What kind of organisation is the City Reform Group? Can anyone join?
Yes, we want anyone and everyone to get involved. All you have to do is agree with our Pledges and our Aims and Principles. First, we are looking for individuals and organisations to add their names to our website, to openly show support for these aims.
Secondly, we want all Council candidates in 2013 to agree to our principles of transparency, openness and a responsibility to the common good. Because we are not a party political grouping, we openly welcome candidates whether or not they are standing as members of national political parties.
Who came up with these pledges?
Seven Londoners got together and decided it was time that the City of London Corporation did just what it is supposed to. The City Reform Group began as a group of citizens including former councillors from Lambeth, Westminster and the City of London itself; barristers, pension fund managers and clergy. But CRG is for everyone – it is not a party, it is not a protest, it’s a pledge.
Why should any candidate sign up to someone else’s pledges?
The City Reform Group’s Pledges were put together by citizens of London and we aim to build a broad consensus around them between now and March 2013.
If you don’t tell people what you are intending to do (and not do), how can you ever be held to account? Click here to take another look at our Pledges – would you trust any elected official who wouldn’t agree to these basic standards?
Your First Pledge mentions ‘customers’ – who do you mean by this?
The customers of the City of London are the citizens who bank, the businesses who borrow, the pensioners who save and draw income – that is, all of us. We all depend on the City of London functioning well, honestly and in our interest.
What influence does the City of London Corporation really have over business?
The City of London Corporation is recognised as the spokesperson for the financial services industry and spends £10 million every year marketing, lobbying for and promoting that industry. That means the City Corporation has an important role, and with that role an important responsibility.
What will happen if candidates who have endorsed the Pledges get elected?
If candidates who have endorsed the Pledges are elected, this will start to change the culture within the City of London Corporation and will help change the culture within the financial services industry. It will help improve the relationship of trust which needs to exist between the financial services industry and the rest of us.
Are there any specific practices you think need to be changed?
We find it difficult to see how anyone who has endorsed the Pledges could not be committed to publishing the City Cash accounts and reviewing the nature of the promotional and lobbying activities upon which the Corporation spends so much money.
But there are many other policies that we hope those standing might wish to develop.
What is this thing called ‘The City’s Cash’?
This is the part of the City’s income for which it publishes no public accounts. It amounts to some £100 million each year and is earned from centuries-old bequests and investments.
Are you anything to do with Occupy?
No, we are not – Occupy aren’t the only people to be concerned about financial good practice. CRG is using the process of ballot-box democracy. So if you work in the City, you could vote for a candidate who has endorsed our Pledges. If you live in the UK, you can stand as a candidate. We are excited by the possibilities of using the democratic process to change things.
Do you intend to put forward candidates in every ward?
The City Reform Group will not be running candidates. The City Reform Group would like to see all candidates standing for election in March 2013 endorse our Pledges.
CRG will encourage people of all persuasions to stand should they wish to do so, and will explain how people can become candidates and how they can vote. But this is not party political. Indeed, if any existing councillor is standing again in 2013, we would be delighted if he or she endorses the Pledges, and so get CRG support. The same will go for candidates of any party, or none.