With a general election campaign in full swing, the Tory candidate Nickie Aiken was knocking on doors in Cripplegate and Aldersgate earlier this week – wards in the Two Cities AKA Cities of London & Westminter constituency. Aiken’s query ‘can I count on your vote?’ seemed on the whole to receive a frosty reception. At times Aiken was pointing out that ‘I’m the only woman standing’ and ‘I’m a one nation Conservative’ – although Jenn Selby of the Women’s Equality Party had planned to stand in Two Cities but stepped aside after the sitting Tory MP Mark Field who her party had targeted stood down and the Lib Dems announced they were adopting key WEP policies on tackling violence. And while Aiken may once have been a ‘one nation Conservative’, it is difficult to see anyone standing for the party Boris Johnson currently leads as meeting that description. We’ve previously addressed Field’s violent behaviour, the On London website carried the following on Aiken and Field on 21 November 2019:
“Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken is defending for the Tories, though she is not the incumbent. Mark Field had held the seat since 2001, but announced in October he would be standing down. This came in the wake of his physical ejection of a female Greenpeace activist from a black-tie City do and subsequent suspension as a foreign office minister.
The incident would have cast a shadow, even though Field apologised to the woman concerned and no further action was taken, including by the police. But the reason he gave for standing down was Brexit: “The truth is that emotionally and geopolitically I still believe in my heart that the UK would be better served by remaining in or very closely aligned to the EU”. Another London MP who knows Field well puts it this way: “He couldn’t have stomached backing Boris Johnson’s deal on the doorstep.” See Election 2019: Differing tales of ‘Two Cities’ as Tories face challenge on two fronts by Dave Hill: https://www.onlondon.co.uk/general-election-2019-differing-tales-of-two-cities-as-tories-face-challenge-on-two-fronts/
The reasons for the cops failing to take further action against Field still requires an explanation that takes into account whether or not the unhealthy relationship between the City of London Police and the council of the same name (which is the police authority for this force) had any bearing on that decision – since this local authority also enjoyed a cosy relationship with Mark Field and his Tory party activist in-laws Charlie and Natalie Elphike (the later having been a key player in the Housing & Finance Institute, alongside the likes of the last City of London council boss Mark Boleat). Field’s attack on environmental activist Janet Barker actually took place at a City of London council do at the Mansion House, and there was an obvious potential conflict of interest because the City police must have been aware that their police authority might not have liked them deciding to prosecute a high profile guest for his antics at one of its dinners. For probity to be seen to be maintained the decision on this matter should have been passed on to another force – and why this didn’t happen should be addressed in detail by both the City police and their police authority the City of London common council.*
Moving forward, on a general election 2019 web page the Women’s Equality Party state: “four out of the five MPs we targeted have stood down and the Liberal Democrats have announced that they will be adopting our key policies for tackling violence – these are huge successes, and we are continuing to campaign in Bury South, Luton North and Dover to have even more impact during this General Election.”
While Brexit may have been an issue for Field, his failure to mention his attack on Janet Barker and the impact this would have had on his chances of re-election when standing down from the Two Cities seat appears disingenuous. You’d think that once local Tories had got rid of a liability as huge as Mark Field they’d want to put him behind them, but a glance at the Two Cities 2019 general election notice shows that he proposed the current candidate Nickie Aiken. So Aiken comes with Field’s backing and blessing and may not have been the current Two Cities Conservative candidate without this help.
See the full document at: https://web.archive.org/web/20191115135422/https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/statement_of_persons_nominated_notice_of_poll_and_situation_of_polling_stations_cities_of_london_and_westminster_constituency.pdf
Likewise, Aiken’s seconder Farah Farazad posted on Twitter a picture of herself proudly posing with Mark Field after he attacked Janet Barker.
Returning to Aiken, as Conservative Home reported on 4 November 2019: “Cllr Nickie Aiken is the new candidate for the Two Cities, having won a selection meeting last night. Much of her career has been spent in the media – she presented for BBC Wales – and media relations, where she has worked as a press secretary for William Hague and run communications for the Children’s Society, and she is a specialist in crisis communications. She is a Westminster Councillor, and has been leader of the borough since 2017. She has written several times for this site.” (see: https://web.archive.org/web/20191105040402/https://www.conservativehome.com/parliament/2019/11/aiken-selected-as-cities-of-london-and-westminster-candidate.html).
As the Dave Hill On London piece cited above makes clear: “Like Field, Aiken voted Remain in 2016, as did an estimated 72 per cent of her potential constituents. But she showed no similar inhibitions at the hustings in Victoria’s stately Goring Hotel, an event jointly organised for their members by the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses. “Regardless of how each of us voted, the consistent voice of business has been the need for certainty,” Aiken said. “That is what a majority Conservative government will provide.” She contrasted this with, in particular, the Liberal Democrats’ “revoke” approach, which she deemed “likely to lead to public unrest”. She has taken her party’s Boris deal pledge.”
Aiken is so entranced with PR and now such a pragmatic leaver that her campaign literature which was posted through doors prior to her visit to Cripplegate and Aldersgate, doesn’t mention Brexit. Aiken knows her current leave position won’t go down well with most of those in the constituency she’s contesting so she doesn’t mention it, despite it being a major election issue which makes an appearance in the Two Cities campaign leaflets of Labour and the Lib Dems. The failure to mention Brexit on election leaflets is spin and alongside Aiken’s apparently ongoing political relationship with Mark Field shows she can’t be trusted by leavers, remainers or those indifferent to the EU (or for that matter those who care about the NHS and other issues). Just as bad is Aiken’s performance as head of Westminster council and what’s taken place on her watch, like the resignation last year of her fellow Tory Robert Davis.
The former deputy leader of Westminster City Council has resigned over an investigation into his conduct.
Since January 2015, Tory councillor Robert Davis has enjoyed 514 “gifts and hospitality” in his council role.
He referred himself to the council’s monitoring officer in February, who concluded that he did not act unlawfully but that he had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
Council leader Nickie Aiken welcomed his decision.
Mr Davis, who spent 17 years as chairman of Westminster City Council’s planning committee, received hospitality from several property developers.
Under council rules any gifts and hospitality packages costing more than £25 have to be declared, and Mr Davis’s register includes trips to Switzerland, Spain,
Hazel Best, who investigated the case on behalf of the council, wrote in her report that while the “acceptance of a large number of gifts and hospitality was not unlawful”, Mr Davis “has prima facie breached the code of conduct” because a few of the gifts received from developers involved in the planning process were “too close to the planning application or decision”.
In accepting the “large scale of gifts and hospitality”, Mr Davis did not promote and support high standards of conduct through leadership and by example, as prescribed by the code.
“His conduct has attracted media and public attention which has an impact on the council as a whole,” she wrote.
Mr Davis said in a statement that while he disputed his actions brought the council into disrepute, he wished to “draw a line under the matter”.
“It is now time for me to move on to the next stage in my life, and for the next generation of councillors to lead Westminster,” he added.
Ms Aiken said: “I believe councillor Robert Davis has made the right decision to step down.
“Our residents rightly expect the highest standards of those in public office. The planning process must be and be seen to be impartial.”
Westminster councillor Robert Davis resigns over conduct investigation by anonymous, BBC website, 10 October 2018: https://web.archive.org/web/20190421013709/https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-45815856
If Aiken wants Westminster residents to see the council’s planning process as impartial then perhaps she shouldn’t have participated in networking opportunities for property developers and those who facilitate property development such as the 11 October 2018 London Property Alliance Autumn Reception at the House of Lords hosted by Mark Field. Also in attendance was former Westminster Tory councillor Alastair Moss, who by then was deputy chairman of the City of London Planning and Transportation Committee (which he now heads). The London Property Alliance is made up of the Westminster Property Association – which describes itself as ‘voice of property in Central London’ – and its sister organisation the City Property Association (which represents ‘the major owners, occupiers, developers, investors and advisers to real estate in the City of London, with more than 150 member companies and an associated network of nearly 1500 professionals’). Basically these organisations are part of a broader property ‘development’ operation to stitch up local residents in the City and Westminster while simultaneously acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for vested interests.
Alastair Moss and Nickie Aiken at the London Property Alliance 2018 Autumn Reception.
In short, just like Tory leader Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (to give him his full name), Nickie Aiken has a trust problem. Maybe Aiken should stick to her PR day job, although if her clumsy political manoeuvring is indicative of what she does 9 to 5, then she really isn’t very good at spin at all and would probably be better off dropping her media relations work too.
The header shows Nickie Aiken, Mark Field and Alastair Moss among others at the 11 October 2018 London Property Alliance Autumn Reception at the House of Lords.
* A BBC news report contains the following:
In a statement, City of London Police said it had received a number of reports that an offence of assault had occurred.
“Following careful assessment and giving consideration to the events of that evening and the subsequent views of Janet Barker in relation to the action of Mark Field MP, City of London Police will be taking no further action against Mr Field.”
We noticed that Natalie Elphike was proposed as the Tory candidate in Dover by her husband Charlie Elphike, who stepped down as MP to defend himself against currently unresolved sex assault allegations. See the Dover Constituency Statement of Persons Nominated:
And that Field/Aiken/Moss axis once again at the London Property Alliance 2018 Autumn Reception: