Saturday, October 25, 2014

UK Parliament Death Spiral: Occupy Movement Attempts Wake Up Call

Voice of Russia UK | Oct 24, 2014 | Tim Walklate

The protest group ‘Occupy’ is back. This time they’ve moved their demonstration to Parliament Square - directly opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. They want to show Britain’s MPs that they’re keen to push for a change to the political system in the country - that both wealth and power should be more evenly distributed. VoR's Tim Walklate went along to find out more.

Parliament Square is usually swarming with people - mostly tourists taking holiday snaps of the capital’s sights and the occasional MP or civil servant making their way to or from Whitehall. It has a large open green area in the centre, tree-lined to the west and is filled with statues of statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

But this week, the square has been “occupied” by some new residents. The “Occupy” movement, an international protest group against social and economic inequality, which maintained bases in both London’s Finsbury Square and outside St Paul’s Cathedral between 2011 and 2012, has now returned to London.

Now, in much smaller numbers, it frequents a place where numerous demonstrations and protests have previously been held in the past. Here for just one week until Monday evening, the Occupy Democracy campaign say on their website that they intend to “direct the energy from current single-issue struggles into a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt and unrepresentative system.”

Is this anything different from the Occupy movement of three years ago, you may ask? One of the organisers, George Barda, says that this time they want to demonstrate against the monopoly held by the three main Westminster parties: the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. He believes that they only represent the interests of big business and the wealthy: “There is an alternative and it’s not rocket science. We are the inheritors of the struggles of previous generations and of the post-war period, which was far from perfect.

"This gave us the broad-brush of what you can do when the people take some meaningful control of democracy. You can tax the absurdly wealthy, who otherwise have an incredibly unfair share of the economic pie and you can use that money to pay for social housing, hospitals and benefits for people in need. When you spread the wealth effectively you have a far more stable economy.

"If you educate people properly then they are far more effective contributors to the tax base. It works much better for everybody. When you have this incredible concentration of wealth then you get an increasingly dysfunctional economy - fewer and fewer people actually have money in their pockets required to pay for things, so all the local businesses suffer and more and more people have to go into debt to pay for things that they need.”

The protesters have been at Parliament Square since the 17th of October and plan to stay until Monday. However, during their brief time outside Westminster, they’ve had to deal with a growing police presence. On Sunday a group of protesters were forcibly removed from a sheet of tarpaulin laid out on the square - because the sheet was classified as sleeping equipment by the police.

Two days later on Tuesday around 30 people, including Jenny Jones from the Green Party, were arrested and fencing was erected around the grassy area of the square by the Greater London Authority for maintenance work.In spite of these scuffles with the authorities, the protesters remain, though in far smaller numbers than the hundreds who occupied the square earlier in the week.

The protesters will remain here at Parliament Square for just a few more days. But people like George say that they will continue to hold spontaneous demonstrations up and down the country in the coming months. They say that there’s a lot wrong with democracy in this country and that the Westminster parties need to better represent the interests of the British people.

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