How Hossain or Hall might lead London

Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter, takes a closer look at the two Conservative politicians vying to challenge Sadiq Khan at next year’s London mayoral election

Mozammel ‘Moz’ Hossain (left) and Susan Hall (right)
Mozammel ‘Moz’ Hossain (left) and Susan Hall (right)

Introducing Mozammel ‘Moz’ Hossain

Born in the village of Barisal, Bangladesh, Hossain says he grew up in a wooden hut, with a mud floor and tin roof. He did not own a pair of shoes until he was 16. At the age of 21, he moved to the UK and studied law in Liverpool for four years, before coming to London in 1999.

Ten years later, Hossain became a British citizen, which he said was one of his “proudest moments”. Another decade later, in 2019, he became the first Bangladeshi-born criminal barrister ever to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel. Hossain practises at 187 Chambers, the website of which says he “has been involved in some of the most complex and high-profile cases in the country”.

Introducing Susan Hall

Describing herself as a “Londoner through and through”, Hall started her professional life working in her father’s garage, where she had been taught how to strip down car engines. After marrying a hairdresser, Hall opened a salon with him, employing up to 20 people at one stage.

In 2006, she was elected as a Harrow borough councillor, and has represented Hatch End on the authority ever since. For a period in 2013/14, she was the council’s leader.

In 2017, Hall joined the London Assembly, where she regularly challenges Khan during public meetings. From 2019 until earlier this year, she was leader of the assembly’s Conservative group.

Hall has said that she tends to say “exactly what I’m thinking” and that she would seek to “be more direct with Londoners” than Khan. She has called Twitter her “hobby” and has a sizable following of some 20,700 accounts on the social media platform.

What are Hossain’s policies?

As a criminal barrister, Hossain has focused much of his policy offering on crime – though he has also emphasised his plan to scrap Khan’s London-wide Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) expansion, which is due to come into force next month.

If elected, he has said he would “cut the head off” gangs to tackle knife crime and phone robberies. He has said he will establish a “targeted termination team” within the Met Police, with the sole purpose of hunting and arresting gang leaders.

He has also pledged to increase “intelligence-based stop and search”, as well as boosting police visibility in London, placing CCTV at every bus stop and ensuring every street in the capital is “brightly lit” at night.

On Ulez, he said he will switch off the enforcement cameras in outer London “on day one” of his mayoralty. He argues that expanding Ulez – which imposes a £12.50 daily charge on non-compliant vehicles – to cover the whole of London is “immeasurably cruel” during a cost of living crisis.

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Hossain has also talked about making homes more affordable and improving transport connectivity.

What are Hall’s policies?

Hall has said her “passion is policing”. She has pledged to invest £200m in the Met Police “to tackle the scourge of knives, modernise the police to use the latest artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology, and work to dismantle the gangs and organised crime networks that ruin so many lives”.

She has also said she will on “day one” scrap Khan’s “disastrous” plan to expand Ulez, meaning that outer London will not be covered by the zone following her election. Hall plans to abolish 20mph limits from the capital’s main roads, while retaining the limit in residential areas and around schools.

Hall has also pledged to “build a lot more homes in the right places” and says that she would move away from high rise tower blocks full of one and two-bedroom flats to “high density, low rise” family homes, promising residents their “own front door and patch of garden, even if it is just a postage stamp”.

Could Hossain defeat Sadiq Khan?

According to James Johnson, a former Downing Street pollster who worked under Theresa May, “the Tories’ best bet [in the 2024 mayoral election] is the outside choice”. James describes Hossain as the “ultimate outsider”, given his backstory, and says that members “need to gamble to win London’s mayoralty”.

Polling by James’s JL Partners firm showed that Hossain’s background – when presented blindly alongside that of Daniel Korski (who has since withdrawn from the race) and Susan Hall – was the top choice at 41%, compared with 21% and 18% for the other two.

Hall’s supporters point out however that Hossain has never held elected office before, and is untested in that respect. His campaign has also been hit by scandal, as members of his campaign team can be seen in the recently-published ‘partygate’ video. If Hossain is selected as the Conservative candidate, the video is likely to be used against him by Khan.

Could Hall defeat Sadiq Khan?

Hall’s supporters point out that unlike Hossain or Daniel Korski before his withdrawal from the race, Hall has fought and won elections. She has gathered years of experience at City Hall and says she is “the one Sadiq Khan fears”.

James Johnson, a former Downing Street pollster who worked under Theresa May, has however warned that Hall “would be a fine candidate but she would be a dull one”. He added: “She has said so herself, calling her campaign ‘Safer with Susan’ and talking about the need for a “boring” person in City Hall.

“But the Conservatives cannot afford boring. Voters want radicalism, excitement, and a clear alternative to what they see as a failed mayor.”

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