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Face-off: Should the Occupy London camp be given the heave-ho?

Posted at 5:15 pm, January 29, 2012 in News
Occupy London

Last week, the high court ruled that the City of London Corporation could go ahead with evicting the protesters at the Occupy London camp outside St Pail’s Cathedral. This week, we ask: Should the camp go?

Yes – Mike Wetherley, Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade
I think of the programme “Supernanny” everytime I see another group of misbehaving brats having tantrums in public. Whether it is those in front of Parliament [who were evicted last week], or those in front of St Paul’s, I can’t help but feel insulted for those with real problems. These self-appointed unelected moaners seem to think that they speak for everyone else. ‘Since my election to the House of Commons, I have been actively campaigning for squatting to be criminalised. The government has pledged to do just that. The St Paul’s campsite is not a squat, but it is being judged by normal members of the public with the same concept of natural justice in mind. ‘The right to protest – a right that I would defend to my last breath – comes with responsibilities. Sadly the St Paul’s protesters have left their responsibilities at home, which many return to each night. ‘Camping is fun – I enjoyed it as a child – so I can see why those involved do it. And where better to do it than in front of one of the nation’s great landmarks? But while the protest is supposedly a crusade against banks and capitalism, the reality is that it is just the usual vague protest espoused by spoilt anarchists. The most ridiculous element of this debacle is that those most affected are tourists, businesses, worshippers and workers. The “evil” banks probably haven’t even noticed. ‘The campsite on Parliament Square has been an embarrassment to our country and it is mystifying that it has been allowed to continue for so long. Both sets of campers (at St Paul’s and outside the Houses of Parliament) outstayed their welcome; they had to go. If all else fails, perhaps Supernanny could help with the removal. A move from the steps of St Paul’s to the “naughty step” would be most appropriate.’ mikeweatherleymp.com

No – Peter Vaughn, Occuply LSX volunteer
In just 100 days, the occupation placed betweenthe London Stock Exchange and St Paul’s Cathedral has become a powerful symbolic protest against the state of society. It has brought together people from all walks of life because they are angry. They’ve been made to pay for a crisis that they didn’t cause; from workers seeing their pensions slashed and the disabled being robbed of their support, to the young trapped in unemployment. We live in a country with the worst social mobility in the developed world, one of the most unequal societies in Europe. This occupation has become a visible democratic alternative. It has allowed the thousands of people who have visited it to discuss, relate to and understand the anger and frustration of the protesters. ‘The occupation is placed within the heart of the financial district, home to those who betted away our economy and who are now holding us to ransom. The camp is devoted wholeheartedly to the interests of society. In whose interest does the Stock Exchange work? The reopening of St Paul’s at the end of October showed that the health and safety issues were not a problem – and there were more sinister reasons behind the objection to us being there. ‘The City of London Corporation has fought to remove the camp. It is an undemocratic, unaccountable body that represents the financial powers of the City which the camp has been directly protesting against. It needs no further explanation to understand why the decision came to evict us: we have become too prominent, too difficult to ignore and too successful in capturing the anger against these powerful financial interests which do not serve the needs of ordinary people. The importance of the right to protest in a functioning democratic society should not be forgotten.’ occupylsx.org

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