New contributor Mark Newton shares his views on the “dubious record” of Lady Borwick, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Kensington
Kensington, Kensington, its name beats the drum of the Conservative heartland of London. Tory grandees have worked long and hard to be fortified in this Bastion with greats like Alan Clark, Michael Portillo and Malcom Rifkind amongst its previous tenants. To be given Kensington is to be awarded one of the safest, and most convenient seats in the land – a prize to be won by only the hardest working, and most industrious of MPs and this, to my mind, makes the continued selection of Lady Borwick (née Victoria Poore) as the Tory candidate even harder to understand.
Known locally by the epithet ‘Lazy Borwick’, this latest MP is cast quite differently from the usual Kensington mould. Lady (‘Call me Victoria’) Borwick’s stance on Brexit, lousy debate participation and letter response history, questionable use of public funds and ongoing links to shady businesses is creating quite the heated storm in the chattering leafy private gardens of Kensington. Over the next three articles, I’ll be taking a look at Lady Borwick to try to get to the bottom of how and why one of the safest Tory seats of the land came to be held by the one of the least worthy occupants.
Lady Borwick succeeded in getting her hands on Kensington after Malcolm Rifkind stepped down at the 2015 General Election. The circumstances of that coup are somewhat strange, not least because of the history of Kensington in selecting high profile and hard working MPs. What seems to have happened is simple nepotism. Lady Borwick, having twice failed to make the selection list for London mayor during Steven Norris’ candidacy, finally slid into the London Assembly in 2008 as one of three London-wide Conservative members. From there it was an easy promotion from Boris Johnson to the Deputy Mayorhood, and it seems no-one less than the great ‘BoJo’ himself shoe-horned her into the Kensington seat ahead of better qualified and more industrious candidates.
So why then is the epithet ‘Lazy Borwick’ doing the rounds in the Royal Borough? Surprisingly, it has very little to do with her controversial Brexit stance in a strongly Remain constituency. What’s got Conservatives up in arms is her uselessness as a constituency MP. According to the MP tracking website TheyWorkForYou, Lady Borwick’s response rate to written enquiries is just 18% – an abysmal score that places her 618th on a list of 641 responding MPs. If there’s one thing the well-to-do residents of Kensington don’t like it’s an MP who is too busy or lazy to respond to their well-meant enquiries, particularly a Member of Parliament who manages to be significantly less efficient than her much busier, high profile forbearers.
So, what, might you ask, is taking up so much of Lazy Borwick’s time that she can’t manage to get to her mail bag? Some suggest that it may be her tireless work for charity, yet, strangely, Lady Borwick’s parliamentary voting record seems to spit in the face of the charitable causes she purports to support. Recently, she has jumped on the laudable activities of @CleanAirLondon, a much needed initiative to clean up London’s diesel rich environment, yet in the Commons ‘Lazy Borwick’ has consistently voted against climate change measures, and against a greater public control of bus services. Hard to reconcile with the self-promotional pictures of her backing smart energy meters.
Lady Borwick also claims to support local hospitals and to regularly visit the elderly residents of Kensington. She even spoke at a recent debate in favour of mental health and mobility support. Yet in the House of Commons she has almost always voted against paying benefits to those unable to work due to illness or disability and has consistently voted against the terminally ill being given assistance to end their lives.
Finally, there are those who suggest ‘Lazy Borwick’ may simply be too busy with parliamentary duties to answer constituents’ letters, yet she spoke in just 15 debates in the last year, well below average amongst MPs, and dramatically lower than previous high profile Kensington MPs.
Whatever it is that keeps Lady Borwick entertained, it can’t then be serving the interests of her constituents, so to get answers we need to dig further, into her bizarre and odd beliefs about Europe, and her odd use of public funds and ties to ‘Big Data’ business.
Coming up next – ‘Brexit Borwick’ and residents’ anger in Kensington; the constituency with the greatest proportion of EU nationals of any London borough.
Follow Mark Newton on Twitter at @atatimelikethis.
Pictured above – ‘Woman of the people’ Lady Borwick – a “director and member of Poore and Second Poore Ltd; holding companies limited by guarantee” – aboard a 40-metre yacht in 2014 with Sunseeker Cheshire’s Jonathan Kingsley. At the time Mr Kingsley commented: “It was a wonderful opportunity to promote our iconic brand and reinforce the British success of Sunseeker to this high profile, influential Lady. She, and her son, adored the boat”.