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"
More than a year ago we posted a blog entitled City of London ‘Consultations’ Are A Sham Designed To Rubber Stamp Decisions That Have Already Been Made. Our experience of City of London consultations has consistently been dispiriting and disappointing, something that will surprise no one who understands that this council is not just undemocratic but that it actively seeks to undermine democracy beyond its own local authority boundaries. Last week the City of London launched a consultation exercise on historic landmarks and the way it is framed and has been publicised indicates it will be as much of a sham as previous consultations.Read more "On The City Of London Historic Landmarks Consultation"
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"
The effort to remove memorials celebrating slave traders, racists and colonialists, is part of a broader struggle against institutional racism. This struggle can’t be confined to one geographical area such as the City of London. Even if the City didn’t border Islington and share the EC1 postcode with this neighbour, we would have been dismayed when within four days of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston being pulled down by activists in Bristol on 7 June, Islington council had managed to issue a hasty and disingenuous statement on the matter. The local press immediately reproduced the council’s absurd claims under the dubious headline “Islington ‘does not have any statues or memorials celebrating the slave trade’ “. Here we look at some problematic memorials in Islington, move back to the City, and then shine a spotlight on the racist British colonialist Sir John Alexander MacDonald who has memorials in St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and across Canada – where he was the first prime minister.Read more "Racist Memorials In The City of London, Islington & Beyond"
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"
The City Corporation could have joined the Mayor of London (Labour) and the local MP (Conservative) in calling on the Government to ban non-essential construction work, but has instead chosen to support such work by allowing it to continue on the Corporation’s own project, regardless of the harm this will do to residents in very close proximity. Unlike any other local authority, the City Corporation doesn’t need to worry about what its residents think, because only 20% of its councillors are elected in mainly residential wards; the other 80% are, uniquely, elected mainly by business voters, who typically have little interest in what their councillors do. This has for decades caused City residents to be poorly served by their council. When this crisis is over, that will finally need to be addressed. In the meantime, here on Golden Lane Estate most of the practical response to the crisis has come from volunteers in our own community, setting up a GLE Covid 19 HUB to support our neighbours in need. The City Corporation has played a very secondary role.Read more "City Of London’s Covid 19 Fail"
The idea that the City of London, the only place in the UK to maintain the utterly undemocratic business vote, wishes to ‘celebrate the positive impacts of… democracy’ is laughable. If this local authority wanted to celebrate democracy it would reform itself. Likewise, the City of London’s commitment to tolerance can be called into question on many counts, recently and quite notoriously because of the homophobic line of questioning a candidate for Lord Mayor was subjected to. The same goes for freedom. As for belief, there can be little doubt that the City believes in neo-liberal low regulation regimes that allow it and the network of tax havens it connects with to take wealth from those create it and divert it in the form of money to an undeserving corporate elite. None of this will prevent Premier PR from attempting to artwash the City of London as it promotes Believe! Faith, Freedom (and Football) and the culmination of Hannah Starkey’s deployment as Guildhall artist (AKA flunky) in residence, a series of portraits ‘celebrating City women’.Read more "Premier PR & City of London Artwashing"
Lord Mayors are chosen in private sessions that are conducted by Guildhall heavyweights. Some members of the Court of Common Council and the Court of Alderman believe the current process inhibits diverse candidates from being selected. In nearly 800 years there have been only two female Lord Mayors.Read more "City of London Nervous The Public Is Learning How Lord Mayors Like William Russell Are Elected"
It will have surprised no one that William Russell has been ‘elected’ Lord Mayor of London since the entire City of London electoral system is rigged. Russell’s rise to the top of the City of London council demonstrates how roles within this local authority are stitched up through a combination of a ridiculously small electorate, the undemocratic business vote system and an old boy network.Read more "William Russell Is The 5th Member Of The Bowater Family To Be Lord Mayor In Just Over 100 Years"
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"