Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mayor Boris Johnson, Lord Mayor Roger Gifford: The banker in the Mansion House; a bankers' friend in City Hall

My puzzled French friend saw London's Mayor in Cannes and asked: "Why does London have a funny man as Lord Mayor?"
- "You're confusing the appointed Lord Mayor of London with the elected Mayor of London," I replied, (writes London journalist Paul Coleman).

Ambassador and Champion 
I told Pascal the appointed Lord Mayor - currently the banker, Roger Gifford - acts as ceremonial head of the Corporation of the City of London, the local authority for the 'Square Mile' that hosts the world's largest investment banks. Gifford, as the 685th Lord Mayor, acts as global 'ambassador' for the bankers in the City.
   The second elected Mayor of London - the Eton-educated 'funny man', Boris Johnson - 'champions London and all Londoners' as his Mayoral website puts it.

Pascal nodded, enlightened. But then I felt confused. Recent uttering suggests Johnson, the eccentric polemicist in City Hall, far more vigorously protects and promotes bankers than Gifford, the quieter man In the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor's home.
   Speaking to MIPIM global property shindig delegates at Cannes, Johnson caned European Parliamentarians for proposing bankers' bonuses be capped at their salary levels.
London's prosperity depends on successful City bankers, Johnson told MIPIM delegates. Despite the downturn since 2008, Johnson says London still needs to consolidate itself as the "global financial capital of the world".

Even if, Johnson seems to believe, this means turning most of central London - and redeveloping outlying rundown areas - into property playgrounds for global elites. Parts of London - Johnson told MIPIM - such as the Royal Docks, Croydon, Old Oak Common and Tottenham "are ripe for development".
   Johnson also lambasted a proposed 'mansion tax' on £2 million-plus London properties as "an abomination" and an attack on "wealth creation".
Johnson treated his Cannes crowd to an Abraham Lincoln wisdom pearl: "You don't make poor people richer by making rich people poorer."
- "You see, he's a funny man, your Lord Mayor," chirped Pascal.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, March 2013

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