I’ve just got back from London, where I spent a few hours with the Occupy group outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The level of organisation was impressive. Great care was being taken not to block access to the Cathedral, toilets and kitchens all seemed to function pretty well, a first aid post was manned by volunteer doctors and nurses, the information desk and library were well staffed and efficient. The fact that the Cathedral authorities had previously felt it necessary to close the Cathedral for a week seems to have been a case of ‘health and safety gone mad.’
The protesters have organised a ‘Tent City University’, open to anyone to present ideas, to listen, debate and to learn. Anyone can propose a session via their excellent website, http://tentcityuniversity.occupylsx.org/. They have attracted an impressive list of speakers including Richard Wilkinson, co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’, George Monbiot, Rupert Read and dozens of others, some well known, others not. I gave a talk on ‘Ideas for a Sustainable Future’, which generated a good level of interest and debate. This afternoon, Wednesday 9th November, there will be a demonstration and folk concert featuring many of the best known political singers of the last half century, including Peggy Seeger, Billy Bragg, Roy Bailey, Leon Rosselson amongst others.
These demonstrations and occupations are the tip of an iceberg. Rage against the increasing inequality that debt driven consumer capitalism is generating is on the rise globally. Reports that UK directors pay rose by 50% last year while austerity measures forced more of us into financial difficulties are provoking anger on a scale I’ve not seen since the days of Thatcher and the Poll Tax protests.
Global political and financial leaders seem ever more out of touch with the people, and remind me more and more of the Communist leaders in Eastern Europe in the months and years before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, mouthing political and economic rhetoric nobody believes any longer. The people and the planet are crying out for change. The next blog will be my Global Wish List!