Michael Mainelli & Other City of London Councillors Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass

In previous posts we’ve focussed on both lord mayor-in-waiting Vincent Keaveny and current lord mayor William Russell participating in the ‘Founder’s Day’ celebration of slave trader John Cass in 2019 and 2017 respectively. Here we will skim through some of the outstanding visual material we have about this annual event which for hundreds of years has been attended by those holding the top posts at the City of London council. However, first we will revisit a picture used in a previous post to put the spotlight on that other lord mayor-in-waiting Michael Mainelli, who we’ve written about more than once before. Here Mainelli is caught on camera on 27 February 2020 in his role of sheriff celebrating the slave trader John Cass on ‘Founder’s Day’.

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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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Lord Mayor of London William Russell Caught Red Handed Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass

Given the longstanding involvement of City of London lord mayors and sheriffs in the celebration of slave trader John Cass under the guise of Founder’s Day, we do not think it is enough to replace the current holders of those offices with other people. Rather the archaic and undemocratic posts of lord mayor, sheriff and alderman should be abolished, alongside the undemocratic business vote system that is emblematic of the City of London being the last rotten borough in England. Cass himself was an alderman and sheriff and after several hundred years in which he has been celebrated by those who currently hold these same offices, it is high time the posts were scrapped.

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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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Culture Mile Is Now Artwashing Animal Cruelty Alongside Colonial & Neo-Colonial Crimes

The statues, institutional names and other memorials that have been under a media spotlight in recent weeks are the art and charity washing effluent of former times. It is right and proper that they should be removed from public spaces and put in storage. It is also worth noting that many of the slave trader memorials featured in recent news stories are for men who were in their time top City of London council officials including William Beckford and Robert Geffrye who were lord mayors, and John Cass who was a sheriff. One of the City’s current artwashing projects is the so-called Culture Mile. This consists both of grandiose projects such as a ridiculously expensive Centre For Music, and lesser ‘pop up’ programmes including last month’s Radio Local, which functioned to compromise those who involved themselves in it by drawing them into the City’s artwashing orbit and mixing together self-organised community initiatives such as a local food bank with the obnoxious animal cruelty operation Club Gascon (which masquerades as a restaurant and specialises in foie gras torture dishes).

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List of Memorials In The City of London Linked To Slavery, Colonialism & Racism

This is a partial list of public memorials in the City of London which commemorate individuals with links to slavery, colonialism and racism. We’ve drawn up this far from exhaustive inventory in part because we are not convinced the Tackling Racism Working Party announced by the City of London council on 11 June 2020 will deal effectively with this aspect of its remit (or indeed any aspect of it). Our lack of confidence is based on the council’s past record and in particular the ongoing refusal of Edward Lord as chair of the Establishment Committee to seriously address glass ceiling issues at the council. In contrast, until we see what it does we will withhold judgement on the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm established by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on June 9, 2020 to review and access public tributes including statues and other landmarks. Both Khan’s Commission and the City’s Working Party ought to do much more than make recommendations on all the items listed beneath when it comes to dealing with the square mile. While it would be great to have all the memorials on our partial inventory removed or renamed, tackling other aspects of institutional racism and sexism is an even higher priority for us.

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The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 1

When discussing English slave trading the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company are key reference points and both have deep roots in the City of London. Many of the individuals implicated in the black holocaust through their involvement in these two slave trading entities also played key roles in local government in the City of London including as lord mayors, sheriffs and members of livery companies. Some of these slave traders are still memorialised in the City of London. Memorials tend to erase the complexities of history through simple celebration, which is why their removal from public spaces generally enhances historical understanding. That said, the undemocratic and still in many ways feudal local government machinery of the City of London is also in its contemporary form a product of the slave trade and it is more important that this is dismantled than that statues are removed and streets get renamed. It would, however, be ideal if both the governance of the City was democratically reformed and its problematic memorials removed.

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Will Robert Rogers’ Probe Into The City of London’s Corporate Governance Be A Joke?

The Telegraph reported today that the City of London Corporation has launched a review into how it is run following a string of controversies. The investigation is to be led by Robert Rogers AKA Lord Lisvane, hardly an independent figure since he is a City insider who belongs to The Worshipful Company of Skinners, and as such is entitled to vote on who is ‘elected’ lord mayor and as sheriffs at the council’s third chamber common hall. This rather leads us to suspect he may end up whitewashing matters such as the business vote and the need to abolish the role of lord mayor… however we’ll withhold judgement until we see what sort of review he produces. That said, he is not a figure who immediately inspires confidence since he is not independent. Given that the City of London is patently unfair, unaccountable and lacks transparency, the following assertion which The Telegraph attributes to a Corporation spokesperson in relation to this probe is particularly ominous: “We are beginning a review examining the City Corporation’s governance arrangements to ensure they are efficient, fair, transparent and accountable.”

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Top Jobs for the Lodge Boys as Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli are ‘Elected’ City of London Sheriffs

The City of London has never been embarrassed to disproportionately over-represent not just men but freemasons in its top posts, so it came as little surprise when the council’s website announced on 24 June 2019 that lodge members Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli had been elected City of London sheriffs. The post of sheriff is one down from Lord Mayor and to get that top job one must first be a aldermanic sheriff, the post won by Mainelli, who as we have already discussed is a member of the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons like more than two-thirds of Lord Mayor’s of London since this organisation was established in 1905. Given such a massive over-representation of freemasons in top posts at the City of London, the fact the men only Guildhall Lodge and others are allow to meet for free and/or at subsidised rates on council premises is an equality issue, as we’ve discussed in numerous previous posts, since these ‘fraternities’ play a key role in maintaining a glass ceiling at the City of London council that prevents women getting a shot at top roles.

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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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