James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence

A news splash on the City of London council website yesterday announced that James Thomson has been elected as chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board. While this will surprise few who follow City of London politics – since Thomson has been on the board for the past five years and has occupied the post of deputy chairman for the past three – it will nevertheless further undermine public confidence in the City of London Police because of a series of controversies that continue to swirl around this councillor.

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Vincent Keaveny & The City Of London’s Instrumentalisation of ‘Diversity’

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.

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Cripplegate Councillor David Graves Unilaterally Extends His Own Term Of Office

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?

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Lord Mayor of London William Russell Caught Red Handed Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass

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.

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Barbican Arts Centre Grandee & PR Guru Emma Kane ‘Excited’ To Be Associated With Slave Traders & Paedophiles

Emma Kane is currently chair of Barbican Centre Trust and a member of the Barbican Centre Board. Needless to say, she is not the only member of the Barbican Arts Centre Board to have done or said things that undermine the diversity and inclusion policies that such organisations ought to – but all too often don’t – follow. As this blog reported back in 2018 the ‘chairman of the Barbican in London (Giles Shilson) has apologised after comparing the Welsh language to being dyslexic.’ Many were appalled both by Shilson’s racism and his ableism but it seems to have no impact on his standing at the Barbican; he is currently deputy chair of the Barbican Centre Board to Tom Sleigh’s chair – but such positions are swapped around among the elite as a matter of course in the City of London.

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COLPAI Construction Work, Lockdown & The Democratic Reform Of The City

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.

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Abolish The Business Vote & Solve City Election ‘Conundrum’ At A Stroke!

The Covid 19 lockdown is causing a variety of elections to be held up and My London News reports this has caused a conundrum for the City of London, since its delayed common council elections may clash with the put back Greater London Assembly elections. As might be surmised from the My London News piece, 80% of City of London councillors are elected on undemocratic business votes given to bankers and lawyers who work in the City but who don’t actually live here. This feudal voting system is crying out for reform and if business votes were abolished there would be no need for City of London elections that clash with GLA elections – because City resident voters only exist in sufficient number to make up a small ward within another local authority. There is only an election conundrum now because of the out-dated political system in the City; modernise by incorporating the square mile into a neighbouring local authority (or two or more)  and the difficulty no longer arises!

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The Corporation Giving £30 Million From City’s Cash To The NHS Is The Best Way To Honour Captain Tom Moore

Our local council has decided to ‘honour’ Captain Tom Moore with a Freedom of the City of London ‘award’. The Freedom is hardly an ‘honour’ given that paedophiles like Hubert Chesshyre and Keith Harding have also received this ‘award’, not to mention disgraced politicians like Ian Paisley Junior. In the long run the best way to fund the NHS is through ending the tax breaks and tax avoidance schemes for corporations and the wealthy which the City of London council lobbies for under the guise of neo-liberal ‘light regulation’. In the short term if the Corporation really wants to pay tribute to Captain Tom Moore then it should match his charity raising feat and donate £30 million to the NHS from its sovereign wealth fund City’s Cash. It could easily afford to do this. Instead the City prefers cheap publicity from doling out its dubious ‘honours’.

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Another City of London Policing Fail

Sadly we weren’t surprised by to see a Which? report earlier this month about an IT glitch at City of London Police that stalled the processing of more than 300,000 crime reports. For as long as the Court of Common Council acts as the police authority for this force there is no proper democratic oversight of the City of London police, and this also undermines public confidence in its officers. While the Court of Common Council is elected this is mostly on undemocratic business votes, rather than by residents, something very different to how police and crime commissioners are chosen elsewhere in the UK. As we’ve said before, the current deputy chairman of the council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor Wimpey

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Graeme Harrower On The City Tinkering With The Rigged ‘Election’ Process To Become Lord Mayor of London

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.

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