The City of London, Hong Kong & China

It comes as no surprise to find the City of London silently backing China as the latter cracks down on democracy in the former British colony. After all the City of London council is a grotesquely undemocratic institution. Therefore it’s good to see Graeme Harrower criticising the Corporation’s silence on this matter and suggesting the City should be welcoming to Hong Kongers and  asylum seekers. While we hope pro-democracy activists win their fight in Hong Kong, in case they suffer setbacks we should indeed be preparing to welcome them here.

Read more "The City of London, Hong Kong & China"

City of London Gagging Row Latest

“In the Dispensations Sub-Committee meeting on 4 June, a “co-opted” (meaning unelected) member rejected the notion that residential councillors should be trusted to exercise their judgment, because in future the “wrong sort of person might join the Corporation”. Since the only way a person can join the Corporation as a member is to be elected, the concern must be that City residents might in future elect the “wrong sort of person”. The residents are therefore being told that not only are they “confused” (as the Standards Chair called them in response to the petition), but that they must also be protected from the consequences of their voting decisions. The Standards Committee itself prefers to decide, through less than a handful of its own members, when resident councillors can speak and vote on matters which affect them and their constituents equally, but the answer – when it comes to voting, which is more important – is usually “no”. So decisions affecting residents may end up being taken by councillors who have no knowledge of the residents’ area. Most of those councillors are likely to represent business wards, so they may have no interest in residents’ concerns at all. The Standards Committee’s policy is therefore a barrier to democracy.”

Read more "City of London Gagging Row Latest"

Ian Luder, Freemasonry & The City of London Standards Committee

Aside from the business vote system, a major focus of the dissatisfaction of City of London residents with the undemocratic set up of their council has been its so-called Standards Committee. One concern has been the gagging of resident elected councillors by an inflexible dispensations policy, while the same committee is apparently unconcerned about potential conflicts of interest on the part of the 80% of councillors undemocratically elected on business votes and representing the interests of the finance and legal industries. Another big issue has been the willingness of the Standards Committee to allow various freemasonic lodges to meet for free or at discounted rates on council property. Given that as this blog has documented, members of the Guildhall Lodge are massively over-represented in top council posts – such as Lord Mayor – and so are men, these men only lodges should not be allowed to meet on council premises – let alone for free or at discounted rates. This is an equality issue.

Read more "Ian Luder, Freemasonry & The City of London Standards Committee"

Graeme Harrower & City of London Residents Turn Their Fire On The Business Vote System

Disquiet over how the City of London council is able to operate because it is 80% elected on the business votes of non-residents and thus requires no democratic mandate from local people on anything it does, continues to rise. As Graeme Harrower notes, this is not an issue that is going to go away, and in our view not until there is democratic reform of this local authority. The range of voices speaking out against the business vote system does demonstrate that this is a burning issue with regard to democracy and not a party political matter.

Read more "Graeme Harrower & City of London Residents Turn Their Fire On The Business Vote System"

City Of London Puts Itself First & Residents Last!

City of London councillors have criticised the Corporation for refurbishing the Mansion House while allowing tenants in social housing to suffer “freezing winters” in flats that they claim have fallen into disrepair. The official residence of the Lord Mayor is also used for hundreds of events each year including the annual Mansion House dinner. £1.45m has been earmarked for an external revamp that is due to be completed by 2020. At a meeting of the court of common council last week, Labour councillor William Pimlott said tenants were enduring “freezing winter months in cold flats” in Crescent House at Golden Lane, a 1950s housing estate in the ward of Cripplegate, which is to due to undergo repairs in 2021.

Read more "City Of London Puts Itself First & Residents Last!"

Susan Pearson Gagging Row Update

Catherine McGuinness and those around her who are engaged in a crusade against democracy have ensured that virtually nothing has changed in terms of the feudal power dynamics and secrecy at the City of London council. Potential conflict of interest issues as regards Sir Michael Bear, James Thomson and Chris Hayward aired in the national press still require satisfactory answers, as do many other related questions that local residents want addressed – such the hiring of councillor James Thomson’s Keepmoat company to do housing repairs and the discussions of the Standards Committee on the free and subsidised use of council premises by men only masonic lodges. While Graeme Harrower’s proposals were an improvement on the status quo, for us they did not go nearly far enough in terms reforming the City of London. That said, even Harrower’s attempt at tiny improvements was obviously way too much for the enemies of democracy who control the council. The democratic reform required to enable residents’ voices to be heard is the glaringly obvious one of abolishing the business vote!

Read more "Susan Pearson Gagging Row Update"