Open your ears; for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth.
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I speak of peace while covert enmity,
Under the smile of safety, wounds the world...
"St Paul's Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of London and the site of state funerals and other national celebrations, is a powerful top-down organisation. A tourist attraction charging an adult entry fee of £14.50, it takes around £16,000 a day from visitors. It has a hierarchy of clerical and non clerical staff and its trustees are a roll call of what are so often called 'the great and the good'. That many of them are bankers and financiers might be seen as more than a little unfortunate in the present stand-off."
This site gives details of the Chairman and Board of Trustees. It also gives a link to the 2010 accounts, where we find two further individuals who resigned last December: Barry Bateman, vice-chairman of Fidelity International Limited and a benefactor of Exeter University; and a Nigel Kirkup, who has moved on to the St George's Chapel at the royal castle of Windsor and about whom it is proving intriguingly difficult to find out much more.
The land on which the protestors have erected their tents belongs to St Paul's and in an interesting display of Christian anti-authoritarianism, Canon Giles Fraser told the police to move on. The Dean (who is on the Board of Trustees) felt forced "with a heavy heart" to close the Cathedral on Friday, and Canon Fraser seems to concur, while still maintaining that "financial justice is a gospel imperative."
This business of closing a world landmark because of "health and safety" considerations may be, on the face of it, not necessarily entirely apolitical - from either side.
I should like to see the protestors call that bluff - putting up red velvet ropes so that visitors could pass safely in and out of the Cathedral, which survived the Blitz and surely cannot be seriously threatened by the proximity of a few polythene tents.
In addition, perhaps the members of the Board of Trustees could be approached individually, to give their views on modern capitalism and how it has, or has not, benefited the community?There's a smell about this, and it's not coming from the unwashed in their tepees.
Why am I reminded of Brian Haw, who spent the last 10 years of his life shaming Parliament with his anti-war protest. Even more shamefully, the authorities tried various dodges in retaliation: Westminster Council claimed he was an obstruction, and the Speaker of the House tried to invoke mediaeval laws guaranteeing the "safe" passage of MPs. The then Home Secretary David Blunkett announced he would outlaw "permanent encampments" outside Parliament as well as the use of megaphones.
So the - may I call them swine? - attempted to get him under the fresh draconian legislation of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, only to find that it didn't apply to Haw since his protest had started before that Act. But it does apply to any of us who might try the same kind of protest. Anything, anything is fair to spare those in power the slightest embarrassment.
This thing is the tip of an iceberg. There is a great battle joined for democracy against corrupt, wealthy tyrants, and these protestors are, perhaps, among the first of our "contemptible little army".