Sketches of senior City of London councillors (aldermen) who were directors of the slave trading Royal Africa Company in the seventeenth-century, alongside remarks on various contemporary organisations responsible for memorials and other references to them that require actions such as removal of object, renaming or a more rigorous historical framing. The contemporary organisations addressed include the National Portrait Gallery, Art UK, Milton Keynes Arts Centre, Royal Collection Trust, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London Corporation, John Moore Foundation, Museum of the Home, Ironmongers’ Company and Sir Robert Geffery’s Trust.Read more "The City Of London & The Slave Trade Part 3"
While we and others were less than impressed that the Rogers Report failed to properly confront the issue of the business vote, it was curious to see the Daily Telegraph yesterday using this source to take a very different angle on the matter of a lack of democracy in the City of London. We assume the idea of forcing firms to participate in the business vote charade is being floated in the right-wing press to gauge reaction and determine if anyone wants to be conned into believing this will make a failed electoral system somehow more ‘democratic’. What would actually make the City of London democratic is the abolition of the business vote, so that residents have a proper say on local matters that impact them. That said, forced participation in undemocratic City elections is in no way guaranteed to favour the current establishment and has the potential to replace the status quo with something slightly different – although whether this would be mildly better or somewhat worse than today’s McGuinness/Russell axis is a moot point. What is clear is that it wouldn’t be democratic.Read more "Right-wing media float idea of forced participation in City of London’s broken election system"
When we began our look at the huge overlap between the slave trading Royal Africa Company and the City of London council we quoted Historic England on this entanglement. We chose this particular source because it emphasised that the Guildhall (the City of London council offices) was a centre of the slave trade. That said we could see that the numbers used were drawn from the book The Royal African Company by K. G. Davies (Longmans Green, 1957), since on pages 68/69 Davies states: “Fifteen of the Lord Mayors of London, between the Restoration and the Revolution, and twenty-five of the Sheriffs were shareholders in the company, as were thirty-eight of the men elected or appointed aldermen between 1672 and 1690.” Historic England use the same figures and time frame in what we quoted from them. It’s important to understand that these numbers do not cover the overlaps between the City of London council and the Royal Africa Society during the entire history of this slave trading operation, just its earlier phase.Read more "The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 2"
The Lord Mayor of London William Russell is yet again making a tyrannical regime look respectable and feel comfortable. Perhaps Russell will foster close relations with Kazakhstan by advising it on things that the council he heads does but the regime doesn’t yet. For example how to: postpone elections instead of holding them, thus avoiding bad publicity for the elections being undemocratic; use medieval laws to give a veneer of legality to whatever the regime wants to do; introduce a business voting system to ensure that the electorate is tiny and disengaged, and that the system attracts mainly members who enjoy the privileges of office and support whatever the leadership does.Read more "Graeme Harrower On Council Governance & William Russell Wooing Kazakhstan’s Authoritarian Regime"
Last Friday the City of London council announced a new ‘collaborative’ initiative called the Culture and Commerce Taskforce that united the city with itself and itself; or as it’s PR department cum lie machine absurdly claimed it is a collaboration between the ‘Lord Mayor, the City of London Corporation and Culture Mile’. These are essentially all the same thing since the Lord Mayor is head of the City Corporation or council and the Culture Mile is an initiative on the part of this same council and various ‘other’ organisations it finances and controls. As we’ve shown in the past with regard to the Culture Mile, the City is rather fond of creating fronts and then having them unite in partnership with each other, creating yet another cat’s paw. Such structures are not so different to the multiple shell companies that the financial industry conjures up to obfuscate money flows and avoid financial transparency.Read more "City of London Culture And Commerce Taskforce Set Up To Strangle Artistic Autonomy"
The pretence that the Culture Mile is a collaborative project between the City of London council and what it presents as ‘independent’ organisations is patently absurd. As the Rogers Report shows, the organisations the Corporation claims to be collaborating with are actually extensions of the council and controlled by the council. The Culture Mile, as we’ve previously pointed out is a cynical exercise in marginalisation and social exclusion. We have also made it clear that the Centre for Music is unwanted and the project should be scrapped. Rogers calls the Centre for Music ‘speculative’ but plenty of money has already been wasted on it and an architectural practice has been engaged to draw up building plans. However, we don’t just want to see plans for a Centre for Music scrapped, the entire Culture Mile project should be knocked on the head since it runs counter to the interests of many residents both in the City of London itself and in the neighbouring Islington wards such as Bunhill.Read more "Barbican Centre, Culture Mile And The Rogers Report"
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"
In a tweet about BLM protestors in Bristol (UK) taking a statue of slave trader Edward Colston from its plinth and throwing it in a river, influential City of London councillor Tim Hailes bleats: “Violence is not the answer.” In such a context violence would more usually be used describe behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone, or some other living thing. But as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, Hailes wishes to conflate attacks on property – in this case a statue – with attacks on people, hence his rhetorical use of the term violence. It says a lot about Hailes’s biases that he would deploy violence in this way but apparently not to describe the murder of millions in the black holocaust of the transatlantic slave trade.Read more "Tim Hailes And Unconscious Bias At The City of London Council"
At its most recent meeting, the City of London council passed a motion which welcomed Hong Kong residents pursuant to the British Government’s offer to them of extended resident rights in the UK, and criticised China’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. Will the Lord Mayor and Chair of Policy and Resources respect the will of the council by ceasing to deal with China in a way that avoids criticising it for human rights abuses? As part of that new approach, will they take the lead in reversing the decision to exclude Taiwan from the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was made on political grounds to appease the People’s Republic of China?Read more "The City of London Council Motion On Hong Kong"
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"