MP: Voters ‘wanted to send a message to national government’

Former city council leader reflects on election results

Friday, 13th May — By Tom Foot

Cllr Nickie Aiken IMG_7377

MP Nickie Aiken

FORMER city council leader Nickie Aiken was stirred from peaceful slumber around 6am on Friday with news of a living nightmare unfolding at the count in Lindley Hall, Vincent Square.

The MP for Cities of London and Westminster had stepped down as a councillor before the election and did not attend the count, having succumbed to a bout of pneumonia. Back up on her feet this week, she said she had a piece of advice for incoming Labour leader Adam Hug: “Don’t screw it up!”

She said that being council leader had been “a great honour” and that Labour “had been handed a very strong council with a very well deserved reputation”, adding: “We are blessed in Westminster to have the most amazing officers and I have no doubt they will rise to the occasion.”

She said she had written to all the new councillors in her constituency congratulating them and “stretching out a hand of friendship”.

Reflecting on the reason for the results, she said: “It was clear from the people I spoke to that people are very upset with the reports of the party in Downing Street, and also the fixed penalty notice given to the chancellor and others. What’s clear from the result is that there wasn’t a huge switch to Labour. If you look at the turnout, it was Conservative voters giving their view on the national picture by staying at home.”

When asked about whether voters were also responding to council complacency, she said: “I think from my own personal point of view I would say that voters think the council had been well run but wanted to send a message to the national government.”

Reliving the trauma, she said: “My husband woke me up at 6am saying it was looking bad in Westminster. I always thought it was going to be really close because of the national situation. But I honestly thought the Conservatives would hang on because of our reputation over the last 60 years.”

She said it was time to “get back to politics not personalities” because the country was facing the “biggest cost of living challenges in 40 years and we have got to concentrate on that”.

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