the Secret City: the City of London

if you would randomly ask someone a question in London “where exactly is the city of London?”, i could guarantee that you would get a great variety of guesses at best, but most likely you would just confuse people and get another question in return “i am sorry, but i am not sure what you mean..”

But, it is understandable. The city of London is very extraordinary case with special history, laws and even more special status today both in London and globally. To me the city of London was just an administrative unit of London until I started to research tax competition issues. That’s when i found out that actually it is one of the tax havens which also explains city of londonwhy so many multinational companies and global banks are located exactly in that one square mile. Though it is still part of London and England, of course, it is very independent and autonomous with its own government, mayor, police, taxes, regulations and legislation.

Just very recently i had a chance to watch this new documentary The Secret City, which was a complete eye opener; the city of London is like an old relic which in a way seems like being stuck in time but equally is enough flexible and smart to adapt to modern times and benefit like no one else.

http://vimeo.com/ondemand/secretcity/63165512

In public discourse London/ the City of London is always used as an argument when talking about various global policies and initiatives in the area of finances, business, tax or competitiveness. Tories (particularly, Boris Johnson) like to call it as the Great Britain’s golden goose which has to be protected and whose interests have to be taken into account.

However, this documentary sets a different scene. The city of London “is not a golden goose, but a tree under which nothing else can grow.” The city of London is very secretive and with very anti-democratic governance model. Its governing body is elected not by its citizens or residents but by companies. Currently, apparently about 108 companies participate in elections. Border between the City of London and the East London is like the USA and Mexico border which highlights this huge contrast between the two. Labour party has tried to initiate reforms but so far there is no big progress.

City of London is so detached from the British economy and is servicing global financial sector more than London or Britain. It’s full official title is actually the City of London Corporation and as a corporation therefore it has no obligation to declare its assets or be accountable to anyone. It has a massive lobbying power and influence in British government and no legislation is adopted without the City of London’s knowledge or approval.

City of London with its unique and ‘special’ governance model certainly distorts the democracy and markets by playing according to different rules. Will ever anyone will be that courageous to put this relic in museum to let it rest and replace with modern democratic administration?

Another great film about history and government of the City of London, is this one.

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