Monday, October 3, 2011

The Lord Mayor of London and Smart Diplomacy

The Lord Mayor of London Alderman Michael Bear was in town and had a series of meetings and concerts running from September 9-10, 2011 in various locations. His visit to Kenya was not for pleasure and NOT exclusively for business but for both!

Smart Diplomacy
In what is currently dominating the Western world, soft power as opposed to hard power is now being practiced. Smart power is a theory that has been espoused recently where nations combine both hard and soft power. In the foreign policy magazine/website the multi-literalist has observed correctly that Europeans are good at using soft power and has attributed this to the European Union. Under the EU treaty EU member states come together and negotiate policies and decisions. So this it is believed has made Europeans better diplomats who appreciate the aspect of understanding other people’s culture and points of view.

The Lord Mayor Alderman appreciates culture and has a strategy for his mayoral year which he calls ‘cultural diplomacy’. He is using this strategy to support the city of London and its global agenda. Under this strategy he has partnered with Concordia Foundation.

Concerts all over the World
Concordia Foundation is expected to present concerts for the Lord Mayor in Britain and during his international visits some of which include Vietnam, China and Kenya.

I was invited to the concert at the BHC residence on Saturday September 10, 2011 and was delighted by the evening performances.
The evening had performances from our very own Moipei sisters, Rishabh & Akshay Sevak and Concordia Artists Satoko Fukuda, Couple Gareth McLearnon & Abigail Burrows and Jeremy Silver who was perfect on the piano. Gillian Humphreys founder and artist director of Concordia Foundation also gave a performance for the evening.

After the evening performance I had a rare chat with the Lord Mayor and we talked among many things his root with Kenya and football. The Lord Mayor was born in Kenya and is an Arsenal Fan. At the time of the meeting Arsenal was not at their best and the Lord Mayor was as is any other football fan sticking with his team ‘for the better or for the bad times’. I on the other hand am a Manchester United fan! Going by the Kenyan standards there are some ‘rivalry’ between Manchester United and Arsenal as opposed to Manchester United and Liverpool that exists in UK.

Duties of a Lord Mayor
So during my encounter with the Lord Mayor I came to learn a few things. One was the difference between the Mayor and the Lord Mayor. Most of us had gone there expecting to see the mayor.
In terms of duties the Lord Mayor made the differences of these two offices crystal clear. The Lord Mayor makes the money and the London mayor spends it!   

The office of the Lord Mayor is an elected post which one holds for one year. The Lord Mayor is head of City of London Corporation. Among his many duties he is expected to travel extensively in liaison with FCO (Foreign Commonwealth Office their Ministry of Foreign Affairs) hence he had a reception at BHC residence. 
From this travels he is expected to foster goodwill and boost British trade, particularly the markets and services of the city. The city of London has a vibrant capital markets and for those following the current impasse of the Euro (which UK is not a member) and debt crisis facing Greece and other periphery nations of the EU will understand that Germany and France have been playing a key role. 
The city of London is the financial power house of Europe (home of global capital) and most of the off shore banking in Switzerland is usually done from London.

The Lord Mayor and his Appeal
The Lord mayor Alderman Michael Bear has an appeal which is called ‘Bear Necessities’. His appeal is aimed at helping children in London access education and have greater life opportunities and at supporting international disaster relief.

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