Two upcoming by-elections in the City of London show yet again the democratic deficit in this rotten borough. Both the elections scheduled for 30 April 2019 will be decided by a tiny number of business voters, rather than by local people. The electorate in both wards is so small they might easily be manipulated and are made up of people who work in the area but live and have votes elsewhere. The City of London is the only council in the UK to retain the undemocratic business vote.
In Cordwainter Ward the contest is between Tracey Graham and Timothy Becker. Graham appears to work for LINK like the retiring councillor and notorious anti-democrat ‘Sir’ Mark Boleat. As for Becker, his Twitter handle is ‘charmingtoff’ and this account describes him as: “Born 1964. Educated Shrewsbury, Kings College London and Guildhall School of Music. Professional Opera Singer and Barrister.” In 2018 Becker stood unsuccessfully for a seat on the City of London council in Cheap Ward, and that led to an intervention from City of London alderman Tim Hailes (see below), who was responding to common councillor Tom Sleigh asking in a Tweet: “When will the City start attracting diverse candidates to stand for these seats?”
Perhaps the silver spoon Becker’s Twitter account might lead you to believe ought to be in his mouth has transmogrified into plastic. On the City of London council there is a massive lack of diversity, and it should also be added it lacks representatives who oppose the Corporation’s neo-liberal agenda – it’s stitched up by business votes electoral system ensures there is no possibility of diverse political views being democratically represented.
In Bassishaw Ward incumbent alderman Timothy Hailes (see his tweet above) faces a challenge from Ian Bishop-Laggett, the latter has a Twitter account on which he likes to retweet social media content from the Enfield branch of the Conservative Party. Bishop-Laggett appears to work in cyber security and it’s a mystery to us why he’s contesting the re-election of Hailes, who is in line to become Lord Mayor since he’s already been a City of London sheriff. It is not unusual for aldermen and common councillors to get ‘elected’ and ‘re-elected’ unopposed.
All four candidates in the farcical Cordwainter and Bassishaw by-elections are ‘independents’ but nonetheless support the right-wing neo-liberal agenda of the City of London. It is very hard for anyone who doesn’t hold such views to get nominated by the handful of business voters in these tiny wards. These elections will be no fairer or freer than those held in North Korea and demonstrate yet again the urgent need to democratically reform the City of London.