On a visit to London this week, I passed by St. Paul’s Cathedral – the site of London’s contribution to the global Occupy protest, which campaigns against the financial abundance of our wealthiest 1%. I agree with the principle that 99% of society should not be facing severe money worries whilst the top earners stand by and watch, but I am not sure how easily legislation will be changed. The uber-wealthy are often linked to tax evasion and are seen as not contributing fairly to the economy, but they are freely allowed to keep much of their earnings whilst others are taxed to the hilt. Recently we’ve heard that gas prices will continue to rise and there are constant problems with Joe Public obtaining adequate heating or actually tracking down the boiler man, yet all of the providers of UK gas services have given their bosses bonuses of £1 million or more. It’s precisely during an economic downturn, when we rely on the basics, that we need to be paying less to get by every day, which is why it’s so wrong that the CEOs are waltzing off with our money.
So that, in a nutshell, is why Occupy London is taking place, and it’s been positioned at St. Paul’s Cathedral because the London Stock Exchange is within spitting distance. However I saw many city boy types carelessly passing the protesters, whilst the placards and banners weren’t as prominent or exciting as they needed to be to attract media attention. The tents looked shabby and the site looked fairly quiet for a lunchtime – precisely the hour to be making a scene if you want to attract passers by on their break from work, or heading out to a nice meal. I can only assume that the protesters were off getting their own snacks, or heading back to employment after a weekend of battle cries, but it did seem pretty disappointing. I wasn’t expecting anarchy, but it looks as though we’ve failed dismally compared to the high-profile efforts of New Yorkers in Occupy Wall Street.
Perhaps there ought to be more reserved and British ways of making a point that the Occupy London contingent can engage with, such as letter writing (which is something we use a lot, to great effect, in Amnesty International – it’s freed people from Death Row, for one thing)? I just feel that the protest might as well have been over, as it wasn’t creating any kind of buzz or curiosity, which is what really needs to be done when you’re trying to peacefully make a stand. Disrupting the running of St. Paul’s Cathedral doesn’t quite cut it as the most effective way of bringing down the rich.