On The City Of London Historic Landmarks Consultation

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.

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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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The City of London, Hong Kong & China

It comes as no surprise to find the City of London silently backing China as the latter cracks down on democracy in the former British colony. After all the City of London council is a grotesquely undemocratic institution. Therefore it’s good to see Graeme Harrower criticising the Corporation’s silence on this matter and suggesting the City should be welcoming to Hong Kongers and  asylum seekers. While we hope pro-democracy activists win their fight in Hong Kong, in case they suffer setbacks we should indeed be preparing to welcome them here.

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Premier PR & City of London Artwashing

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’.

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Councillor Graeme Harrower On City of London Gagging Row

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.

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Graeme Harrower’s City of London Corportation Xmas Quiz

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?

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Paedophiles Like Hubert Chesshyre Remain City of London Freemen Despite Corporation’s ‘Vetting’ Stunt

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.

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‘Election’ of William Russell As Lord Mayor of London Totally Rigged

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’.”

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City of London Gagging Row Latest

“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.”

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City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Raise Cyber Attack Risks For Residents

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.

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