Maja Pawinska Sims 27 May 2022 // 4:08PM GMT
Despite having seen six UK prime ministers (at the last count) arrive in Downing Street since he entered the world of politics in 1992, political comms advisor and Westminster stalwart Alex Aiken remains deeply committed to constantly improving government communications, earning him the Outstanding Individual Achievement award at this evening's SABRE Awards in London.
Aiken was the brains and the heart behind the 2014 launch of the Government Communication Service – the professional body for more than 7,000 communicators across the UK civil service – combining personal charm and provocative intelligence to deliver an initiative that has set the global standard for public sector communications.
Aiken spent seven years in Conservative Central Office, including leading the press office, after his economics degree (and a smattering of Tory student activism) at LSE. He left after setting up the Conservative Party’s campaigns unit, during which time he gained brief public notoriety for wrestling a man in a chicken suit – sponsored by the Mirror newspaper – to the ground during the 1997 general election campaign, before it could reach then-prime minister John Major.
He then moved to Westminster City Council, where between 2000 and 2012 he was director of communications and strategy, leading the policy, member services and communications teams.
In 2012, Aiken was tasked with creating the Government Communication Service and developing cross-government campaigns. He served as GCS head of profession, responsible for government communication strategy, managing the combined Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office communications team until 2021.
Last year, he stepped back within GCS to become executive director for government communication as Simon Baugh became CEO, remaining as part of the senior leadership team and with responsibility for developing communication capability and campaigns in international, national security and the nations and regions.
Aiken has trained and advised politicians, ministers and officials in countries and states around the world in the practice of government and communications, and – as uniquely placed as he is to know more state secrets than most – won’t be drawn into public criticism of any government or minister he has worked with. When he eventually retires, the government will have lost a world-class communicator, although the stories will be worth waiting for.
Alex Aiken will be presented with his Outstanding Individual Achievement award at this evening’s sold-out SABRE Awards ceremony in London.