by Stephen Tall on May 19, 2012
Just a few weeks after the fierce battle for the London mayoralty concluded, a very different election is due to take place — an election which hasn’t even been contested for more than a century. But now London Lib Dem member Patrick Streeter is standing for the post of City Auditor, and promising to ask some tough questions, according to an email received by the Voice this week:
Patrick Streeter of Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats is contesting an interesting election on June 25. Each year the City of London Corporation elects its auditors, although the position has not been contested for over one hundred years; it is always a ‘shoe in’ arranged by the City Controller. This year Patrick, a Chartered Accountant, is raising some important points –
· Why are properties worth over one billion listed in the Balance Sheet at nil?
· Why have the accounts not been published since 1963?
· Why are some descriptions of expenditure so vague as to be meaningless?
· Why are some notes to the accounts knowingly misleading?
The vote is by show of hands by all 42,000 liverymen in Guildhall. Patrick will need all his oratorical skills to win these backwoodsmen over.
He has at least earned the backing of the Telegraph’s City Diary: “He’s promising to shake things up. Good enough reason to vote for him I’d say.”
How will Patrick fare? Who knows — the Corporations elections have produced both tight and landslide victories, as this article in History Today (London’s Mayor: Running for Office) noted, for example:
Voters in the City of London, which housed some 15 per cent of the population of the capital in 1801, were particularly busy. They participated in annual elections not only for the mayoralty, but also for the posts of chamberlain, two sheriffs, two auditors and the aleconners (monitors). In addition, London’s 26 wards also voted regularly for their aldermen, common councilmen and beadles.
Victories could be overwhelming. In 1786 William Wilson received over 1,000 votes when elected as Middlesex coroner; his defeated rival, Peregrine Phillips, got just 27. But in 1796 the contest for the largely honorific post of bridge master of London Bridge was tight. It was won with 1,516 votes by a printer, John William Galabin, who beat the second of the four candidates by a mere seven votes.