Cameron comes out in support of Dr Williams

by
03 November 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday that a “cataract of unintended consequences” had fol­lowed the initial welcome offered to protesters by St Paul’s Cathedral.

In an article for the Financial Times, Dr Williams said: “The cath­ed­ral found itself trapped between what must have looked like equally unpleasant courses of action. Two outstandingly gifted clergy have resigned.”

He went on: “The protest at St Paul’s was seen by an unexpectedly large number of people as the expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment that shows no sign of diminishing. There is still a powerful sense around — fair or not — of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of impatience with a return to ‘business as usual’, represented by still-soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices.”

In a surprise move, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, expressed his support for Dr Williams. During Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, he said: “I think the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks, frankly, for the whole country when he says that it is unacceptable in a time of difficulty when people at the top of our society are not showing signs of responsibility.”

Speaking to the BBC on Wed­nesday, Dr Williams said: “The in­stinctive response that Canon Giles Fraser gave on that very first day, when he asked the police to leave, that does say something very pro­found about the Church’s willing­ness, at the direct, face-to-face, pas­toral level, to be welcome to these questions and to these concerns.”

When asked why he had not commented earlier on the St Paul’s protests, Dr Williams said: “I’ve been talking about some of these economic issues fairly regularly for the last couple of years. . . I’ve been engaged abroad in the last couple of weeks, last week with the Pope in Assisi. Judging the right time to say something is always difficult, and I may or may not have got it right.”

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Dr Williams first commented on the situation at St Paul’s on Monday, shortly after it was announced that the Rt Revd Graeme Knowles had resigned as Dean. He said: “The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how de­cisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and un­welcome consequences.”

In his Financial Times article, Dr Williams reiterated his call for a Tobin, or “Robin Hood”, tax on financial transactions (News, 1 Octo­ber 2010). He said that the re­sulting funds from the tax should be “designated for investment and development in the ‘real’ economy, domestically and internationally. . . This has won the backing of sig­nificant experts who cannot be written off as naïve anti-capitalists — George Soros, Bill Gates, and many others.”

Dr Williams said that the Tobin Tax proposal was “on the agenda” for the meeting of the G20 group of national economies, which began yesterday in Cannes.

He also said that “early govern­ment action” was needed to im­plement the recommendations of the Vickers Commission, which said that “routine banking business should be clearly separated from speculative transactions”.

Protesters are tired but sympathetic
by Ed Beavan

IT IS 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, and there is a relaxed atmosphere at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Protesters are tired but sympathetic
by Ed Beavan

IT IS 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, and there is a relaxed atmosphere at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

As city workers rush home and tourists stop to take photographs, a lively discussion is taking place in the crowded “Tent City University” on the injustices of the economic system. Bunting adorns some of the tents, while banners declare “What would Jesus do?” and “Caring is everyone’s business”.

As city workers rush home and tourists stop to take photographs, a lively discussion is taking place in the crowded “Tent City University” on the injustices of the economic system. Bunting adorns some of the tents, while banners declare “What would Jesus do?” and “Caring is everyone’s business”.

Some of the protesters sit on the steps of the cathedral, chatting to passers-by, while others sit smoking outside their tents. Several of the protesters’ dogs, including a white husky, are tied to the tents.

Some of the protesters sit on the steps of the cathedral, chatting to passers-by, while others sit smoking outside their tents. Several of the protesters’ dogs, including a white husky, are tied to the tents.

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Seth, aged 63, is listening to the country singer Kris Kristofferson on his radio while eating sushi. “I’m here because of the fiasco over the banking system, they caused this crisis but then we’ve got to bail them out.

Seth, aged 63, is listening to the country singer Kris Kristofferson on his radio while eating sushi. “I’m here because of the fiasco over the banking system, they caused this crisis but then we’ve got to bail them out.

“I’m enjoying it, there’s a great atmosphere and great people. We’re getting our voice heard, and we’re here for the long haul. They’re not going to evict us in a hurry.”

“I’m enjoying it, there’s a great atmosphere and great people. We’re getting our voice heard, and we’re here for the long haul. They’re not going to evict us in a hurry.”

A group of Spanish protesters have set up a rota system for their patch of concrete. José, aged 49, originally from Barcelona, is an insurance agent. “We’re trying to build something. We want to create a new society and regenerate this city. It’s not about being here, but taking what we’ve learnt out into society.

A group of Spanish protesters have set up a rota system for their patch of concrete. José, aged 49, originally from Barcelona, is an insurance agent. “We’re trying to build something. We want to create a new society and regenerate this city. It’s not about being here, but taking what we’ve learnt out into society.

“It’s tough for St Paul’s and they are under a lot of pressure. I’m not happy about the resignations.”

“It’s tough for St Paul’s and they are under a lot of pressure. I’m not happy about the resignations.”

Mark, aged 35, comes from Ger­many, and has been a social worker in London. “I’m here because I share the frustrations of this global movement against the financial in­stitutions and corruption.

Mark, aged 35, comes from Ger­many, and has been a social worker in London. “I’m here because I share the frustrations of this global movement against the financial in­stitutions and corruption.

“I’m very grateful for Giles Fraser and his initial stance. And I’m pleased to see there is a debate within the Church, and people who under­stand that meeting peaceful protest with violence is not the best way.

“I’m very grateful for Giles Fraser and his initial stance. And I’m pleased to see there is a debate within the Church, and people who under­stand that meeting peaceful protest with violence is not the best way.

“It’s impossible to say how long we will stay, but I’m enjoying it. It’s very stressful and tiring, but inspir­ing at the same time.

“It’s impossible to say how long we will stay, but I’m enjoying it. It’s very stressful and tiring, but inspir­ing at the same time.

“It’s not easy to sleep in a tent, and it’s getting very cold. But it’s really interesting to debate with bankers and other people you meet from very different lifestyles.”

“It’s not easy to sleep in a tent, and it’s getting very cold. But it’s really interesting to debate with bankers and other people you meet from very different lifestyles.”

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