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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Cripplegate Councillor David Graves Unilaterally Extends His Own Term Of Office

David Graves, the alderman (a councillor) for Cripplegate Ward reached the end of his six year term of office on 17 June 2020. The archaic conventions that govern this archaic public office require that upon the expiry of the term of office of an alderman, he or she submits a “letter of surrender“ to the lord mayor. When asked, Alderman Graves explained he had not submitted his “letter of surrender“ because: “given the current CV-19 concerns and limitations, I decided that to trigger a 42 day electoral process now would be inappropriate and unsuitable for the good conduct of a fair election.” But his submitting a “letter of surrender“ would not have triggered the 42 day electoral process. The letter would first need to be “received” by the Court of Aldermen. The Covid crisis is one of the few situations imaginable in which the Court could justifiably defer the start of the electoral process – but for no longer than necessary. Should not the time at which the electoral process starts be a matter for the Court of Aldermen to decide, rather than the alderman whose term of office has expired and who seeks re-election?

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Abolish The Business Vote & Solve City Election ‘Conundrum’ At A Stroke!

The Covid 19 lockdown is causing a variety of elections to be held up and My London News reports this has caused a conundrum for the City of London, since its delayed common council elections may clash with the put back Greater London Assembly elections. As might be surmised from the My London News piece, 80% of City of London councillors are elected on undemocratic business votes given to bankers and lawyers who work in the City but who don’t actually live here. This feudal voting system is crying out for reform and if business votes were abolished there would be no need for City of London elections that clash with GLA elections – because City resident voters only exist in sufficient number to make up a small ward within another local authority. There is only an election conundrum now because of the out-dated political system in the City; modernise by incorporating the square mile into a neighbouring local authority (or two or more)  and the difficulty no longer arises!

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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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More Uncontested City of London Council Seat Sham ‘Wins’: This Time For Peter Estlin, Jane Gowman & Vincent Keaveny

With a residential electorate barely large enough to make up a small ward on any normal London council, the City of London attempts to bridge the gap by providing undemocratic business votes to non-residents. By any reckoning there is no need to divide this local authority into 25 wards with 125 councillors. Two councillors ought be plenty to cover the residential population, while wards with virtually no residents and only a few hundred business voters are ripe targets for anyone interested in election rigging – if they are able to get nominated. Without connections to the legal and finance industries it is difficult to get nominated in many City wards, and so alarmingly often there are uncontested ‘elections’. Anyone with views at odds with the finance industry is unlikely to find 5 people on the register of voters in business vote dominated wards who would nominate them.

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Aldersgate Election of Helen Fentimen An Utter Farce

It bears repeating that every election in the City of London is an utter farce, since the electorate is so small the entire process could very easily be rigged. Yesterday (13 November 2019) Helen Fentimen won an Aldersgate election to the common council for Labour – the only party standing, the rest were ‘independents’ – with a miniscule 260 votes. Given both business votes and that top ‘elected’ posts at the council are disproportionately bagged by members of the men-only Guildhall Lodge 3116, the undersized electorate isn’t the only reason democratic reform is urgently required in this rotten borough.

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William Russell & Livery Companies

As we’ve detailed already, the election of William Russell as lord mayor of London is an affront to democracy since the vote was decided in advance of unelected livery company members raising their hands to give him the job. As we’ve also previously mentioned, Russell is the fifth member of his family to be lord mayor of London in just over a century, indicating the kind of nepotism at work in the City of London’s anti-democratic set-up. What we haven’t addressed before – and the day before Russell is officially installed as lord mayor seems a good time to bring it up – is that he actually sits on the City of London Livery Committee that organised his own election!

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Andrew Parmley’s Uncontested Re-Election & Other Affronts To Democracy In The City of London

The fact that City of London is the last rotten borough in England has been demonstrated once again, this time by former lord mayor ‘Sir’ Andrew Parmley being the only candidate in the current aldermanic election for Vintry ward, which he will continue to represent. Given the miniscule electorate in this undemocratic business vote ward it is almost impossible for non-establishment figures to get nominated, let alone elected. Parmley, of course, is very much an establishment figure and in common with more than two thirds of lord mayor’s over the past 114 years belongs to the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons (founded in 1905). With its members massively over-represented in top jobs at the City of London council, this men only masonic lodge – number 3116 – is nonetheless allowed to meet for free on City of London premises despite the matter being a glass ceiling issue: only two women have ever held the post of lord mayor, which has long been monopolised by ‘fraternity’ 3116.

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Mark Field & the City of London’s Culture of Misogyny & Entitlement

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.

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More Sham Elections In the City of London

All four candidates in the farcical Cordwainter and Bassishaw by-elections are ‘independents’ but nonetheless support the right-wing neo-liberal agenda of the City of London. It is very hard for anyone who doesn’t hold such views to get nominated by the handful of business voters in these tiny City of London wards. These elections will be no fairer or freer than those held in North Korea and demonstrate yet again the urgent need to democratically reform the City of London.

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