Labour's Portsoken Aldermanic candidate William Campbell-Taylor on why the City needs to be transformed for the many

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An Aldermanic election has just been announced in the City of London. Here Labour's Portsoken Aldermanic candidate William Campbell-Taylor writes on why the City needs to be transformed for the many not just the few:

The Lord Mayor’s Show is the largest street party in the world and probably its oldest. On the second Saturday in November, the City of London Corporation puts its new lord mayor into a golden coach and trundles them up to the law courts, to swear the oaths of allegiance, and then back again.

There are fireworks over the Thames and a flotilla during the day. If you remember your rain gear it’s a fun family day out.

This week, the prime minister, the lord chancellor and the archbishop of Canterbury will come to the medieval Guildhall and raise their glass to the 690th lord mayor. Not every borough leader gets this kind of welcome. But then again not every borough council has private assets valued at £2.5bn.

When not donning his tricorn, the lord mayor of London is a top lobbyist for the financial and professional services. Throughout their year in office they work with the Treasury and the Foreign Office, encouraging the goose to continue to lay those golden eggs.

Until 1997, it was Labour party policy to abolish the City of London Corporation. New Labour made its ill-fated accommodation with the City and then it turned out that those eggs were toxic after all and the goose was fouling its nest.

Should the corporation now be abolished and the golden coach consigned to the Museum of London? Many on the left would say it should. But I don’t think so. I say that not only because next month I am standing for office as the City’s first Labour alderman, but because I think the corporation needs to be transformed, not abolished. This will not be easy, quick or painless.

First, it needs to wean itself off its love of Caribbean tax holidays and begin to put its capital to work in Stoke and Doncaster and in the “Brexit heartlands”. It needs to challenge the corrosive levels of pay in the City and the gross inefficiency of a financial system where so much of our money goes on fees – a self-service industry rather than a service industry.

The corporation needs to challenge a culture where bankers buy off poor communities with day trips to see that goose wandering around the poultry farm. Trick or treating may be the modern City’s way, but it is not the traditional way.

Actually, from its roots in the Saxon folkmoot, the City has pioneered deliberative democracy. In its resistance to the arbitrary dominion of King John, the barons established accountability at Runnymede. In the medieval livery companies, there is a movement to guarantee the quality of the product. In its ward clubs, guild churches and ancient precincts, there is a pattern of civic association. My ward even has its own liveried militia: the original small platoon.

Capitalism can only be transformed by these relationships of reciprocity and solidarity. The City of London Corporation needs to remember its history and allow it to serve the common good.

 

William Campbell-Taylor is the Labour candidate for the forthcoming Aldermanic election in Portsoken ward of the City of London. The election will take place on Thursday 14 December 2017. To find our how you can get involved please visit http://www.westminsterlabour.co.uk/events or email labourportsoken@gmail.com

Source: The Guardian

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