Bank Of England & Billy Bragg, A Marriage Made In Heaven?

To date news of pop singer Billy Bragg’s lecture The Struggle for Accountability in the Digital Age, to be given at the Bank of England on 19 April 2018, has failed to make much impact in the media or even online! We’ve only spotted a small diary entry from the Daily Mail and this from The Guardian:

The pro-Corbyn protester who formed a punk band in 1977 and gigged for striking miners in the 1980s will give a speech next week at Threadneedle Street. It will be followed by a networking reception with Britain’s biggest bankers, more used to discussing gilt-edged securities than listening to Bragg’s cover versions of the Red Flag.

“I’m not going to be calling for the overthrow of capitalism” said Bragg, who will instead focus on the “increasing alienation of ordinary citizens”, which he believes was partly behind Brexit and Trump’s victory.

He said politicians have been almost entirely captured by the ideology of the free market, which has then absolved them of responsibility. “Democracy is not enough. We need to hold corporations to account,” said Bragg…

Billy Bragg to lecture central bankers on how to build a new England by Patrick Collinson, The Guardian, 8 April 2018.

While democracy may or may not be enough, contra Bragg, in the City of London – where the Bank of England is located and in whose politics it looms large- democracy would make a huge difference not just to the residents of this rotten borough, but the entire world. It isn’t clear whether Bragg doesn’t know or doesn’t care that 80% of City of London councillors are ‘elected’ on undemocratic business votes and that local residents have virtually no say in the running of the area. Bragg implies we already have democracy when we don’t. Sometimes people say they don’t care about this after deluding themselves into thinking only rich people live in the City of London, despite the fact it contains two council estates and its Portsoken ward has the worst child poverty rate in the UK. Also significant is the fact the rotten borough Bragg’s being feted in is the power base from which the finance industry plots its course of state capture and tax havenry around the world. Establishing democracy in the City of London by – among other things – abolishing the business vote, would do much to curb the unchecked power of the wealthy elite’s financial lobby.

The City spends huge amounts of money sending its Lord Mayor around the world to disseminate propaganda in favour of free market liberalisation and tax havens. It also provided key funding to the property development lobby group The Housing & Finance Institute (HFI), which is chaired by the former head of the City of London council Mark Boleat. If Bragg’s politics are genuine rather than simply a way of flogging more vinyl, it is difficult to understand why he isn’t addressing such matters when drumming up publicity for his talk at the Bank of England. Here’s Bragg quoted in the Daily Mirror earlier this year, and if he means what he says then he ought to be concerned about City’s lack of democracy and backing for groups like the HFI:

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg said Britain was a world leader in music culture, and allowing small venues to close would “cut it off at the knees.”

He suggested Ed Sheeran was an example of how the small venue circuit can build an artist up to global stardom.

He said: “Look at his career path. Gig after gig after gig. It’s still there, that circuit. But the tidal wave of property development is starting to threaten it now.”

Rock legends descend on Westminster to back bid to save legendary live music venues by Mikey Smith, Daily Mirror, 10 January 2018.

Stopping that tidal wave of property development means tackling its financial lobbyists in their City of London stronghold, and attacking their bulwark the business vote. So if the singer gigging next week at the Bank of England doesn’t want to become known as Billy ‘Big Mouth’ Bragg, he needs to sharpen his political analysis and stand shoulder to shoulder with those calling for democratic reform in the City of London! Sadly it is not possible to take democracy as a given in the ‘Square Mile’, or many other places around the world, as Bragg’s Guardian quote falsely implies. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of politicians in the City of London have not been ‘almost entirely captured by the ideology of the free market’ as the Guardian story about Bragg cited above states, rather they have played a key role in promoting this dogma globally because they wholeheartedly believe in taking money from the poor and redistributing it to the rich. We hope that once Bragg fully understands these issues, he will take a stand on them! If he doesn’t then he’s taking on the role of being a useful idiot for the City of London and the finance industry.

Pippa Henslowe.

0BillyBragg
Billy Bragg, a man whose opinions could be music to the Bank of England’s ears.

Notes.

Billy Bragg to lecture central bankers on how to build a new England by Patrick Collinson: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/apr/08/billy-bragg-to-give-speech-on-how-to-build-a-better-society-at-boe

Rock legends descend on Westminster to back bid to save legendary live music venues by Mikey Smith: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/rock-legends-descend-westminster-back-11830704

One Bank Flagship Seminar – Billy Bragg: The Struggle for Accountability in the Digital Age. Event date: Thursday 19 April 2018. Venue: Bank of England Conference Centre. Time: 16:00 – 17:00. The seminar will be followed by a networking reception with the speaker: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/events/2018/april/one-bank-flagship-seminar-billy-bragg

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