At its most recent meeting, the City of London council passed a motion which welcomed Hong Kong residents pursuant to the British Government’s offer to them of extended resident rights in the UK, and criticised China’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. Will the Lord Mayor and Chair of Policy and Resources respect the will of the council by ceasing to deal with China in a way that avoids criticising it for human rights abuses? As part of that new approach, will they take the lead in reversing the decision to exclude Taiwan from the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was made on political grounds to appease the People’s Republic of China?Read more "The City of London Council Motion On Hong Kong"
The City of London council is proposing to postpone the election of its 100 common councillors from March 2021 to March 2022. What little democracy there is in the City shouldn’t be postponed by a year for no good reason. The bill that will be presented refers to a 14th century statute of Edward III as giving authority to postpone council elections, on the basis that doing so is “profitable to the King and to the citizens” and “agreeable … to reason and good faith”. There is real reason to doubt that this statute provides authority to postpone these elections but postponing them is in any case undemocratic and unreasonable.Read more "Graeme Harrower On Proposed Postponement Of City Elections"
In previous posts we’ve focussed on both lord mayor-in-waiting Vincent Keaveny and current lord mayor William Russell participating in the ‘Founder’s Day’ celebration of slave trader John Cass in 2019 and 2017 respectively. Here we will skim through some of the outstanding visual material we have about this annual event which for hundreds of years has been attended by those holding the top posts at the City of London council. However, first we will revisit a picture used in a previous post to put the spotlight on that other lord mayor-in-waiting Michael Mainelli, who we’ve written about more than once before. Here Mainelli is caught on camera on 27 February 2020 in his role of sheriff celebrating the slave trader John Cass on ‘Founder’s Day’.Read more "Michael Mainelli & Other City of London Councillors Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass"
Like many members of the City of London council, ‘alderman’ Vincent Keaveny clearly finds it politic to make the right noises about diversity but at the same time his actions not only speak louder than his words, they also tend to contradict them. For example, on 6 February 2019 in his then role as City of London aldermanic sheriff, Keaveny attended the annual Founder’s Day celebration of slave trader John Cass. By way of contrast, Keaveny also tweets reasonably frequently about diversity. He tweeted on 30 June this year about a Power of Inclusion webinar featuring lord mayor William Russell and stating: “Difficult questions already flagged up.” However the difficult questions didn’t seem to include why almost every City of London lord mayor and most sheriffs – including both Russell and Keaveny – have for hundreds of years attended the annual celebration of slave trader John Cass.Read more "Vincent Keaveny & The City Of London’s Instrumentalisation of ‘Diversity’"
David Graves, the alderman (a councillor) for Cripplegate Ward reached the end of his six year term of office on 17 June 2020. The archaic conventions that govern this archaic public office require that upon the expiry of the term of office of an alderman, he or she submits a “letter of surrender“ to the lord mayor. When asked, Alderman Graves explained he had not submitted his “letter of surrender“ because: “given the current CV-19 concerns and limitations, I decided that to trigger a 42 day electoral process now would be inappropriate and unsuitable for the good conduct of a fair election.” But his submitting a “letter of surrender“ would not have triggered the 42 day electoral process. The letter would first need to be “received” by the Court of Aldermen. The Covid crisis is one of the few situations imaginable in which the Court could justifiably defer the start of the electoral process – but for no longer than necessary. Should not the time at which the electoral process starts be a matter for the Court of Aldermen to decide, rather than the alderman whose term of office has expired and who seeks re-election?Read more "Cripplegate Councillor David Graves Unilaterally Extends His Own Term Of Office"
An unnamed spokesperson for the City Corporation was quoted as saying that “We are determined to ensure there are no barriers to any member of the community standing for the elected office of Lord Mayor”.The word “elected” was added before “office of Lord Mayor” presumably to “enhance” the impression of democracy, but there is nothing democratic about the Lord Mayor’s election. The Corporation’s website specifies that a candidate for Lord Mayor should “have a significant track record and be recognised as a leader in their field” (typically in the financial City) and “have an extensive network”. Here’s a translation into truth of the sentence in the press release, with added words: “We are determined to ensure there are no barriers except status and connections to any member of the community standing for the undemocratically elected office of Lord Mayor.” The press release proves the equation that PR + HR = nonsense. It also proves that adapting a feudal system of local government to the modern world is impossible. It’s time for the Corporation to be disaggregated.Read more "Graeme Harrower On The City Tinkering With The Rigged ‘Election’ Process To Become Lord Mayor of London"
Hiscox insurance boss Bronek Masojada was elected to the post of Billingsgate alderman with a grand total of 52 votes on 31 January 2019, after controversial hard-right City of London councillor Matthew Richardson stood down. 108 votes were split between five nominally independent candidates; a sixth candidate, Social Democratic Party representative Jonathan Bergdahl, got no votes. Since Billingsgate ward has three councillors to represent an electorate of just a couple of hundred business voters, 108 votes represents a respectable 46% turn out. Influence is easily wielded when there is such a ridiculous small electorate and this is something that raises suspicions that the entire City of London council is not only completely undemocratic, but possibly also deeply corrupt.Read more "Bronek Masojada Elected As Billingsgate Alderman With Fewer Votes Than He’s Had Birthdays!"
Following the Occupy London protests in 2012, the Corporation released information about “City’s Cash”—the “sovereign wealth fund” stemming from the 15th century. Over 52 percent of its reserve in that year came from investments, with 29 percent from school fees, 8 percent from rent, and 9 percent from grants, contributions and reimbursements. By 2016 its assets stood at £2.3 billion, generating £210 million yearly. The 2018-23 Corporate Plan cynically insists “everything we do contributes toward the achievement of twelve outcomes.” Those listed include: “People have equal opportunities to enrich their lives and reach their full potential” and to “Help provide homes that London and Londoner’s need.” The City of London actually devotes its main energies to furthering the inequality that produces untold misery and hardship.Read more "The City of London, House Building Targets & Business Votes"
The Corporation of London has rarely come under serious scrutiny since 1960 when a royal commission on local government in Greater London considered in great detail whether the ancient body could and should continue as a separate local authority. Sadly, its conclusion was feeble: “If we were to be strictly logical we should recommend the amalgamation of the City and Westminster. But logic has its limits and the position of the City lies outside them.”Read more "The Last Rotten Borough Revisited"
The way in which men only freemasonic groups impact upon diversity within the City of London Corporation is disturbing. To date there have been 688 Lord Mayors who were men and 2 who were women. Since the founding of the Guildhall Lodge in 1905, 78 Lord Mayors of London have belonged to this men only freemasonic group. So over the past 113 years at least 69.03% of Lord Mayors of London have been masons, whereas 1.77% have been women. Although well under 1% of the English population are masons, members of the brotherhood have a better chance of becoming Lord Mayor of London than non-masons; and women who aren’t allowed to join influential all male lodges are largely excluded from such leadership roles.Read more "Diversity & Freemasonry At The City of London Council"