There is no need for us to say anything new about the lord mayor elect William Russell – who will replace Peter Estlin next month – since we’ve said it all before about the stitch up of top posts at the City of London council:
Many see the City of London as an old boys network shot through with nepotism. The fact that councillor William Russell has already occupied the position of aldermanic sheriff and looks set to become a Lord Mayor is indicative of this. Russell’s great grandfather Frank Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1938-1939. Frank Bowater’s older brother Thomas Vansittart Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1913-1914 and also a conservative MP for the City from 1924 to 1938. Frank Bowater’s oldest son Noel Vansittart Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1953-1954. Frank Bowater’s youngest son Ian Frank Bowater – William Russell’s grandfather – was Lord Mayor of London 1969-1970. If William Russell becomes the fifth member of his family to be Lord Mayor of London in just over 100 years, this can justly be perceived as dynastic and will serve to underscore that a local authority elected on business votes can never be meritocratic let alone democratic. Even the ultra-reactionary City A.M. rag has used the old boy phrase when covering Russell’s rise through this local authority’s hierarchy.
The Bowater family already has a building named in its honour – Bowater House on the Golden Lane Estate.* As far as we know Russell didn’t do anything to try and protect the council tenants living in it from losing up to seventy percent of the sunlight from their living rooms when the City gave planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen ghost flats development. Russell was probably too busy partying with his ‘celebrity’ circle – the television personality Damian Lewis is his half-brother – to care about what was happening to a block of council flats bearing the maternal family name.
William Russell, Barker Bridge, The City of London, Cronyism & Self-Aggrandisement by Pippa Henslowe, ReclaimEC1, 9 August 2018.
We also wrote about William Russell in out post of 30 August 2018 Re-Election of William Russell in Bread Street A Farce. That piece has its focus as much on what is wrong with the City’s electoral system as the new lord mayor. With regard to the election of the lord mayor it is also worth noting the utterly disproportion number of Guildhall Lodge members who bag the post and how this plays a role in the perpetration of gender inequality at the City of London council. It should also be remembered that common hall, the third tier of the council that has a say in electing the lord mayor is made up of unelected livery company members, which further adds to the democratic deficit created by minuscule ward electorates and the business vote. The City of London remains in urgent need of democratic reform and William Russell is clearly not the right person to see through the job. If Russell wasn’t a shameless opportunist he would resign before even taking up the post of lord mayor.
Header shows William Russell with his company director wife Hilary Russell. Image above shows Mrs Bernadette Ford, Mr Ken Ford and Mrs Hilary Russell at the South Cambridgeshire Conservatives 2013 Patrons Club Annual Dinner.
*As Maggie Smith noted in a comment on the post we’re citing: “Bowater House isn’t the only building named after a member of the over-privileged Bowater family in or very near to the City of London. On East Street just off Old Street and just outside the City there’s also Ian Bowater Court on the Haberdasher Estate – it has an N1 postcode but is just inside Hackney rather than being in Islington… Hopefully those buildings named after over-privileged and undeserving Bowater family members will have their names changed in due course. Social housing tenants shouldn’t have the names of reactionary Lord Mayors foisted upon the places where they live!”