Occupy: London bankers speak, then there’s the question of style

How intriguing — and refreshing — to read what London bankers have to say about Occupy LSX!

For those who wonder where I stand on Occupy, please see my posts on the subject as well as my economic meltdown series.  In short, sit-ins and stink-ins aren’t going to solve the problem.  Also, anyone who is earning less than £45,000 a year is being subsidised by the 1% making upwards of £150,000 per annum. They contribute 24% of our nation’s tax revenue.

Vice — which has several different editions around the world — is an edgy Gen Y online magazine which has been around for several years.  (Yes, it’s an odd title for a churchmouse to read.)  Last week, a reporter for the UK edition interviewed a few City types to find out what they thought of Occupy.  It’s a cracking article complete with photos — well worth a few minutes of your time.

What follows are excerpts of what they had to say:

VICE: Hello banker, what’s your name?

And how long have you worked in the city?

Twelve years.

What sort of banking thing do you do?

I’m an insurance broker working for a finance company.

Do you have an opinion on the Occupation?

Well I think it’s an easy thing to hit on the banks and the financial community. But it’s not very well informed, because everyone depends on what the City does. I mean, the UK in general benefits very much from having the financial centre here. Without it, a lot more people would be unemployed, plus we would pay more for stuff.

What do you think about the actual people camped out for the Occupation? Is it a problem them being there?

It seems a bit like in New York, I mean they’re all… I mean… they look like… hmmm…


Yeah! And in Madrid, and in Italy, as you would expect, it’s the militant anarchists out on the street beating up the shops. It doesn’t really help the cause. Just wait for the Germans to show up, they can be tough as well.

Did you ever go to any protests in your salad days?

No, not really. I signed a petition once. It’s the only petition I’ve ever signed in my life, against the Shah of Iran. I didn’t realise I was supporting this Ayatollah Khomeini, who was sitting in Paris at the time. After that I never signed anything again.

Next up is Zach:

Zach, do you think the Occupiers have a problem with being taken seriously, then?

Well, I don’t know about being taken seriously, but in the political world and in the Western world sitting on the floor outside a cathedral is not going to achieve anything. You need someone at the top with a proper voice … it’s very nice … but it’s not gonna achieve anything. That’s what I think, anyway.

What do you think of the jugglers? What’s the best trick you’ve seen?

Mate, I’ve been to Glastonbury four times, I’ve been to India, I know all about it, you know? I’m not a mug. I just happen to work in the City. At the weekends I dress like that.

You sound a bit defensive. Do you feel like you’re being victimised?

What, people who work in banks? Not me particularly, we’re small cogs in a massive wheel. We don’t see ourselves as ‘bankers’ as such, more people who work in a bank. We wanted a job when we left uni, we didn’t have anything else to do. If these companies were to leave and move to Asia, a lot of people would be out of work. This place would be a lot more depressing than it is now, I can guarantee you that.

Then there’s Leo from Spain:

Do you think the protesters will achieve anything?

No. I haven’t been down there, but I don’t think you have to go down there to know what they want. But, no, they won’t.

So people basically need to shut up and learn to just get used to it.

Well, I’m not sure about what the end result is going to be. I mean, there have been quite a few crises in the last 30, 40, 50 years. I think, more than anything, that it’s an exercise in responsibility that needs to be taken, and that takes more than protests and sit-ins in front of St Paul’s church.

Some of the Occupiers were talking about starting a new society, what do you think about that?

I think setting up a new society is fair enough. I mean people can do what the hell they want. But what is it that’s new about that society? What values are they trying to instil? What is it they’re trying to propagate as a set of values, as a set of rules, as a set of ideas? You know, saying ‘Oh yeah, we need a new society’ is great, but what is it gonna be like? It’s not a solution in itself.

Any advice for the people camped in St Paul’s square?

Maybe they can come up with some good ideas, if they do then good for them. In the meantime, they need to be saving all the money they can!

And Louise:

What do you think of the protesters themselves?

Well, are they on benefits? Who’s paying for those benefits? Probably our taxes. I’d be very curious to actually look at the demographics of who’s protesting, and see how many have full-time jobs. If not, how are they funding themselves?

Should the bankers stage a counter protest?

I don’t know, I think we just take it all and carry on. I’m just a normal person.

Vice‘s US edition asks whether Occupy can survive its lack of styleIt’s stinky and makes 1990s grunge look like Chanel. But the article says this is more about how things are unfolding:

It’s easy to dismiss a bunch of unwashed, directionless ragamuffins chanting time-worn protest slogans like “the whole world is watching” (that is, if they’re not watching Hollywood real estate porn or Real Housewife franchises) or “shame on you” (which sounds a bit too much like a disappointed mother, especially when directed toward a cop in full fascist attire violently macing a clueless co-ed). It’s a bit more difficult to dismiss someone who has a fistful of brilliant manifestoes and a manifestly militant, stylish posture.

Yes, well, that we haven’t seen yet, thank goodness.  After all, they have to expand the movement first, then in true leftist fashion, it will have to splinter into several different factions, each wanting complete control over the others.

We’ve been here before many times in historical events greater and smaller, from the Russian Revolution to now.  But I would bet these kids wouldn’t know anything about that.

8 comments for “Occupy: London bankers speak, then there’s the question of style

  1. john in cheshire
    October 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I think the bank-workers were remarkably restrained in their comments. I’m not sure I would have been, in their situation.
    For me, the phrase ’empty vessels make the most noise’ springs to mind.
    As for clearing the area around St Pauls Cathedral, why can’t they be hosed down with water cannon, tasered and tear-gassed out of the City?

    • October 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks, John. The people I knew working in City banks in the 1990s (comparable level to those interviewed) would probably have responded the same as these guys. Presumably, theirs is the temperament one needs to have in order to succeed in a high-pressure financial environment.

      On my own blog tonight I’ll be looking at the clearance issue around St Paul’s. They own some of the land and the Corporation of London the other areas. The Corporation of London is ready to proceed with legal action but cannot do so unless St Paul’s consents. Today, the Canon Chancellor, the Revd Dr Giles Fraser, stood down because he does not wish to be part of possible ‘violence in the name of the Church’. More on this later.

      • john in cheshire
        October 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

        Churchmouse, you are welcome. Mr Fraser appears to be part of the problem, rather than the solution. But that’s the self-delusion of socialists.

        • October 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm

          You took the words right out of my mouth! He’ll probably join the protesters. 😉

          Notice also that the Bp of London was late to comment and from the Archbishop of Canterbury we hear … the sound of silence!

          No wonder the C of E is in such an abysmal state. Maybe the clergy will use this as a wake-up call. I doubt it, although we can but see.

          • October 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm

            I’m thinking of applying for the job as Archbishop of Canterbury as the post appears to be vacant.

            • October 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm


              Please do! A layperson would be miles better than the present incumbent (due to retire next year?) and any of the possible candidates for his replacement.

  2. October 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I’d be very curious to actually look at the demographics of who’s protesting, and see how many have full-time jobs.

    I think many would like to know that.

    • October 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      Yes, I would, too, James. The Americans are asking the same questions of the NYC (and elsewhere) crowd.

      I included the Zuccotti Park link in the third paragraph from the end so that everyone could see what happening there. The residents who live nearby — a comfortable neighbourhood — say that you can smell the park a few streets away. There now appears to be a bedbug epidemic as well as some unsanitary things being left in or near people’s doorways. These are families whose children go to school within walking distance — state or private.

      Leftists ask, ‘Why is no one else joining the Occupy crowds?’ Other people have salaries to earn (jobs to lose!), mortgages to pay, families to feed and money to save (where possible!).

      Later edit: However, there is a larger issue here. Zuccotti Park is private and Bloomberg and his companion have some links with it. They, not unlike the Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, do not wish to have the protesters removed. Some Americans believe that this is a telling detail — a run-up to their 2012 elections and a mob intimidating people to re-elect Obama. I’m not sure, but it will be interesting to see where this goes.

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