NUS Black Students’ Campaign Officer Aaron Kiely, who led the recent protests against Marine Le Pen speaking at the Cambridge Union Society, has come under fire in his constituency of South Ockendon for racist statements and absenteeism.
Kiely was scathingly criticised for his poor attendance record as ward councillor of South Ockendon in the Thurrock borough. He allegedly attended only one council meeting in 2012 but still cashed in allowances worth £6,667.
Since his appointment to the NUS role, accusations have been made that he neglected his duties as councillor. These were first voiced by the online newspaper Your Thurrock and subsequently picked up by the Daily Mail. An editorial comment published by the local newspaper alleges that since his election as “Black Students Officer for the National Union of Students, it almost appeared as if he was taken on a new character, almost a method politician.”
Kiely’s behaviour has been further called into question in a recent letter to Your Thurrock, where Peter Perrin wrote: “Taking account of his conduct as a councillor over the past nineteen months, his comments are nothing more than brazen-faced deceit. He is conspicuous by his absence from Council meetings, condescending to appear twice a year, he has rarely, if ever, attended the South Ockendon Residents Association meetings.”
Censure of Kiely’s behaviour has more recently been expressed by Cambridge residents and students, following the involvement of the NUS officer in the Marine Le Pen protests.
Commenting on Kiely’s involvement in organising the recent protests, one student told The Cambridge Student: “The turnout was much lower than expected. Kiely is hated by many student campaigners – prior to the protest a number of local activists were circulating emails with a link to an article that appeared in Worker’s Liberty describing him as “… a cynical, fake-left careerist”, and expressing concerns that Kiely’s self-appointed leadership of a campaign that could and should have been organised at a local level put many of us in two minds about attending a protest led by him.”
This was a view shared by Mark, a local resident, who told TCS: “As a Cambridge resident in my fifties, I have in past always turned out to show my support against the rising tide of fascism, I even stood alongside you all when Jean- Marie Le Pen spoke at the Union a few years ago. Today, I stayed at home – how could you allow your campaign be hijacked by a man that has shamed all workers and my party with his disgraceful behavior as a Labour Councillor in Essex?”
Kiely has also been accused in the past of racist attitudes as he commented on Twitter: “Tories don’t offer black communities anything apart from misery and whipped up racism. My honest opinion…” Thurrock’s Conservative Councillor and former Deputy Mayor, Tunde Ojetola, reacted immediately to Kiely’s comments replying: “As a black man and a proud Conservative, Cllr. Kiely’s slur appals me.”
Pointing out that the Conservative Party offered every community in Thurrock, and in Britain, “the same thing – an opportunity to be part of a better, united Britain”, he added: “Cllr Kiely’s comments spread an ‘us and them’ mentality, which aims to divide Thurrock according to race and colour.”
Kiely also appeared supportive of Abu Hamza, tweeting: “British government deporting British citizens to the bastion of human rights that is the USA #shame”.
Speaking to TCS, a Cambridge student suggested that Kiely had an ominous Twitter record: “Have you read his Tweets? He’s a racist himself, I doubt your left-wing rag will bother to print the truth – that the deluded class war rent-a-crowd types who went to the protest get so little support from the wider public because they blindly follow a man who supports Abu Hamza and the London Riots”.
Although an official investigation was launched in October last year by the Labour leader of the Thurrock Council, John Kent, the outcome is yet to be announced. Neither Aaron Kiely nor John Kent have been available for comment.
Timur Cetin – Deputy News Editor