Today was an an enormously emotional day for Elisabeth and me as, not only was it Michaelmas (!), I was elected as the 695th Lord Mayor of London for the ‘year ensuing’, from 10 November 2023 till 10 November 2024. My acceptance speech, and thanks to the Livery and City of London community follows, and, yes, it was a delightfully sunny day with the sun directly in my eyes for the photos:
Speech at Common Hall, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, 29 September 2023
My Lord Mayor,
Fellow Liverymen, thank you, for the very great honour you bestow, by electing me to become the 695th Lord Mayor of London. With great humility, ‘I accept the office’ for the ensuing year – representing this, the world’s oldest continuous democratic workers’ and residents’ cooperative.
I first arrived in London in 1979. London entranced me, it entranced Elisabeth, and 44 years later it is the only home we desire. If this sounds like Dick Whittington, I’m proud that he was Alderman for Broad Street too. London’s friendly, yes, though sometimes rude. Many of you will know Russell who owns Graham Browne, the City tailor of Bow Lane. Last week he asked, “Would Sir care for a little extra banqueting room?”. How brusque is that?
This great City has always has responded to challenges with Continuity & Change, Tradition & Innovation. After financial crises, Brexit, and bond market turmoil, as recently as yesterday my firm’s Global Financial Centres Index showed London holding firmly onto second place, gaining ten points on New York City.
My Lord Mayor, alongside Felicity, you led us into our third Carolingian Age. Your work on Financing Our Future, with more to come, has helped with those gains. Your Financial Numeracy work addresses our skills gaps. Your Mansion House Compact has helped unleash more finance for innovation and growth.
Continuing your work, my chosen theme is “Connect To Prosper”, celebrating the many Knowledge Miles of the Square Mile, the World’s Coffee House. As the Livery knows well, my background is as a scientist economist trying to promote societal advance through better decisions about technology and finance.
London is the world’s coffee house where people bring their dreams to see them realised – such as solutions to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals on poverty, health, climate change, and more. Over 40 learned societies, 70 universities, and 130 research institutes surround our City. Our City workforce has as many scientists, engineers, and technicians as bankers and insurers. 8,000 of our 24,000 businesses are science & engineering.
The Connect To Prosper programme includes a connectivity webapp, online lectures, Mansion House coffee colloquies on leading-edge topics, a Constructing Science programme to convert offices to laboratories, an ethical artificial intelligence initiative, a global mental health research programme, a space protection initiative with the insurance industry, a Lord Mayor’s Show with six floats from cities around the globe, and more. And we hope to have fun with special Thames events, science experiments, concerts, a Bavarian Ball, and even bagpipes.
As part of the bargain you get an amazing Elisabeth too. The key to a happy marriage is communication. Elisabeth and I have a wonderful marriage. I always know what she is thinking, because she tells me. She always knows what I’m thinking, because she tells me that too.
You get a further bargain with my four nationalities, exemplifying London’s openness. As your third Irish Lord Mayor, I’m the proverbial third bus. But now you have your first USA-born Lord Mayor and your first Italian Lord Mayor, with a German wife and family in Japan and the Netherlands. No surprise that of the 25 countries visited over 100 days representing our City overseas, Italy, Germany, Ireland, the USA, Japan, and the Netherlands will be special. As a World Trader and Watermen you get a final bargain of a proud liveryman of one dozen other companies, with his Mason wife.
We look forward to sharing the year with our newly-minted Shrieval team, Sue and Bronek, consorts Gary and Jane, working together with our fellow Aldermen and Alderwomen, Common Council, led by my fellow Sheriff Chris Hayward, City of London Corporation, led by Town Clerk Ian Thomas, city businesses, our diverse multi-faceted communities – and you, ladies and gentlemen, the Livery.
Fellow Liverymen, I would not be here today without the huge support that the livery, business, judiciary, military, clergy, and others have given to Elisabeth and me. London’s openness to all – treating all comers fairly, is its greatest strength. We may be immigrants who started as citizens of anywhere, but now we are citizens of somewhere – somewhere wonderful.
You all know my passion for the maritime sector and the Thames, so please indulge me as I share a prayer by a master of the sea, Sir Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord, when…
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly…
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
Let all of us in this magnificent City continue to be disturbed to greatness.
It is with humility, and trust in your continued support, that I accept this office.
My Lord Mayor.