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.
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"
Those familiar with the City of London council will not be surprised by the news that after landing a huge grant from the Mayor of London’s housing investment scheme, it has quietly dropped its plan to build 3700 new council homes by 2025. Likewise it would be silly to take at all seriously the claim: “The corporation said its budget for building new homes had come under pressure…” The modest size of this ‘pressured’ budget is a political decision; the Corporation could cease spending the millions in interest generated by its City’s Cash sovereign wealth fund on lobbying for neo-liberal economic policies and instead use the money for house building. However this is unlikely to happen until there is democratic reform of the local authority and the council chamber ceases to be controlled by undemocratic business votes.Read more "City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Puts Londoners’ Housing Needs Last"
If City of London councillor Matthew Richardson’s mysterious Christ Freedom Trust entry on his register of interests is a misrendering of True Freedom Trust, then this may deepen our understanding of the ideological motivations behind his 2010 transphobic speech as reported by UK media, as well as his friendship and apparent flat sharing with fellow City councillor and LGBT activist Edward Lord. That said we’re not currently in a position to know one way or another what Richardson’s Christ Freedom Trust entry on his non-pecuniary interests actually represents.Read more "Matthew Richardson’s Register of Interests"
Until the City of London is democratically reformed with the abolition of business votes and a reduction in the number of its councillors to a level commensurate with its residential electorate, its political system will provide an attractive target for those inclined to manipulate voting systems and seeking an easy route to power and influence. We will continue to keep an eye on upcoming City of London elections. Later this year Matthew Richardson is scheduled to step down as Billingsgate alderman. An election in that ward might well be of wider interest than the alderman contests we’ve reported in recent posts.Read more "Sue Langley, Aldermen & The City of London’s Rotten Political System"
Aside from his insistence that women should be excluded from all male institutions such as the Guildhall Lodge, Edward Lord – who plays a lead role in the council’s diversity initiatives – shared a flat with his fellow freemason and City of London councillor Matthew Richardson around the time the latter made a transphobic speech in the USA: “Matthew Richardson, Ukip’s party secretary and a close ally of Nigel Farage, branded trans women undergoing surgery ‘she-males’ and said the NHS should not help people who needed gender reassignment surgery. He blamed ‘socialists’ who he said supported people whose gender needed to be reassigned. ‘Socialists think that if somebody wants to reassign their gender the state should pay, they think that’s how the world works,’ he told an audience of several right-wing groups in the United States. ‘So if you love she-males come to the United Kingdom, if you love freedom – stay here [the United States].’ ”Read more "Matthew Richardson, Diversity, Gender Identity & Freemasonry in the City of London"