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What moral right does this council of the 1% have to evict those who defend the 99%?

The Corporation of London represents the 1% in a very precise way. They are its electorate. Most “electors” in the City of London (approximately 24,000 in 2009) are appointed by corporations — most of which are engaged in banking or financial services — as are the elected councillors.

The business voters greatly outnumber the 9,000 residents. And the City of London’s services don’t look much like that of most local authorities — it oversees more money spent on the education of the fee-paying children of the wealthy at City of London schools than on the education of its state-educated child residents. And yet the wealthy representatives of the wealthy, of precisely those who are most to blame for the mess that 99% of the world’s population are being asked to pay for, out of their pockets and with their jobs, are seeking to evict those protesting on behalf of that 99%.

Small wonder then that anti-cuts activists who have focused on bankers’ greed and tax dodgers (‘the symptoms‘) now believe it’s time to focus on The City itself (‘the disease‘), and on restoring democracy to the square mile. Under the banner Reclaim the City, their demands are simple:

  • that the local council representing the Square Mile be chosen solely by the votes of the Citizens of London.
  • that the Corporation of London publishes its secret City Cash account held in trust for the Citizens of London.
  • that the Lord Mayor of London once again serve the interests of the Citizens of London rather than the interests of finance.

If that sounds as reasonable to you as it does to us, (though we might prefer to merge it with one or more neighbouring boroughs), you might want to join their Alternative Lord Mayor’s Show on 12 November:

Every year the Lord Mayor flaunts his wealth and power through the streets of London during the “Lord Mayor’s show” which begins at Mansion House in the heart of the City of London. We will gather there as the show begins, and let the Lord Mayor know what we think of him and his cronies. We will then process to the ancient folk moot at St. Paul’s Cross, the birthplace of democracy on these islands, and acclaim an alternative Lord Mayor for the freeborn Citizens of London.

If you have any doubts about the need to abolish the City Corporation, read George Monbiot’s excellent article in today’s Guardian: “the medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London is ripe for protest.” As John McDonnell described it:

The corporation is a group of hangers-on, who create what is known as the best dining club in the City … a rotten borough.”

It will unfortunately come as no surprise that John’s criticism was made in the debate on the last “reform” of the City Corporation, that of the first Blair Government, which simply extended the franchise from the accountancy and legal partnerships which used to dominate it to the corporations which do so now, abandoning a long-standing commitment by Labour to democratise London’s City government.

Additional information on the Corporation here.

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