Several years on and as we’ve said before we’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interest involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane – on the site that was formerly home to the Bernard Morgan House police accommodation – to be properly addressed by the City of London council. The issue has been reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere; it involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile the matter has just popped up yet again in the form of the blown City of London police budget. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that aside from their links to Taylor Wimpey, Hayward and Thomson should have perhaps also declared their role on the police committee as another potential conflict of interest before they voted in favour of giving planning permission to this constructor to build The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House. The price paid for the site would have been untenable had Taylor Wimpey’s contentious planning application not scraped through.Read more "The Denizen & The City of London Police Budget Again"
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"
Mark Field has long been known as the Invisible Man because of his unwillingness to engage with his constituents. When his majority was slashed in the 2017 general election he suddenly became slightly more visible and even vaguely interested in the issues that those who were entitled to vote for or against him wished to raise with ‘their’ MP. That said, after Field brutally assaulted Greenpeace activist Janet Barker last week and a video of the incident went viral, several media outlets still carried headlines that included the question “Who Is Mark Field?” However, the media don’t not know this MP the way his constituents don’t know him, because his aloofness and inaccessibility has long been a talking point among us. Until last week it seems Field had been largely operating beneath the radar of the press throughout his stint as an MP. That is apart from a headline grabbing 2005/6 love affair with fellow Tory MP Liz Truss (before she was elected to Parliament) and which ended with the first wife of this self-declared upholder of traditional values and civility divorcing him. The discrepancy between Field’s words and actions are neither failings nor quirks, they are embedded in the City of London culture of greed and entitlement that the MP is more effectively wedded to than any of his spouses.Read more "Mark Field & the City of London’s Culture of Misogyny & Entitlement"
Two City of London police officers face disciplinary action after the collapse of a fraud trial amid claims that expert witnesses, one of whom was not of “suitable calibre”, were coached. The City of London detectives investigated an alleged £3.5m cold-calling scam. In it eight men were accused of duping 72 people into making bad investments in carbon credits and diamonds. Andrew Ager gave evidence as an expert witness. But the case was thrown out after he admitted under cross-examination that he had never read a book on carbon credits. Now two unamed police officers will face an internal investigation. It follows the disclosure of emails that appear to show one detective constable, Stewart Walker, telling Ager what to write in a statement.Read more "City of London Police Accused Of Coaching Witnesses"
Earlier this month parts of the right-wing local and national press in the UK – Daily Mail, Times, City AM – covered Westminster’s criticism of the City of London banning a Taiwanese float from the Lord Mayor’s show. It goes without saying that these media outlets didn’t link the lack of democracy in the City – a local council elected on business votes rather than democratically controlled by local residents – and the authoritarian political system in China. Banning the Taiwanese float isn’t – as the right-wing media would have you believe – simply a matter of the City being greedy for Chinese money. The political system in the City of London is out of step with all other local authorities in the UK, but very much in step with authoritarian regimes around the world. Thus the City shares with China and others a desire to strangle local democracy anywhere it exists.Read more "Taiwan Banned From Neo-Liberal Lord Mayor’s Show As City of London & Chinese Authoritarianism Link Up"
So called ‘equality campaigner’ Edward Lord’s suggestion that women form their own City of London council masonic lodge is insulting since this would self-evidently exclude them from the power and privileges that accompany membership of the Guildhall Lodge. Drawing on both archival and freemasonic sources for our data, we have pointed out in various posts dating back to last year that since the men only Guildhall Lodge was founded in 1905, more than 50% of City of London lord mayors have belonged to it. Lord could not possibly have been unaware of this when they (Lord) made their defence of the use of council premises by men only masonic lodges and in doing this they (Lord) was clearly placing their masonry and City of London politics above any belief they (Lord) might have in sex equality. If Lord wants to be taken seriously as a politician who is passionate about diversity, they (Lord) should stop making excuses for sexism and patriarchy when it comes to freemasonry and start tackling the issue of men only lodges and their influence in the City of London by getting such institutions banned from local authority premises.Read more "Edward Lord & Sex Discrimination In The City of London"
“Democracy is not enough. We need to hold corporations to account,” says Billy Bragg. While democracy may or may not be enough, contra Bragg, in the City of London –where the Bank of England is located and Bragg is set to deliver a speech on accountability – democracy would make a huge difference not just to the residents of this rotten borough, but the entire world. It isn’t clear whether Bragg doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the 80% of City of London councillors are ‘elected’ on undemocratic business votes and that local residents have virtually no say in the running of the area. Bragg implies we already have democracy when we don’t. It’s also significant that the rotten borough Bragg’s being feted in is the power base from which the finance industry plots its course of state capture and tax havenry around the world. Establishing democracy in the City of London by – among other things – abolishing the business vote, would do much to curb the unchecked power of the wealthy elite’s financial lobby.Read more "Bank Of England & Billy Bragg, A Marriage Made In Heaven?"
We’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interests involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane to be properly addressed by the City of London council (as reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere); these involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile, this issue just keeps popping up in new guises. While it was heartening to see Bear step down as a councillor late last year (although we don’t know why he did so), the City’s awarding of contracts to Thomson’s Keepmoat continues to rankle Cripplegate residents, and Chris Hayward has strayed back into the probity spotlight for a variety of reasons.Read more "Chris Hayward Still Out To Lunch on Public Perceptions of Probity!"
The aldermanic election in Portsoken on 14 December 2014 provides a peek into the surreal nature of City politics. Despite three out of four candidates standing as independents, at least two of these ‘independents’ had binding party political affiliations. Labour have caused a bit of an upset in the City in recent years by successfully standing official candidates for election in three out of four ‘residential’ wards, Portsoken, Aldersgate and Cripplegate.Read more "Portsoken Election Demonstrates Urgent Need For City Reform"