Sketches of senior City of London councillors (aldermen) who were directors of the slave trading Royal Africa Company in the seventeenth-century, alongside remarks on various contemporary organisations responsible for memorials and other references to them that require actions such as removal of object, renaming or a more rigorous historical framing. The contemporary organisations addressed include the National Portrait Gallery, Art UK, Milton Keynes Arts Centre, Royal Collection Trust, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London Corporation, John Moore Foundation, Museum of the Home, Ironmongers’ Company and Sir Robert Geffery’s Trust.Read more "The City Of London & The Slave Trade Part 3"
While we and others were less than impressed that the Rogers Report failed to properly confront the issue of the business vote, it was curious to see the Daily Telegraph yesterday using this source to take a very different angle on the matter of a lack of democracy in the City of London. We assume the idea of forcing firms to participate in the business vote charade is being floated in the right-wing press to gauge reaction and determine if anyone wants to be conned into believing this will make a failed electoral system somehow more ‘democratic’. What would actually make the City of London democratic is the abolition of the business vote, so that residents have a proper say on local matters that impact them. That said, forced participation in undemocratic City elections is in no way guaranteed to favour the current establishment and has the potential to replace the status quo with something slightly different – although whether this would be mildly better or somewhat worse than today’s McGuinness/Russell axis is a moot point. What is clear is that it wouldn’t be democratic.Read more "Right-wing media float idea of forced participation in City of London’s broken election system"
When we began our look at the huge overlap between the slave trading Royal Africa Company and the City of London council we quoted Historic England on this entanglement. We chose this particular source because it emphasised that the Guildhall (the City of London council offices) was a centre of the slave trade. That said we could see that the numbers used were drawn from the book The Royal African Company by K. G. Davies (Longmans Green, 1957), since on pages 68/69 Davies states: “Fifteen of the Lord Mayors of London, between the Restoration and the Revolution, and twenty-five of the Sheriffs were shareholders in the company, as were thirty-eight of the men elected or appointed aldermen between 1672 and 1690.” Historic England use the same figures and time frame in what we quoted from them. It’s important to understand that these numbers do not cover the overlaps between the City of London council and the Royal Africa Society during the entire history of this slave trading operation, just its earlier phase.Read more "The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 2"
The Lord Mayor of London William Russell is yet again making a tyrannical regime look respectable and feel comfortable. Perhaps Russell will foster close relations with Kazakhstan by advising it on things that the council he heads does but the regime doesn’t yet. For example how to: postpone elections instead of holding them, thus avoiding bad publicity for the elections being undemocratic; use medieval laws to give a veneer of legality to whatever the regime wants to do; introduce a business voting system to ensure that the electorate is tiny and disengaged, and that the system attracts mainly members who enjoy the privileges of office and support whatever the leadership does.Read more "Graeme Harrower On Council Governance & William Russell Wooing Kazakhstan’s Authoritarian Regime"
The current chairman of the City of London council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also (then) on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear (now retired) – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor Wimpey.Read more "James Thomson, The City of London Police And The Rogers Report"
Last Friday the City of London council announced a new ‘collaborative’ initiative called the Culture and Commerce Taskforce that united the city with itself and itself; or as it’s PR department cum lie machine absurdly claimed it is a collaboration between the ‘Lord Mayor, the City of London Corporation and Culture Mile’. These are essentially all the same thing since the Lord Mayor is head of the City Corporation or council and the Culture Mile is an initiative on the part of this same council and various ‘other’ organisations it finances and controls. As we’ve shown in the past with regard to the Culture Mile, the City is rather fond of creating fronts and then having them unite in partnership with each other, creating yet another cat’s paw. Such structures are not so different to the multiple shell companies that the financial industry conjures up to obfuscate money flows and avoid financial transparency.Read more "City of London Culture And Commerce Taskforce Set Up To Strangle Artistic Autonomy"
Lord Lisvane uses his unbelievably uncritical report on governance at the City of London council to tout for further business by offering to redraft the Court’s standing orders (para 147) and providing future assistance (para 551). But the message sent through the response of many councillors – who mostly don’t like his suggestions of very mild reforms – is “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Imagine the stink if Lisvane had suggested abolishing the undemocratic business vote! A freedom of Information request has revealed that his report cost the Corporation £15,000. No wonder he’d welcome some more work!Read more "Graeme Harrower On The Rogers Report And Postponed Local Elections"
Despite it being well-established that the lord mayor only holds office for a a year, the City of London council does what suits it and William Russell is all set for an extended two-year term. This would seem to have more to do with the public exposure of homophobia within the court of aldermen being directed against Tim Hailes – who had been set to become the City’s first openly gay lord mayor this year – than the Covid-19 pandemic which has been used to justify Russell’s double term. Russell staying on is less likely to generate press comment on the endless reactionary political manoeuvring at our council than someone other than Hailes taking up the post this year. Ultimately the predominantly cis white wealthy male court of alderman does not provide a suitable pool of talent for the high profile public office of Lord Mayor of London.Read more "Rescind Extended Terms For Lord Mayor William Russell And The City Sheriffs!"
The pretence that the Culture Mile is a collaborative project between the City of London council and what it presents as ‘independent’ organisations is patently absurd. As the Rogers Report shows, the organisations the Corporation claims to be collaborating with are actually extensions of the council and controlled by the council. The Culture Mile, as we’ve previously pointed out is a cynical exercise in marginalisation and social exclusion. We have also made it clear that the Centre for Music is unwanted and the project should be scrapped. Rogers calls the Centre for Music ‘speculative’ but plenty of money has already been wasted on it and an architectural practice has been engaged to draw up building plans. However, we don’t just want to see plans for a Centre for Music scrapped, the entire Culture Mile project should be knocked on the head since it runs counter to the interests of many residents both in the City of London itself and in the neighbouring Islington wards such as Bunhill.Read more "Barbican Centre, Culture Mile And The Rogers Report"
Abolition would actually be the best way to deal with the City of London, but even if that does not happen the business vote must be abolished and the number of councillors reduced in line with councillor-resident ratios in the rest of London. Around two councillors, down from 125 (100 common councillors plus 25 aldermen), would make things proportionate – although two councillors does not really justify the existence of a City of London council. On the basis of the figures Rogers reproduces in his report it is clear that City of London councillors need only a handful of votes to get elected and even Rogers admits the system can be easily manipulated by small cliques. This isn’t democracy, it is a sham and the reason why the City of London has quite rightly acquired the nickname the last rotten borough.Read more "Rogers Report On City Governance Says Our Council is ‘Sclerotic’, We’d Call It Toxic"