In a recent blog we reported on how for hundreds of years those holding the top posts at the City of London council have been celebrating the slave trader John Cass whose memorials have been hastily removed from across east central and east London following Black Lives Matter protests. As we previously relayed, pages about the annual ‘Founder’s Day’ celebration of this slave trader have been deleted from the website of the foundation named after him. Although documentation of this year’s John Cass Founder’s Day debacle has not been preserved at the Internet Archive, at least some of what his foundation posted about this event prior to 2020 can be accessed there. These include a 2017 photo of City grandees at the event, with the current lord mayor William Russell prominent in his then role as sheriff, with everyone posing in front of a notorious set of seventeenth-century racist paintings by Robert Robinson. Since then we’ve found some more photos of William Russell at this event despite the Sir John Cass’s Foundation deleting pages from its website about this annual celebration of the slave trader.Read more "More Photos Of Lord Mayor Of London William Russell Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass"
We’ve written in the past about how City of London councillor and self-styled ‘diversity champion’ Edward Lord has a less than stellar record when it comes to the matters of inclusion and intersectionality. Therefore we weren’t surprised when we came across a two year-old tweet in which Lord boasted about attending the annual celebrations of slave trader John Cass. But John Cass isn’t the only transatlantic slave trade figure Lord seems to venerate. In a speech at the City of London council’s Guildhall HQ on 10 October 2019, Lord cited William Beckford Senior as a historically inspirational figure. Beckford was the richest man in the world in his time because of the huge number of slaves he owned. Lord apparently thinks this is a mere detail that can be glossed over.Read more "Self-Styled City Diversity ‘Champ’ Edward Lord Champions Slave Traders"
Given the longstanding involvement of City of London lord mayors and sheriffs in the celebration of slave trader John Cass under the guise of Founder’s Day, we do not think it is enough to replace the current holders of those offices with other people. Rather the archaic and undemocratic posts of lord mayor, sheriff and alderman should be abolished, alongside the undemocratic business vote system that is emblematic of the City of London being the last rotten borough in England. Cass himself was an alderman and sheriff and after several hundred years in which he has been celebrated by those who currently hold these same offices, it is high time the posts were scrapped.Read more "Lord Mayor of London William Russell Caught Red Handed Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass"
Reclaim EC1 took a trip to Jewery Street yesterday to check whether or not the statue of John Cass was still in place above the entrance to the foundation that bears his name. We were pleased to see the statue was gone. Somehow we are not surprised Sir John Cass’s Foundation did not announce the removal of the statue on or before 18 July 2020. The foundation has not been transparent about its history and has recently removed a number of its web pages. Likewise the foundation now enforces strict control over access to its paper archives, whereas until three years ago researchers could see these records without undergoing a screening and vetting process.Read more "Statue of Slave Trader & City Grandee John Cass Gone From Jewry Street"
This is a partial list of public memorials in the City of London which commemorate individuals with links to slavery, colonialism and racism. We’ve drawn up this far from exhaustive inventory in part because we are not convinced the Tackling Racism Working Party announced by the City of London council on 11 June 2020 will deal effectively with this aspect of its remit (or indeed any aspect of it). Our lack of confidence is based on the council’s past record and in particular the ongoing refusal of Edward Lord as chair of the Establishment Committee to seriously address glass ceiling issues at the council. In contrast, until we see what it does we will withhold judgement on the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm established by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on June 9, 2020 to review and access public tributes including statues and other landmarks. Both Khan’s Commission and the City’s Working Party ought to do much more than make recommendations on all the items listed beneath when it comes to dealing with the square mile. While it would be great to have all the memorials on our partial inventory removed or renamed, tackling other aspects of institutional racism and sexism is an even higher priority for us.Read more "List of Memorials In The City of London Linked To Slavery, Colonialism & Racism"
When discussing English slave trading the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company are key reference points and both have deep roots in the City of London. Many of the individuals implicated in the black holocaust through their involvement in these two slave trading entities also played key roles in local government in the City of London including as lord mayors, sheriffs and members of livery companies. Some of these slave traders are still memorialised in the City of London. Memorials tend to erase the complexities of history through simple celebration, which is why their removal from public spaces generally enhances historical understanding. That said, the undemocratic and still in many ways feudal local government machinery of the City of London is also in its contemporary form a product of the slave trade and it is more important that this is dismantled than that statues are removed and streets get renamed. It would, however, be ideal if both the governance of the City was democratically reformed and its problematic memorials removed.Read more "The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 1"
The failure to suspend construction work on the City of London’s COLPAI project during the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown has generated enormous anger among residents of this local authority’s Golden Lane Estate. This is hardly surprising given these residents found themselves stuck at home a few metres from non-essential but ongoing noisy building work. Critical blogs on the subject by local councillors Sue Pearson and Graeme Harrower have been avidly read. Some of the comments beneath them are heart wrenching, such as one written by the father of a sick child undergoing treatment for cancer. This entire family must remain in isolation due to the high risk the pandemic poses to its youngest child. while the mega-rich City of London council turns a deaf ear on their plight.Read more "COLPAI Construction Work, Lockdown & The Democratic Reform Of The City"
It was announced yesterday that William Russell’s term as Lord Mayor of the City of London will be doubled to provide ‘continuity’ and ‘civic leadership’ through the current pandemic. Civic is usually understood to mean relating to a city or municipality, whereas Russell’s Covid-19 statements are mostly about the global financial industry. Russell is the fifth member of his family to hold the top council job of Lord Mayor in just over 100 years, this nepotism will be compounded when he gets his second term. As we’ve already reported, the ‘election’ in which he gained office was rigged and the one that will allow him to remain in post will be too.Read more "City of London Shows Contempt For Its Residents & Democracy With Covid-19 ‘Civic Leadership’ Claims"
What the Lord Mayor of London does is front neo-liberal lobbying efforts to funnel the world’s wealth to a tiny super-rich elite, the fact that nearly all Lord Mayor’s are honoured for this isn’t the real issue, the post itself needs to be abolished alongside other rotten borough practices including business votes.Read more "Knighthood For Former Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin Is A Joke"
The fact that City of London is the last rotten borough in England has been demonstrated once again, this time by former lord mayor ‘Sir’ Andrew Parmley being the only candidate in the current aldermanic election for Vintry ward, which he will continue to represent. Given the miniscule electorate in this undemocratic business vote ward it is almost impossible for non-establishment figures to get nominated, let alone elected. Parmley, of course, is very much an establishment figure and in common with more than two thirds of lord mayor’s over the past 114 years belongs to the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons (founded in 1905). With its members massively over-represented in top jobs at the City of London council, this men only masonic lodge – number 3116 – is nonetheless allowed to meet for free on City of London premises despite the matter being a glass ceiling issue: only two women have ever held the post of lord mayor, which has long been monopolised by ‘fraternity’ 3116.Read more "Andrew Parmley’s Uncontested Re-Election & Other Affronts To Democracy In The City of London"