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Published on November 1st, 2011 | by Lorna Gledhill
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Protesters call for an ethical economy (c) Alan Denney"]The Real Economy[/caption] Today, the protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral, London, were issued a letter from the City of London Corporation declaring that they have 48 hours to clear the campsite or expect to face legal action. After two controversial weeks of the Occupy London camp functioning in the grounds of the famous Cathedral, its future looks complex. The Corporation of London’s (a.k.a City of London Corporation) decision to take legal action was one that was supposedly supported by the authorities at St Paul’s. However, whilst the chapter at St Paul’s have previously stated they too would seek a high court injunction to remove the protesters, they have not yet taken proceedings further. Instead, the decisive action of the Corporation of London has been slightly overshadowed by another resignation from the chapter at St Paul’s. Yesterday, Dean Graeme Knowles announced his resignation, claiming that his position had become untenable. In a statement, he declared “I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the chapter of this great cathedral.” This follows the resignation of Rvt Giles Fraser, Chancellor Canon of St Paul’s, and part-time chaplain, Fraser Dyer, last week. It is impossible to ignore the fractures that have appeared in the chapter of St Paul’s over the last week. The pressure from the mayor of London, the home secretary, David Cameron, and Occupy London protesters has all fallen upon St Paul’s authorities, pushing the church towards a political pedestal they were not ready to inhabit. In the words of the Church Times’ editor, Paul Handley, “it’s not just about the Church, it’s the Church and a political event […] when it’s something that touches the life of the nation, it’s on a different scale altogether. It’s beyond their ken.” Unfortunately, in their confusion and panic over the political magnitude of the situation, St Paul’s chapter have picked the wrong allies. Paul Handley goes on to say that “This is about politics, that’s what the camp is so good at and St Paul’s is so bad at. […] They were hugely mistaken in closing the cathedral and backing the injunction. They have started on a path they have no control over and the threat of force undermines any efforts to be friendly.” The lack of leadership within St Paul’s authorities has allowed them to be led astray by the Corporation of London. This situation has created a perfect distraction for the punitive actions planned by the Corporation of London, plans that come with a complete backing from the Home Secretary Teresa May. As the media focuses on fractures within the Anglican Church, the vested interests within the Corporation of London are left unchecked. In the words of OLSX, “our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral”, yet this is the scenario that has played out on national media channels. The Corporation of London is more than a unique borough of London. It is, according to George Monboit, “the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority.” Organised in an antiquated hierarchy of aldermen, sheriffs and a Lord Mayor, it possesses a vast pool of cash which can be spent without democratic oversight. Even the Lord Mayor himself must be extremely wealthy prior to assuming the post, as he/she is expected to donate a vast sum to the annual running of the Mayoral position. In 21 out of the 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile, corporations control the votes. These banks and financial companies “appoint” a certain number of voters, dependent on the size of the business. For example, the corporation with the largest number of employees manages to have 79 individual ‘human’ votes. Not only does the Corporation of London function upon completely deregulated financial support, but also equally undermines the very principle of our democratic process. Banks and big business are authorised to use block voting within the Square Mile, yet, unlike the similar situation with the Unions, there’s no sound of Tory disapproval here. The Lord Mayor of the Corporation of London is supposed to advise the government on how to help the financial services to function well. This, in other words, allows a whole metropolitan borough to lobby on behalf of big business. In the words of Michael Bear, the Lord Mayor himself, “although the City is far more than just banking, banking and the City are inextricably linked.” In the last few weeks, the Church of England has got itself tangled in the collusive web that binds the financial sector and our government. The autonomous state that is the City of London has, with the full support of government, allowed St Paul’s to take the bullet as the Corporation continues to function as normal. This is far from the corporate, financial or social responsibility that it claims to pioneer. “Banking”, according to Michael Bear, “has become the lifeblood of our global village, transcending nations or regional unions.” As financial institutions flex their muscles and exercise their authority over boroughs, governments and even religious institutions, banking is not lifeblood, but a contagious disease that threatens to poison rather than sustain. And as the democratic right to protest is more frequently followed by a ‘but’ clause, the stranglehold of big business over the country tightens its grip.

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Corporations not co-operation: St Paul’s and the City of London

The Real Economy

Protesters call for an ethical economy (c) Alan Denney

Today, the protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral, London, were issued a letter from the City of London Corporation declaring that they have 48 hours to clear the campsite or expect to face legal action. After two controversial weeks of the Occupy London camp functioning in the grounds of the famous Cathedral, its future looks complex.

The Corporation of London’s (a.k.a City of London Corporation) decision to take legal action was one that was supposedly supported by the authorities at St Paul’s. However, whilst the chapter at St Paul’s have previously stated they too would seek a high court injunction to remove the protesters, they have not yet taken proceedings further.

Instead, the decisive action of the Corporation of London has been slightly overshadowed by another resignation from the chapter at St Paul’s. Yesterday, Dean Graeme Knowles announced his resignation, claiming that his position had become untenable. In a statement, he declared “I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the chapter of this great cathedral.” This follows the resignation of Rvt Giles Fraser, Chancellor Canon of St Paul’s, and part-time chaplain, Fraser Dyer, last week.

It is impossible to ignore the fractures that have appeared in the chapter of St Paul’s over the last week. The pressure from the mayor of London, the home secretary, David Cameron, and Occupy London protesters has all fallen upon St Paul’s authorities, pushing the church towards a political pedestal they were not ready to inhabit.

In the words of the Church Times’ editor, Paul Handley, “it’s not just about the Church, it’s the Church and a political event […] when it’s something that touches the life of the nation, it’s on a different scale altogether. It’s beyond their ken.” Unfortunately, in their confusion and panic over the political magnitude of the situation, St Paul’s chapter have picked the wrong allies.

Paul Handley goes on to say that “This is about politics, that’s what the camp is so good at and St Paul’s is so bad at. […] They were hugely mistaken in closing the cathedral and backing the injunction. They have started on a path they have no control over and the threat of force undermines any efforts to be friendly.” The lack of leadership within St Paul’s authorities has allowed them to be led astray by the Corporation of London.

This situation has created a perfect distraction for the punitive actions planned by the Corporation of London, plans that come with a complete backing from the Home Secretary Teresa May. As the media focuses on fractures within the Anglican Church, the vested interests within the Corporation of London are left unchecked. In the words of OLSX, “our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral”, yet this is the scenario that has played out on national media channels.

The Corporation of London is more than a unique borough of London. It is, according to George Monboit, “the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority.” Organised in an antiquated hierarchy of aldermen, sheriffs and a Lord Mayor, it possesses a vast pool of cash which can be spent without democratic oversight. Even the Lord Mayor himself must be extremely wealthy prior to assuming the post, as he/she is expected to donate a vast sum to the annual running of the Mayoral position.

In 21 out of the 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile, corporations control the votes. These banks and financial companies “appoint” a certain number of voters, dependent on the size of the business. For example, the corporation with the largest number of employees manages to have 79 individual ‘human’ votes. Not only does the Corporation of London function upon completely deregulated financial support, but also equally undermines the very principle of our democratic process. Banks and big business are authorised to use block voting within the Square Mile, yet, unlike the similar situation with the Unions, there’s no sound of Tory disapproval here.

The Lord Mayor of the Corporation of London is supposed to advise the government on how to help the financial services to function well. This, in other words, allows a whole metropolitan borough to lobby on behalf of big business. In the words of Michael Bear, the Lord Mayor himself, “although the City is far more than just banking, banking and the City are inextricably linked.”

In the last few weeks, the Church of England has got itself tangled in the collusive web that binds the financial sector and our government. The autonomous state that is the City of London has, with the full support of government, allowed St Paul’s to take the bullet as the Corporation continues to function as normal. This is far from the corporate, financial or social responsibility that it claims to pioneer.

“Banking”, according to Michael Bear, “has become the lifeblood of our global village, transcending nations or regional unions.” As financial institutions flex their muscles and exercise their authority over boroughs, governments and even religious institutions, banking is not lifeblood, but a contagious disease that threatens to poison rather than sustain. And as the democratic right to protest is more frequently followed by a ‘but’ clause, the stranglehold of big business over the country tightens its grip.

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  • Lorna

    As St Paul's chapter have now stated they will suspend legal actions against Occupy London protesters, it seems that the Church have separated themselves from the corporation of London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2011/nov/01/occ

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