Hammersmith & Chiswick parliamentary candidate: Reform UK

Images: Reform UK’s parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith & Chiswick Louise Petano Heathcote, Reform UK logo

“Reform is the only party who are committed to making significant changes and significant reforms”

The 2024 General Election takes place on Thursday 4 July. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is defending the Conservative Party’s record in government after 14 years in power.

As polling day approaches, The Chiswick Calendar has interviewed the parliamentary candidates for the newly created Chiswick & Hammersmith constituency, which covers most of Chiswick.

There are eight candidates standing for election. The fifth on the ballot paper is Louise Heathcote, who is standing for Nigel Farage’s far-right party Reform UK.

Next to Labour, Reform UK have turned into one of the Conservative Party’s biggest headaches in this election. Some polls are putting Reform on 15% nationwide, numbers which could result in splitting the right-wing vote significantly in some constituencies while ushering in MPs in others.

Reform’s manifesto pledges include cutting migration to net zero, scrapping the goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions and cutting significant amounts of tax.

Reform’s candidate for Hammersmith & Chiswick, Louise Heathcote, has a background is in asset management and counts among her clients the Qatari regime, having worked directly with the Prime Minister of Qatar. Louse says both the Conservatives and Labour have oversaw a “significant decline” in the quality of life for people living in Hammersmith in Chiswick. She says Reform are the only party offering “significant reforms” to remedy this.

The Chiswick Calendar’s interview with Louise Heathcote – Reform UK

What are some of the important local issues you see facing voters in Hammersmith & Chiswick?

“I think the most important thing that I have noticed over the past probably 10 years, and also having spoken to constituents, is the deterioration of of the area in general. Crime is up, a lot of police stations are closed, anti-social behaviour. Children, parents and children are having problems walking to school, they can’t in some cases can’t walk to school without being accosted by people pushing drugs or that sort of thing.

“The other thing that came up with a family who’s been living there for many years in Shepherd’s Bush is, as women they are being judged, you know. They can’t walk out of their front door without being judged to what they’re wearing… In this day and age in western society that’s not acceptable.

“The hospital needs work desperately, we know the NHS is very broken, and needs it’s not just money I need money but it also needs, investment, er sorry, reorganising, getting rid of a lot of the bureaucracy. Those are the main things that are sort of specific to the area.”

Where here do you see some of these issues so coming from, such as crime?

“I think a lot of the police stations have closed, there aren’t enough police on the streets we need visible hobbies on the beat. That just hasn’t happened. As Reform, we are totally committed to putting more police on the streets and for it to be visible and so that communities feel safe and secure as they should. You shouldn’t have, you know, vulnerable people walking around feeling unsafe in the place they live in our Western society. ”

Let’s move on to some of the Reform’s manifesto pledges – one of the pledges has been to cut migration to net zero, many migrants risk their lives to reach the UK, they’re fleeing war, persecution and extreme poverty. How does Reform plan to address the humanitarian aspects of the illegal migration while ensuring the rights and dignity of the people are upheld?

“So already we’ve, as we all know, we’ve had a huge numbers of migrants we I think – I’m just looking at the analysis – I think… we’ve had 12,000 this year UK and there are are a fair few in Hammersmith & Chiswick, in the constituency. So we’ve got a large weight of new population, who all need supporting and all need medical care, all need all of the things that we as a society as a British society naturally do.

“I think the point has been made very clear that we must look after what we’ve got but we really, our infrastructure is not in any position to take in any more of that responsibility for the moment. Reform is quite clear, want to stop – especially illegal – migration, especially routes that are incredibly dangerous – why haven’t those boats been stopped? …We have mechanisms in place in this country for asylum seekers… and catching a dinghy, a very unsafe dinghy, across the channel is not one of those. It’s illegal.”

Well a lot of legal routes have been closed by the government so people that are catching dinghies across the channel feel that that’s the only way to enter the UK

“Er you have to… Yes. This is this is a huge issue. The bottom line is our infrastructure cannot, is not, in a fit condition to be able to take more. We have, we don’t have [in]finite services available. I’m sure there are millions of people all over the world who would love to move to the UK, but couldn’t possibly accept all of them. We just don’t have the space, we don’t have the housing, we’ve already got a social housing problems – huge social housing problems. People in the constituency there are families who work, working hard with children who cannot get housing.

“I believe firmly that we have to take care of what we have here already and to regroup and.. make sure our services are robust and then take a long hard look at how many and who we are able to take without costing everybody else who’s already here their home, their livelihood… the well-being of their children.”

There has been lack of funding and public services and lack of house building which is why we have a housing crisis and why the the public services are in the state they’re in at the moment. How would Reform and solve the help the housing crisis and fix the public services?

“First of all I would say that, just to highlight the point that we have had both the Conservative government and the constituency has had a Labour MP. So you could possibly argue that there is the best of both worlds there or the worst, whichever way you want to look at it. Andy Slaughter has been an MP for a long time, many years. The situation within the constituency has not improved its significantly declined, so between the two of them they’ve not managed to sort it out.

“As far as social housing is concerned, I firmly believe we need to think creatively around the problem. I have been involved in the past in official housing projects and one thing that has, that I personally find particularly interesting, is that after Covid both in the constituency and in other areas of London, we have hundreds of thousands of square foot of empty offices… A lot of the office space just isn’t needed, people aren’t working in the way they were, and companies have either sized down dramatically or looked into how their workforce is working in a different way. I was involved in a project where they converted, very successfully, buildings that were previously used for commercial probably into fantastic flats.

“Both Green Party, I think all the parties, are talking about building and building and building more, surely we ought to be from a purely ecological perspective, we ought to be thinking a little bit more creatively and using what we already have or repurposing what we already have. That’s my personal take on that.”

So on to public services and the NHS um reform of propose to substantial increases in NHS funding but you also suggest a greater use of the private sector how would you address concerns that this could lead to privatisation by stealth and my reduce accessibility to some people?

“Well again I’m going to use a personal example, because I’ve been following, tracking the NHS it’s clear that it hasn’t been working for many years especially after Covid. Things have tried to be re-jigged and as we all know it’s incredibly hard to get an appointment with your GP… My daughter actually had a very serious spinal operation and her doctor, I had a long chat with him during her recovery, it was a long recovery we were in hospital for a while, and we had many chats about what fundamentally was wrong with the NHS… It’s very easy to say ‘oh they need more funding, well actually, the Conservatives have put quite a lot of money into the NHS.

“One of the greatest problems is the bureaucracy and the amount that’s wasted within that bureaucracy. The doctor in question is one of the top surgeons for the particular issue my daughter had and… What he already does is, he does his private work, he works privately, but because of his capability in the speed in which he’s able to complete a successful operation, he goes up north where the waiting lists are… years, and he just goes and works as much as he can and gets through as many of the operations as he can for the NHS to try and ease that burden. Now, that is a perfect example of a doctor that doesn’t have to do it, and he’s getting on slightly in years, but he goes and does it because he can see how it’s desperately needed.

“With the right mechanisms in place, combining both the public and the private sector, using both mechanisms, will hugely ease the burden on the NHS. But it needs massive reform and he said it’s not just about money, it’s about many different things.

“It’s also about our nurses and our doctors and the costs what they’re paid. We’ve already had a lot of talk about, we’ve had lots of strikes the first strikes we’ve ever had of nurses striking. So there are many many things that need changing and as you will see on the Reform manifesto, we are absolutely committed to uh reducing debt and enabling our home-grown doctors and nurses to study and giving them tax breaks so that they are able to practice the medicine they need and encourage more of them to enter the profession.”

I think that’s a key word that you just mentioned then our “home-grown” nurses and doctors, given the reliance on overseas workers in the social care sector and the NHS how do you plan to maintain adequate staffing levels while restricting immigration?

“Er, by exactly what I just said. By encouraging, if our mechanisms in this country… Obviously it’s… We would… also I personally firmly believe that if somebody wants to come and work here and uh contribute to society, that’s very different from somebody arriving here and being put straight into social housing, going on benefits and not working. So let’s make that distinction clear.

“But I also believe by exactly what I just said, encouraging more people who were thinking about getting into the medical profession, both nurses and doctors, we will be able to fill that gap a little better with our with our own homegrown candidates.”

I see. So, I can see that you care a lot about about the local environment and some of your tweets that I’ve looked at. How do you feel about Reform’s policy on scrapping net zero which would arguably the impact of climate change…?

“First of all I’m going to I’m going to precede what I’m about to say by saying we have a duty to look after this Earth. This is where we live, if we don’t look after it with stuffed so I’m very aware of that. Actually I was a trustee charity called Wildlife Vets International for 15 years, particularly looking after obviously wild animals that were at risk of extinction, etcetera etcetera. So I’m very much on board.

“What I have seen personally from the Conservatives is that a huge amount of money has gone into private businesses under the umbrella of net zero. More money than could ever needed to be and not necessarily achieving. It’s very easy to say yes ‘we are doing this and it’s green’. So for everybody who doesn’t understand the full mechanism of it, will say ‘well great it’s for green so it must be good’. But I think… everybody realises and certainly as the Reform party realises, what is the expense on net zero and the mechanisms in which in which it is utilised needs to be scrutinised like a fine tooth comb because there is a huge amount of waste.

“There is a huge amount of money that’s been invested into projects that actually are completely… their value is, it doesn’t equate to the amount of money that’s been invested in it.”

Such as? Could you name a couple of those projects…? Could you name a couple of those projects that have seen waste?

“Yep. Erm, for example I believe that wind farms, electro… making energy from… wind. I know that the government subsidies for that are huge. If you read, I think it’s this week, there is a problem with that mechanism because the excess energy is… it it’s not worth anything.

“I can’t remember, there’s an article which I’m going to look up and forward to you. But that is an example, it’s a level of investment and subsidies that have gone into things like that, that are lining people who are already incredibly wealthy, which are frankly wasted, it could be better used than other places.

“We’re not saying that we shouldn’t look after environment but what we are saying is that the government’s net zero policies need to be scrutinised in great detail before we go any… and probably need to be scrapped. It needs to be re-thought because, yeah, there are more important things such as social housing. If somebody’s homeless children are struggling at school and they can’t buy enough food to their children, suddenly that is possibly more important than subsidies going up to some line of pockets of somebody who is already very wealthy and going to a wind farm for example.”

Okay, thank you. Let’s move on to tax reform. So Reform proposes significant tax cuts and spending increases can you provide a breakdown of how you intend to fund these measures without leading to a Liz Truss-style economic crisis?

“I think the first the first and most important mechanism from my perspective is the taxation families. As a society and for future generations, the family must be supported completely. At the moment married couples and or partners are taxed separately. So they’re paying tax effectively twice but we intend to do is tax their income as a whole.

“So for example they could earn £50,000 before they started paying any tax together, ascan example rather than taxing each of them individually… That puts already a huge amount of money much more money into the pot for families. They would spend that on their children, on food on all the essential things that need to be bought. That in turn will create growth and the economy… it’s a different mechanism and it’s a proven mechanism.

“I know that all the parties… you know none of the numbers quite add up and I do accept that. But um I think the mechanism for tax change, we do desperately need to reduce taxes. The food banks in the area, the foot used to be donated so people used to buy an extra can of beans or an extra pasta or whatever and donate it to the food back. Now uh 80% of it is has to be funded by other means by charitable means, through raising money and what not. Why is that? Because people cannot afford to. It’s not just the lowest denominators in society, the people who are really struggling it’s sort of uh slightly more wealthy. The cost of living has gone up so much that people just cannot afford any more to give an extra pasta or beans.

“Then you only have to go to any of your food banks in the constituency that see that happening. The other thing is I think more than half of the few parcels that go out are for children, that’s desperately desperately sad so we really really really do need to relieve that tax burden for families. That is, it’s got to be a priority and we will make that happen.”

Thank you. I think I’ve only got one question left… Why should vote is in Hammersmith  & Chiswick vote for you and not for another party?

“Well a Labour MP in for a very long time and you have a Conservative government. I think you have to look at the area where you are  economically the the pluses and minuses and say: hang on a second this is just not working. What has gone on is just not working. They’ve had a long time years and years and years, you’ve had those Labour and Conservative mechanisms in place.

“If we do not make dramatic change in this country it is going to spiral downwards and I absolutely stand by that completely. Reform is the only party who are committed to making significant changes and significant reforms. If you go to if you vote for the same thing, you’re going to get the same results.”