A Brand New Auld Man

Today I had my first meeting before Common Council, where I had to make a few short remarks before the meeting began in earnest.  For those who wish to know more about the City of London Corporation and the role of an Alderman or Broad Street Ward, there is plenty to surf.

The City of London Corporation is the world’s oldest continuously elected local government.  The City is regarded as ‘incorporated by prescription’, meaning that the law presumes it to have been incorporated because it has for so long been regarded as such even in the absence of written documentation.  The Corporation began in Anglo-Saxon times.  The first record of a royal charter is 1067, when William the Conqueror confirmed the rights and privileges that the Citizens of London had enjoyed since the time of Edward the Confessor. Together, Common Council and the Court of Aldermen are considered to form the ‘grandmother of parliaments’.  The governing legislation is the Magna Carta (1215), “THE City of London shall have all the old Liberties and Customs [which it hath been used to have]. Moreover We will and grant, that all other Cities, Boroughs, Towns, and the Barons of the Five Ports, and all other Ports, shall have all their Liberties and free Customs.

[The other two outstanding ‘effects’ of the Magna Carta are personal liberties and no false imprisonment.]

End Of An Era & Start Of A New Age

Well, today was the swearing in ceremony at the Court of Aldermen.  It was a warm and friendly event, and I was guided by many, but will single out our Deputy, John Bennett, who very kindly introduced me to the Court and soothed my nerves throughout.  I set out the text of my response below:

My Lord Mayor, my fellow Aldermen.  It is with some trepidation that I face this challenging role.  I have much to learn, much more than I thought when I decided to stand for election in Broad Street a short while ago.  Just over three decades ago I was a transient, happy, even ignorant immigrant to the City of London, here to do a job, not intending to stay permanently.  Yet, I became entranced by the wonders of the City and discovered a community that treats all comers fairly and where “Dictum Meum Pactum” is not just a phrase from a dead language.  Behind all the pomp and circumstance, I can attest that the true traditions of the City are those of Dick Whittington; an open and tolerant community of people where honest trade is respected and rewarded – or as Thomas Jefferson said at his inaugural speech which inspired my Worshipful Company of World Traders’ motto – “Commerce and honest friendship with all.”

I thank Sir David Lewis for leaving the Ward in such fine shape.  I am honoured to have the support of three excellent Councilmen, including my friend and Deputy, John Bennett, John Scott and Christopher Hayward.  I know that I have your support and look forward to learning from you and working with you in finding ways to increase the City’s attractiveness to businesses and residents.   Regretfully, I shall probably make a few false steps along the way.  May I petition in advance your understanding and guidance when I do so.  May I thank you all for your encouragement and I look forward to serving with honour.

And I passed by St Margaret Lothbury where our parish church holds the Ward Notices to take a picture in honour of David, with the electoral result notice beneath:



I guess this is along the lines of “The Alderman has retired, long serve the new Alderman”.

Independence Day – All Tied Up By Broad Street Election Success

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, the traditional celebration day for American independence.  While some sci-fi film buffs may think it has something to do with freedom from aliens, the day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776 – “When in the Course of human events,…”

Yesterday, Thursday, was also election day for Broad Street Ward Alderman.  My opposing candidate and I spent 13 hours together, somewhat nervously, but passed the time in great conversation.  Though an eavesdropper might have paraphrased Winston Churchill, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average candidate.”  In the end, the result was 62% to 38% in my favour.  Alderman Ian Luder, acting as Lord Mayor locum tenens, kindly raised a glass of champagne, and I headed off to catch the digestif at the Gresham College annual dinner of the Professors.

So, what does the future hold?  Well, formal installation begins next week and I hope to keep folks informed about City and Ward business, albeit perhaps slightly frequently than during the election. It is a great honour to be taking over from former Lord Mayor and Alderman Sir David Lewis, and to be working with three great Common Councilmen, John Bennett, John Scott and Chris Hayward.   I  genuinely look forward to your advice on how best to advance Broad Street Ward and the City.

All that said, I did wonder about independence.  As this is a typical dress-down Friday and most of you know my aversion to neckties, it is a bit painful for me to realise that as Alderman I’ll be expected to wear ties far more often, let alone fancy dress of various forms, even silk stockings.  To see how it should be done with style, here is David showing off his good looks…

Lord Mayor  David Lewis

Expect a slightly frumpier, balding and not-quite-so-slim-but-striving-hard-to-look-good, Alderman in future.  Anyway, I’ll sign off by sharing this rather echoey quote from 1666 and Samuel Pepys, though it was 11 April and not 4 July – “Thence home, and after dinner to Gresham College, where a great deal of do and formality in choosing of the Council and Officers.  I had three votes to be of the Council, who am but a stranger, nor expected any.  So my Lord Bruncker being confirmed President I home, where I find to my great content my rails up upon my leads.”

Looking forward to greeting many of you at Guildhall in the future.

Wardmote Speech

Today’s Wardmote at Carpenters’ Hall was well attended and lasted 25 minutes.  I hope to welcome any voters from 08:00 to 20:00 on Thursday, 4 July at Carpenters’ Hall.  

I set out today’s speech and campaign pledge below:

After 29 years working in Broad Street Ward, it is with some humility that I stand before you today to ask for your vote for Alderman.   I intend to say only a few words to avoid Soviet-era oratory.  It was said that after one of his lengthy, repetitive speeches that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev confronted his speechwriter.  “I asked for a 15 minute speech, but the one you gave me lasted an hour!”  The speechwriter replied: “Comrade, it was 15 minutes, but I gave you four copies…”.  You’ll be glad to hear I have a single copy.

You also have copies of my record and services to the City in print and media, so I thought I would touch on two things not in the record, my passion for the ward and what I hope to achieve if elected.  My interest in Broad Street Ward dates back to 1984 when the Stock Exchange was still in the Ward and I began working on the computerisation of businesses here.  Over the years I worked in various City firms from L Messel, the stockbrokers, to being one of the senior partners of Binder Hamlyn, the accountants, and back in the ward for a few years with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell before founding Z/Yen, widely recognised as the City of London’s leading think-tank and venture firm.  In 2004, I became Chairman of the Broad Street Ward Club and increased the Club’s size markedly.  I am passionate about this amazing heart of the City.  I do not want to be AN Alderman, I would like to be THE Alderman of Broad Street Ward, and you are the people who will decide that.

What do I seek to do?  Well, two things.  First, from canvassing for this post I’ve learned that many businesses have closed or left the ward.  Many electors have moved on or lost their jobs.  We constantly need to find ways to increase the ward’s attractiveness to businesses and residents.   There is a big desire among ward residents to explore ways of improving life in the ward.  Imaginative thinking might do wonders with the pedestrian zone around Drapers Gardens, the opportunities of Crossrail, or the charm of Throgmorton Street.  If elected, I would have six monthly informal meetings under the auspices of the Ward Club where businesses, residents and common councilmen can make strategic connections on these issues before planning begins.  Toss ideas around once every six months over beer & peanuts or wine & olives.

Second, I want to work from within the City of London Corporation on improving the City’s attractiveness to business.  We need to show that we are open to business and treat folks fairly in the City from wherever they hail, which has been my experience.  London needs to continue to dominate my firm’s Global Financial Centres Index.  This boils down to two tasks – providing local government that works for all, and lobbying central government for sensible policies that are friendly to any proper business.

Those are my two objectives – increase the ward’s attractiveness while ensuring that the City remains open for global business.  They say that there is no difference between the Constitutions of the USA and Russia.  Both guarantee freedom of speech.  Perhaps, but the Constitution of the USA also guarantees freedom after the speech – and you’re now free of mine.  But I do ask for your vote.  Please vote for Michael Mainelli tomorrow.  Thank you.

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