Since I last penned a brief note on the St Pauls occupy London shenanigans, it seems there’s been some new story almost daily. The resignation of two senior church officials, the alleged 48 hour deadline, the declaration that the protestors are here to stay, the threat of legal action by the city, comments from both sides of mainstream politics (including Jonson’s memorable exhortation ‘In the name of God and mammon, go’) and now, finally, a silence-breaking Observer article by Ed Miliband.
In between the possibly hypocritical condemnations by the Tories, the possibly equally hypocritical support offered by Labour, the regulations of the City of London and the public dithering of the Church of England, there’s enough fuel here to keep the media busy for as long as the camp remains in place, and probably longer.
Dr Rowan Williams’s comments last week, in which he acknowledged the inequality inherent in the financial sector and called the protest ‘a real focus for people’s feelings and their imagination,’ were perceived by many as an antidote to the church’s infighting. In fact, they confuse matters further by acknowledging the ideological alliance between the church and the protestors while smartly avoiding the legal conflict.
The whole affair’s like a messy divorce case: the issues are being ignored because everyone has a claim to being a victim- a problem the media has taken it upon itself to sort out. The entire confused, irrational mess was summed up by the Daily Express last week in an unintentionally genius bit of satire: a reporter camped out in front of the house of a protestor, armed with a tent and a sign reading ‘how do you like it?’.
It’s an interesting quandry: it’s hard to think of a recent protest of this scale which has earned itself so many column inches, and arguably, visibility is enough. The rational, we might argue, will draw their own conclusions. However, my fear is that the temptations of a juicy bit of finger-pointing will obscure the issues at heart far more effectively than a thrown fire extinguisher ever could.