Samuel Kasumu is one of nine Conservatives to publicly declare his candidacy for Mayor of London, he is a former advisor to Boris Johnson where he covered the Civil Society and Communities brief. His work included leading the cross-government vaccine deployment and whilst he has been at the front and centre of politics for some time, he remains a relative unknown.
Kasumu began his political journey delivering leaflets for Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers. Whilst he admits that he probably wouldn’t be where he was today if not for his political activism with her, when it comes to housing, the pair do not exactly see eye to eye. Writing in Conservative Home last November he said, “I’m afraid to say I stand against Theresa Villiers’ amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to abolish housing targets. We don’t need to scrap house-building targets; we need better planning from the Mayor of London and more accountability from the Boroughs on how they meet the targets.’
Speaking to the Express recently Kasumu explains that his passion for housing is not ‘politically convenient’ but born out of his experience of insecure housing as a child he adds “I grew up in social housing, we moved a lot. I probably moved homes every year between the age of 7 and 13.”
He makes no apologies for calling out politicians who campaign against new housing for apparent political gain describing it as ‘just wrong’. A growing caucus of senior Conservatives including Simon Clarke MP, Brandon Lewis MP, Charles Walker MP and Lord Frost continue making the passionate case for building more homes, winning praise from cross-party campaign groups such as PricedOutUK. And it’s not difficult to see why, recent polling by Savanta shows that housing is one of the top three priorities concerning young people. Meanwhile, a bombshell report by Onward suggests that if a general election was held tomorrow only 21% of those aged 25-40 would consider voting Conservative whilst 62% said the party ‘deserved to lose the next election’ and just 8% said it “stands up for people like me.”
Kasumu has pledged that if selected, the manta of his campaign would be ‘build, build, build’ pledging to reopen the London Plan on day one of his mayoralty to allow the capital to get closer to building at least 66,000 new homes a year. This would be achieved by turbocharging construction on land owned by the Mayor and Transport for London with a significant proportion earmarked as affordable rent allowing more young people to save for a deposit. He has also pledged to introduce the publication of ‘house-building league tables’ for each London borough. Any council which finds itself in the bottom quartile will be asked to attend a public hearing where they will have to explain why they are underperforming. Fundamentally, he is a politician who wants his generation of Londoners to have the same opportunities as those who came before, to own their own home and have a real stake in society by putting down roots in their community.
Unusually, he cites the lesser-known Harold Macmillan as his political hero who served as Housing Minister under Churchill and was entrusted to fulfil the pledge to build 300,000 houses per year following the Conservative’s election victory in October 1951. The target, as Churchill preferred to call it had been adopted at the party’s annual conference the previous autumn. The Conservative Party is expected to announce its candidate towards the end of July following a series of hustings with the shortlisted candidates to be followed by a ballot of party members across the capital. Whilst scrapping ULEZ is likely to be a key pillar of the successful candidate’s campaign, whoever is chosen will need a bold policy platform if they are to reverse their party’s fortunes.