Monday, 17 October 2011
Bankers out , OK
Is it 1968 again? For that was the year of worldwide protests. The spirit of change was in the air. Political orthodoxy was being challenged.
Last Saturday, saw a global day of action inspired by the US’s Occupy Wall Street movement and they in turn took their lead from the protests of the young in Madrid.
As Wales was closed down for sport this last weekend, the nearest protests against mammon took place in the grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral. An appropriate venue ‘cos it’s in spitting distance of the City, the financial centre of the country and as some would have it, the world.
And the purpose of the protest, to vent anger at reckless bankers who are to blame for the financial crisis that world finds itself in.
So the TV screens showed Sunday worshippers picking a path through a makeshift camp of around 100 tents erected at the foot of the cathedral's steps. A very gentile and a very British type of protest, methinks.
But the gentile and peaceful nature of the demonstration should not fool us. There is real anger out there with the bankers and the financial institutions who continue to get substantial bonuses. Yes, big pay-offs to them whilst many of the rest of the population are on their uppers due to the government’s austerity measures. A programme of measures aimed at sorting “the fine mess the bankers got us in.”
The response of governments? Weak and ineffectual. They’ve wagged their finger at the bankers with little effect. The bonus culture is alive and well. But for the rest, a series of measures that have cut back on economic growth causing an increase in unemployment coupled with reduced benefits. As the old song goes “it’s the rich that get the pleasure and the poor that get the blame.”
Governments have become blinkered in their response to the crisis. The approach has been to do as little as possible in the hope that the world will right itself. And against such complacency, people are rightly getting angry.
St Paul’s is just the start, all the signs are that there will be more demonstrations of this kind to follow. Couple these with the Unions who are taking to the streets with widespread strike actions and the result will undoubtedly be worrying.
Chaos there will be for sure, but will there be more? Is change in the air? Will political orthodoxy be challenged? In such turbulent economic times, who knows? As the Chinese say "We’re living in interesting times."