my arrival they were investigating my step mum [accused of ] abusing a house-girl that we had at the time, basically modern day slavery type thing, it was that sort of investigation. So when I arrived Social Services … got me out of there.”

That’s sounds like it was quite a rough childhood Ron, is your upbringing what inspired you to get involved in politics? 

“Yes, actually yes. What inspired to get me into politics was actually the fostering. When I was being fostered they used to try and get us to help in the community, like help out in your local youth club, things like that. By helping others you help yourself.

“I started doing that from the age of 15, helping out at social services youth clubs and stuff. But I also started coaching rugby because I was coaching rugby professionally from aged 17 until 21. When I was playing rugby we would also go to schools, primary schools, and teach them about healthy living and give them tickets to come to our matches.

“Both of those things combined got me interested in doing community work and helping out. So when I fully went away from rugby and went to university, I carried on doing a bit of coaching, giving back. I helped doing a bit of coaching on the council estate I was living Brentford, I was into that helping phase.”

And what drew you to the Conservative party?

“It’s the fact that I found a party that was looking to promote personal responsibility, I felt that I had the safety net of having the welfare state help me through social services and I’m thankful for that – which by the way happened under a Conservative government.

“I was not thankful of seeing experiences of fellow looked-after children, who were not taking responsibility for their actions who were very dependent on the state. I thought the best way to help somebody, like the best way to help the village in Uganda, is not to send them loads of money is to actually equip them with the ability to do things for themselves, and I think that’s more long-lasting.

“I learned that through, I have a half-sister in Uganda. I paid for her upbringing paid for and her schooling, she was younger than me and an orphan because our mum had died. It actually didn’t work out for her as well because she was so dependent on my support, it was only when I took a step back that she took responsibility and now she’s flourishing. She’s 36-years-old, still living in Uganda but doing really well.

“The reason I’m Conservative is because of that, so people can [take] responsibility into their own hands. Yes, be helped I agree with that 100%, but that help should be geared towards self-sufficiency.”

So what can you tell me about your candidacy for the SW London assembly seat?

“Certainly I think I have to pay homage to the people who have gone before me, Tony Arbour and Nick Rogers. They are exemplary public servants and I’m standing on the shoulders of them.

“My candidacy is about giving a unique voice at City Hall who can say they have a story like mine and there’s no-one at City Hall who can articulate the struggles they’ve been through and how they can translate that into ways they can help some of the most vulnerable people through the other side.

“My campaign really is that that I am a unique voice on this, I have experience as a teacher, not many GLA members are teachers. I have experience helping others and bringing people up, I think I can take that background, of coaching, and bringing people who are not well-performing wise in sports to make them better. I would like to be a role model to especially young men who are struggling with law and order and so on.”

The seat has always been held by a Conservative, do you expect to retain the seat?

“No, I think it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a challenge. I think it would be, what’s the word, very boisterous of me to think that this is a dead set. It’s going to be a very big challenge, we have some excellent candidates. I can’t name them unfortunately, but I know Labour has a fantastic lady candidate. We’ve got the Leader of the Council in Richmond. It’s going to be a tough one.

“I think all I can do is stay positive, keep doing what I’ve been doing because that’s who I am and let the best person win.”

What are people saying on the doorstep to you? Has the Government made it easier or harder for you to be campaigning?

“As a serving government it’s always going to be tough on the doorstep, to defend, to attack. I think we are being attacked by our opponents because it’s so easy to do. But when you actually speak to people on the door step and you explain, you are not the government. You are the GLA candidate and explain what the London Assembly does, once people get that message it’s actually quite easy to have those conversations.

“I think the hard bit is when people can’t help but read the national news, and think a Conservative stands at the door they think “Well, that’s the Government”. They’re really very different things. So what I’ve been saying is you’re voting for the guy who’s going to be your voice. You’re not voting for the government.”

Did you see that video that was released the other day by CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquaters), it was a video about Sadiq Khan’s London. They used the phrase that Sadiq Khan had “seized power”, London has been taken over by crime and that there were ULEZ patrols keeping people indoors. A couple of Conservative MPs have attacked that ad and disowned it, do you endorse what was said on it?

“I haven’t seen it, but they’re saying that he seized power?”

Effectively yes, the last two times Sadiq Khan was elected they’re saying he seized power.

“I haven’t seen it, but I don’t like that phrase very much. This is a democratic country. He won the election fair and square in 2018 and 2021. I hope we have a fair and square election again in 2024. But I haven’t seen the video so I can’t really comment.”

What do you think you can achieve as an Assembly Member, as at it’s heart its a scrutiny role?

“Shedding light on issues. I think I will be in a much better position to shed light on issues. The first one being Hammersmith Bridge, that needs to be reopened ASAP, and we need to be on top of that.

“I’ve just listened to a recent training session for what GLA elected person can and cannot do, and I think putting issues like that front and centre will be important.

“The second thing, which was actually going to be my first thing until I got this training course, was to say to many many residents that stop and search is a good policy. It does work, lets not hide around the bush. It does work, and actually when you look at some of the data of young black men who have been stabbed and killed by other young black men, stop and search actually saves lives.

“I think its a bit prejudiced of us to say that stop and search is targeting young black men, it isn’t, it’s actually helping to save lives of young black men. I can be the one to actually say that because I am that young black guy who could have easily been a victim or a perpetrator. 58% of people in young offenders institute had a looked-after background – I could have been one of those people.

“I think stop and search needs to be front and centre for London. We have to get it in a much better place than it is right now.”

Anything to say about Ulez?

“Yes, I think Ulez is unfair. The mayor has done it without a mandate. He’s rushed it without a mandate and he’s done it deliberately because he knew it wouldn’t be an election winner.

“It’s unfair because it penalises people who want to use their cars, now they have to pay £12.50 per day. We were going in a direction anyway of people buying cars that are less pollutant and hybrid and so-on. He’s just whacked this on even though his data says it wasn’t necessary.

“I would like to use that money to fix Hammersmith Bridge, the money he has raised. But I would scrap that straight away because we are going in a direction of cleaner cars.

“Cars are important, they’re the lifeblood of London. I love cycling but I still need my car.

Why are you a better choice than any of the other candidates and do you have anything to say about the other contenders?

“I wish them well because I hate negativity, I wish them well because they seem too me like good candidates.

“Why am I different? I’m different because I’m in touch with the youth of our area, who are the future of south-west London. I get good and honest feedback every day from young people who tell me what they like and not like.

“I am different in that I’m a teacher, I’m from a fostering background, I’ve lived with six different families in south-west London and one of those candidates can say that they’ve lived with six different families in one patch of south-west London. None of them can say they also have two dads, my foster dad and my biological dad – both still alive.

“The guy with two dads, six different foster homes, seven including my original family. So I have loads of experience of living in south-west London.”