It’s a great shame the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters’ first action to emulate their Occupy Wall Street brothers and sisters has been to cause the closure of St Paul’s Cathedral.
I went to see for myself yesterday and clearly health and safety issues made necessary what the Luftwaffe failed to do – namely close the doors of Wren’s great masterpiece to the public indefinitely.
In so doing the Cathedral is denied entrance monies that support its upkeep. The Church authorities did the Christian thing and originally welcomed a small number of tents on to its privately owned property around the church when the protesters failed to ‘occupy’ the nearby London Stock Exchange.
There are now hundreds of tents – and a fresh site has opened in Finsbury Square, which is even closer to the heart of the financial district in London’s Square Mile.
I’ve looked at the literature online and as best I can make out by coming together in tented communities, the protesters want to announce that people – no, the people – reject the powerful elite they see controlling banks, politicians, and the media.
“It is a system that must be challenged, changed, and re-built” to paraphrase one declaration I found on Facebook. The same piece denied that having general elections every five years meant we lived in a democracy because this elite ran the show whoever was prime minister.
Unfortunately just how the voice of the 99 per cent is to be heard has to date eluded the sleeping bag revolutionaries.
But with the banking crisis now years old and with no relief in sight, the anger against the Establishment in Britain is widespread.
As long as the protesters maintain tight self-policing, I expect they will receive tacit support from the nation at large and City workers in particular, who are none too happy that the failings of their greedy masters have endangered their own jobs.
They must avoid being infiltrated by agent provocateurs, pissing in flower beds, smoking dope, getting drunk, stealing from and assaulting each other.
Eventually it will end in tears if the mass of protesters don’t voluntarily go home by Christmas.
Boredom and a desire to keep making headlines might prompt breakaway moves to occupy the City HQs of this or that financial institution. The police can be expected to drop their softly-softly policy in response to militant action.
Poor hygiene might trigger epidemics. The weather has been mild; a cold snap with accompanying downpours will be particularly tough for those camped on concrete at the St Paul’s site.
Until then, altogether. "What do we want?" "Change." When do we want it?" "Now." "How are we going to get it?" "Er..."