Tim Hailes And Unconscious Bias At The City of London Council

In a tweet about BLM protestors in Bristol (UK) taking a statue of slave trader Edward Colston from its plinth and throwing it in a river, influential City of London councillor Tim Hailes bleats: “Violence is not the answer.” In such a context violence would more usually be used describe behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone, or some other living thing. But as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, Hailes wishes to conflate attacks on property – in this case a statue – with attacks on people, hence his rhetorical use of the term violence. It says a lot about Hailes’s biases that he would deploy violence in this way but apparently not to describe the murder of millions in the black holocaust of the transatlantic slave trade.

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The City of London Council Motion On Hong Kong

At its most recent meeting, the City of London council passed a motion which welcomed Hong Kong residents pursuant to the British Government’s offer to them of extended resident rights in the UK, and criticised China’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. Will the Lord Mayor and Chair of Policy and Resources respect the will of the council by ceasing to deal with China in a way that avoids criticising it for human rights abuses? As part of that new approach, will they take the lead in reversing the decision to exclude Taiwan from the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was made on political grounds to appease the People’s Republic of China?

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City School Ditches John Cass Slaver Name, Its Racist Paintings Must Go Too!

None of the stories we’ve seen about the Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School changing its name mentioned whether Robert Robinson’s seventeenth-century racist panel paintings that are housed in the school building will be taken away. We reproduced Madge Dessers’s critique of these pictures towards the end of a piece we posted in June. We also noted in a number of recent posts that top City of London council officials – including current lord mayor William Russell – have posed in front of these racist images for photo ops when attending the annual celebration of slave trader John Cass. We would hope that there are plans in place to remove Robinson’s racist paintings from the school but given the past form of those involved we wouldn’t assume this to be the case until we see a statement from them saying so. Likewise we’d hope the huge red feather – the symbol of John Cass – has been or will be removed from the outer wall of the school, but again none of the news reports we’ve seen mention it.

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More Photos Of Lord Mayor Of London William Russell Celebrating Slave Trader John Cass

In a recent blog we reported on how for hundreds of years those holding the top posts at the City of London council have been celebrating the slave trader John Cass whose memorials have been hastily removed from across east central and east London following Black Lives Matter protests. As we previously relayed, pages about the annual ‘Founder’s Day’ celebration of this slave trader have been deleted from the website of the foundation named after him. Although documentation of this year’s John Cass Founder’s Day debacle has not been preserved at the Internet Archive, at least some of what his foundation posted about this event prior to 2020 can be accessed there. These include a 2017 photo of City grandees at the event, with the current lord mayor William Russell prominent in his then role as sheriff, with everyone posing in front of a notorious set of seventeenth-century racist paintings by Robert Robinson. Since then we’ve found some more photos of William Russell at this event despite the Sir John Cass’s Foundation deleting pages from its website about this annual celebration of the slave trader.

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Self-Styled City Diversity ‘Champ’ Edward Lord Champions Slave Traders

We’ve written in the past about how City of London councillor and self-styled ‘diversity champion’ Edward Lord has a less than stellar record when it comes to the matters of inclusion and intersectionality. Therefore we weren’t surprised when we came across a two year-old tweet in which Lord boasted about attending the annual celebrations of slave trader John Cass. But John Cass isn’t the only transatlantic slave trade figure Lord seems to venerate. In a speech at the City of London council’s Guildhall HQ on 10 October 2019, Lord cited William Beckford Senior as a historically inspirational figure. Beckford was the richest man in the world in his time because of the huge number of slaves he owned. Lord apparently thinks this is a mere detail that can be glossed over.

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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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James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence

A news splash on the City of London council website yesterday announced that James Thomson has been elected as chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board. While this will surprise few who follow City of London politics – since Thomson has been on the board for the past five years and has occupied the post of deputy chairman for the past three – it will nevertheless further undermine public confidence in the City of London Police because of a series of controversies that continue to swirl around this councillor.

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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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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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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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