The shameless opportunists at the richest and least democratic local authority in the UK AKA The City of London Corporation like to promote themselves as everyone’s friend, while endless stabbing those who aren’t ‘high net worth individuals’ in the back via their lobbying for ‘market liberalisations‘ that benefit the rich and rob the poor. To further this crooked agenda the City of London is now jumping on the Pride bandwagon:
The thousand-year-old City of London Corporation has announced plans to march at Pride for the first time.
The obscure-but-powerful organisation, which dates back to at least 1067, has governed inside the City of London’s Square Mile for centuries – and now governs much of the city’s businesses.
However, apparently being roughly a millennium old and bound by a string of archaic traditions does not prevent the body from being inclusive.
It was announced this week that “around 50 elected Members and staff” from the governing body will take part in this year’s Pride in London march on July 7, along with students from the City of London’s schools and academies.
Representatives from the City of London Police and the City Corporation’s staff networks will also join.
Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “City Pride, the City Corporation’s LGBT+ Staff Network, put forward the idea to take part in Pride this year.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to get involved in this celebratory and colourful event that reminds everyone of the importance of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance…
…This year’s Pride in London parade has been rocked by controversy.
LGBT charity Stonewall has vowed to boycott the event after a fall-out with organisers – the first time in decades the group will have no presence at the city’s Pride celebrations.
Stonewall accused Pride organisers of failing to take concerns about race and diversity seriously.
950-year-old City of London Corporation to march at Pride for the first time by Nick Duffy, Pink News, 31st May 2018.
Those criticising Pride for ‘failing to take concerns about race and diversity seriously’ are likely to be less than impressed by some of the City of London politicians promoting the event, and in particular the councillor for Dowgate ward Mark Wheatley – who on 1 June 2018 Tweeted a link to City Matters news coverage of the Corporation and Pride, with the comment: “Proud to be able to join the celebrations in July.’
Last month Wheatley was the subject of negative news coverage that unfortunately failed to fully investigate both him and the political aims of the controversial Guildhall event he participated in:
The staging of an event intended to establish post-Brexit links with a senior far-right politician from Italy’s incoming government, and which was attended by business and political figures including Nigel Farage, has provoked a row within the City of London Corporation.
Organisers of the working lunch for Armando Siri, a senator for Italy’s League party, have been criticised for “rolling out the red carpet for the far right” at the event inside the City’s historic Guildhall…
Moves are also under way to review how council property is used after one of the City’s guilds, or “livery companies”, booked the premises used.
Those who listened to Siri’s presentation included investment fund managers, financial figures and political representatives. Among them was Elizabeth Green, a former marketing and public relations executive and one of the frontrunners in an upcoming election for sheriff of the City of London…
Mark Wheatley, a Brexit-supporting City of London councillor who facilitated the event, declined to comment.
Mark Wheatley (@MarkinDowgate) With a great group of business, political City and Livery people in Guildhall for Senator @armandosiri pic.twitter.com/jCQoebHzNe May 21, 2018
City row after Guildhall is used to host Italian far-right politician by Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 22 May 2018.
In this post we will focus on Wheatley’s hard right conservative politics – which have many parallels with Siri’s ideology, despite the former being a member of the Conservative party rather than The League – so we won’t go into the curious political agenda behind the Guildhall meeting in any detail here. For now we’ll restrict ourselves to saying that Wheatley sits on the ‘advisory council’ of Select Milano alongside a second City of London councillor Michael Mainelli, and Ian Bonny of The Worshipful Company of Management Consultants (the organisation that appears to have hosted Siri’s Guildhall bash). Select Milano aims to outflank Paris and Frankfurt and make Milan the financial hub of the Eurozone in a post-Brexit world, either as a junior partner to the City of London, or its proxy. Wheatley doesn’t have anything like Mainelli’s status within the City and so his role in Select Milano looks like it is considerably less significant than that of this Anglo-Italian free market lobbyist. None of this was even touched on in The Guardian piece cited above or any other press coverage we saw of the scandal.
Anyone who scans through Wheatley’s Twitter profile will soon stumble upon a number of extremely offensive ‘political’ posts which are mashed up between family photos and links to kitsch pop hits of yesteryear. For example, on 18 February 2015, Wheatley posted a photograph of a monkey holding a chicken and captioned it: “Joe Biden?” At the time Biden was vice president to Barack Obama and it isn’t difficult to figure out which animal is supposed to be associated with which man. Incidentally such racist tropes can be traced back to anti-Catholic propaganda produced in Grub Street, which lies outside the City of London wall but that is currently included in the Corporation’s administrative area. It was the Irish who were initially portrayed as monkeys by the City’s bigoted protestant propagandists whose slurs were used to justify the massacres committed in England’s first colony by Cromwell and others.
Wheatley has a predictable line in baiting people currently fighting racism and reaction by claiming the real anti-fascists were those in the armed forces who fought against the Nazis. This kind of rhetoric is common among British right-wing extremists who wish to brush off charges of fascism. Since Nazism is only one among quite a number of competing fascist ideologies, fighting Nazism does not in itself prove one is not a fascist. From the 1920s to the present day there have been fascists who have opposed Nazism with variant far-Right ideologies.
Like classical fascists, the nouvelle droite and the more recent alt-right, Wheatley seems to like synthesising elements of the left and right but always on the terrain of the hard right. As long ago as the 1960s, figures such as Alain de Benoist, were developing ‘pro-LGBT’ and ‘anti-colonial’ fascist ideologies, which supported indigenous struggles around the world but were always most concerned with defending a mythical white European identity. Ultimately race is not real but is experienced as real because of racism: on the basis of his Twitter posts we can safely conclude this insight has evaded Wheatley. He is however willing to mobilise material critical of Nazism to defend today’s fascists. On 18 August 2017, Wheatley posted a picture of an English translation of Mendelssohn is on the Roof by Jiri Weil and said: “…this book is fabulous. It opens with Nazis removing a statue. #Charlottesville #america”.
In short, Wheatley uses Weil’s novel about the Nazi occupation of Prague to compare anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville to Nazis. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Charlottesville:
The Unite the Right rally, also known as the Charlottesville rally, Charlottesville riots, or A12, was a far-right rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, from August 11 to 12, 2017. Its stated goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Organizer Nathan Damigo said the rally was intended to unify the white nationalist movement in the United States. Protesters included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and various militias. Some of the marchers chanted racist and antisemitic slogans, carried semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, Confederate battle flags, and anti-Muslim and antisemitic banners… On the morning of August 12, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, stating that public safety could not be safeguarded without additional powers. Within an hour, the Virginia State Police declared the assembly to be unlawful. At around 1:45 p.m., a man linked to white-supremacist groups rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) away from the rally site, killing one person and injuring 19. The alleged perpetrator, James Alex Fields Jr., was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Attorney General Jeff Sessions described the attack as domestic terrorism, and authorities began a civil rights investigation to determine if the driver will be tried under hate crime statutes.
On 2 September 2016, Wheatley posted about wanting to persuade his wife and daughter to allow him to call his son Xenophon. One doesn’t have to share Wheatley’s love of schoolbook level classical culture to know Xenophon was a student of Socrates associated with right-wing views and the favouring of oligarchy over democracy. Wheatley represents an undemocratic business vote ward in the City of London, so his publicly expressed desire to call his son Xenophon is unsurprising.
Given the anti-regulation mania of the City of London, many of its councillors are likely to share Wheatley’s taste for the nutty right-winger Ayn Rand, but most would probably refrain from posting a quote by this zealot on Twitter as the Dowgate councillor did on 24 November 2017. Wikipedia’s entry on Rand currently states that during appearances at the Ford Hall Forum: “she often took controversial stances on political and social issues of the day. These included supporting abortion rights, opposing the Vietnam War and the military draft (but condemning many draft dodgers as “bums”), supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 against a coalition of Arab nations as “civilized men fighting savages”, saying European colonists had the right to develop land taken from American Indians, and calling homosexuality “immoral” and “disgusting”, while also advocating the repeal of all laws about it. She also endorsed several Republican candidates for President of the United States, most strongly Barry Goldwater in 1964….”
Addressing Rand’s critical reception, Wikipedia notes: “On the 100th anniversary of Rand’s birth in 2005, Edward Rothstein, writing for The New York Times, referred to her fictional writing as quaint utopian ‘retro fantasy’ and programmatic neo-Romanticism of the misunderstood artist while criticizing her characters’ ‘isolated rejection of democratic society’. In 2007, book critic Leslie Clark described her fiction as ‘romance novels with a patina of pseudo-philosophy’.
Returning to Wheatley’s peculiar ‘anti-racism’, his tweet on 2 April 2018 – the day of Winnie Mandela’s death – revives memories of the way the Federation of Conservative Students baited anti-apartheid campaigners in the early 1980s with the slogan ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’. Wheatley’s update runs: “This (Dave Allen) joke did more to defeat #apartheid than all the horror of #winniemandela. It was not crushed by violence but fell through Western public opinion.” This is a classic example of a racist trope since it suggests the victims of racism were the victimisers, an inversion that was a key element of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. It was apartheid regimes that were violent and not those who opposed them. Likewise to suggest Western public opinion rather than ongoing liberation struggles led to the end of apartheid is not only untrue, it smacks of a postcolonial ‘white man’s burden’.
Born on 4 June 1966, Wheatley is just old enough to have belonged to the Federation of Conservative Students before it was disbanded in 1986 because its extremism was an embarrassment to the Conservative Party. Wheatley may or may not have been a member of the Federation of Conservative Students, but his views reflect positions held at times by both its libertarian and authoritarian factions. While it comes as no surprise that Wheatley should achieve public office in the anti-democratic and oligarchical City of London, Pride really shouldn’t be accepting support from divisive figures like him or the undemocratic local authority with whom he is a councillor.
Mark Raymond Peter Henry Delano Wheatley, Dowgate councillor and director of Parkwell Management Consultants. Was it Bob Hope’s love of the military that two years ago led Wheatley to move to the street in Eltham where this ‘entertainer’ was born in 1903? Tom Dyckhoff writing a Guardian property feature on Eltham on 22 November 2008 said Bob Hope: “thought enough of the place to help save the theatre (renamed in his honour) in the 80s. In fact, the burb’s seen more than its fair share of celebrity: Frankie Howerd, Boy George, Denis Healey, Jude Law, Louise Redknapp and Kate Bush have all passed through. It’s practically London’s Beverly Hills. The case against The shadow of Stephen Lawrence’s murder still hangs heavy. Don’t come here expecting cosmopolitan London. Watch for chronic rat runs.”
950-year-old City of London Corporation to march at Pride for the first time by Nick Duffy: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/05/31/950-year-old-city-of-london-corporation-pride/
Mark Wheatley’s Twitter feed at Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20180604120509/https:/twitter.com/MarkinDowgate/
City row after Guildhall is used to host Italian far-right politician by Ben Quinn: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/22/city-row-guildhall-used-host-italian-far-right-politician
Wikipedia on Charlottesville: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite_the_Right_rally
Wikipedia on Ayn Rand: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand
Let’s Move To… Eltham, South East London by Tom Dyckhoff: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/nov/22/move-to-eltham-london
Councillors cry foul over party politics in Guildhall by Jo Davy: https://www.citymatters.london/city-councillors-cry-foul-party-politics-guildhall/