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"
In December 2019, the City Corporation backed down on the proposed expansion of its own City of London School for Girls, which would have harmed the amenity of its own residents and vandalised its own architectural heritage. A month later it has finally backed down in principle on trying to prevent its resident councillors from participating in decisions that affect their constituents, although it has done so in a muddled and unsatisfactory way. Both of these defeats for the Corporation have been achieved through strong resident action. The election of more resident councillors in March 2021 who are willing to represent their electors against the Corporation, rather than the other way round, should further contain the Corporation’s bias against residents. But if resident councillors remain only 20% of the total, instead of 100% as in any other local authority, that bias will remain. The business voting system isn’t democratic, literally: demos= the people, kratia = government. The ultimate solution is to abolish this system and to disaggregate the Corporation’s disparate and conflicting functions.Read more "Councillor Graeme Harrower On City of London Gagging Row"
A significant part of the financial City lies outside the City’s boundaries: banks and professional services firms in Canary Wharf, and fund managers in Mayfair. There are no business voters in these places, or in any other financial centre, like New York. No-one complains that the absence of business voters in these places affects business. So why are business voters needed within the City’s boundaries?Read more "Graeme Harrower’s City of London Corportation Xmas Quiz"
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"
Explaining how the Lord Mayor is elected, Livery Committee chair Nigel Pullman said there are three candidates voted for by by about 1,000 (unelected) liverymen. “It’s a strange system. Everyone knows before the vote who is going to win,” said Mr Pullman. “The winner’s name is read out first, and he is voted for by a show of hands. Then when the second candidate’s name is read, everyone shouts out ‘next time’. And when the third candidate’s name is read, they shout ‘later’.”Read more "‘Election’ of William Russell As Lord Mayor of London Totally Rigged"
“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"
Following our coverage earlier this year of the City of London website being off-line over and after the May bank holiday – and according to rumour due to a cyber attack – it’s interesting to see the business press today reporting the massive scale of such attacks on this rotten borough. Current coverage stresses this as a danger to residents while perhaps unconsciously implying links between our local authority’s peculiar and undemocratic role in international finance and an even greater criminal threat to locals than is found elsewhere in London and across the UK, by invoking attacks on the European Central Bank. While all councils are subject to cyber attacks, it seems that the City of London is a more inviting target because of its status as perhaps the richest neo-liberal lobbyist in the world. In the interest not just of democratic accountability but also of everyone’s safety – and especially that of residents – the City’s business vote system needs to be abolished and its neo-liberal lobbying stopped once and for all. The business vote system prevents local residents having a democratic say in how their local authority is run, and ensures instead that power lies in the hands of the finance and legal industries – who chose to run the council for the benefit of global corporations and the global super rich and against the interests of both the overwhelming majority of those who actually live in the City and billions worldwide.Read more "City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Raise Cyber Attack Risks For Residents"
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"
City residents will have recently had a copy of the June issue of City View: The Magazine of the City of London Corporation drop through their letterbox. The whole of page 3 is dedicated to the proposal/done deal to relocate three ‘historic’ markets to a new site in Dagenham. Funds are being raised for this move and other projects on the basis it is a done deal, while at the same time City residents and other stakeholders are told this ‘proposal’ is the City’s preferred option and they are being consulted about it. This, like all City consultations is a PR exercise in rubber-stamping a decision that has already been made.Read more "City of London ‘Consultations’ Are A Sham Designed To Rubber Stamp Decisions That Have Already Been Made"
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"