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"
As we noted back in September this year despite at one point voting to strip apologist for genocide Aung San Suu Kyi of her Freedom of the City of London, the council failed to do so and in a U-turn merely suspended it. Given that the City of London hands out these awards in a manner analogous to sweets being passed around at a children’s party, the fact that their vetting process only identified 5 unsuitable candidates in 4 years is hardly reassuring. Equally disturbing is the fact that in order to stand for council seats at this local authority, prospective candidates must first be awarded the Freedom of the City of London – alongside business votes and other scams, ‘vetting’ for this ‘award’ might thus function as another way for this feudal local authority to continue to block and frustrate democracy within its boundaries. Likewise, Julia Gregory’s claim that this so-called ‘honour’ is coveted is a moot point – we’d certainly consider it a dishonour to be given an award already handed out to the likes of the freeloading and utterly reactionary politician Ian Paisley Junior or the paedophiles Keith Harding and Hubert Chesshyre.Read more "Paedophiles Like Hubert Chesshyre Remain City of London Freemen Despite Corporation’s ‘Vetting’ Stunt"
“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"
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"
If the City of London and its spokespeople wished to be taken seriously by those it fails to serve and in particular the many Cripplegate ward residents who signed the petition calling for reform of its Standards Committee, then they would have addressed the issues that led to this blog being started – potential conflicts of interest – instead of brushing them off. In the same manner and with the same disdain, this utterly undemocratic local authority brushes off the gagging of councillors who attempt to represent the views of local people as ‘justified’ by rules that apparently don’t apply to the majority in its chambers who speak on behalf of the finance and legal industries.Read more "City of London Gives Its Residents The Finger In Ongoing Gagging Row"
City of London councillor Tom Hoffman’s desire to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers is deeply problematic. Here we will focus only on local colonial issues, although obviously the global aspects of this colonialism should be borne in mind too. Those onboard the Mayflower were English Protestants known at the time as Puritans because they sought to ‘purify’ their religious practices of Roman Catholic influences and maintained that the Church of England had not been fully reformed. The City has longstanding connections to both Protestantism in its Puritan forms and the colonial atrocities associated with this. Much of modern racism was invented and elaborated by hack writers from the Grub Street area on the edge of the City, and it was they who first depicted Irish Catholics as apes, a racist slur subsequently transferred to Africans. This is what Hoffman is celebrating.Read more "Tom Hoffman Seeks Artwashers-In-Residence For City of London Council"
Local residents’ anger with the City of London council is very evident in the latest issue of the fortnightly free sheet City Matters, a publication which also provides the head of this local authority with a regular column. It’s non-council columnists are usually anodyne but not in this issue! Billy Mann socks it to the City of London Corporation with the following words: “If anything can take the shine off neighbourly bliss it is the clumsiness of the council. A number of residents met recently with housing chief Paul Murtagh, who arrived in a foul mood…”Read more "Ongoing Exasperation With The City of London Council"
Given the glass ceiling on top jobs in the City of London and this local authority’s notorious lie machine, it is not surprising to find the utterly undemocratic and business vote dominated local council awardwashing the situation by picking 100 women to receive the Freedom of the City as a way of ‘marking’ the centenary of women getting the vote. More of an eye-opener is the fact that diversity campaigner Miranda Brawn has chosen accept this bauble despite the council failing dismally to tackle gender discrimination on its own patch.Read more "Miranda Brawn & City of London Awardwashing"
A vote to remove Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freedom of the City of London was passed yesterday in the Court of Common Council, this body will now write to the Myanmar leader and await her reply before deciding whether to proceed. It doesn’t look like Ian Paisley Jr, paedophile Keith Harding or other unsavory characters will have their Freedom of the City of London removed any time soon, since even Suu Kyi is hanging on to hers for now. Press coverage today in City A.M., The Evening Standard and City Matters made it clear that those opposing the move to strip Suu Kyi of this ‘honour’ included top freemasons Jamie Ingham Clark and Chris Hayward.Read more "City of London Vote On Aung San Suu Kyi"
Why David Wootton thinks ‘it is not the time or circumstance to begin the process to remove the honorary freedom’ awarded to Aung San Suu Ky is something we believe he should explain at length. That said his position clearly has more to do with the neo-liberal politics of the City of London and its jockeying for the interests of the rich at the expense of ordinary people around the world, than the wishes of the local people he and the majority of his fellow councillors so blatantly fail to represent.Read more "David Wootton, Aung San Suu Kyi & Freedom of the City of London"