David Cameron has described the Occupy London Stock Exchange (LSX) protest as not “particularly constructive” as the demonstrators issued a set of demands.
Occupy LSX protesters have been camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral since last month, while anti-war campaigners have held a vigil outside Parliament for more than 10 years, but the prime minister said erecting a tent village was not a good way to protest.
Cameron also dismissed the idea that the protests may be the sort of civic activism which his Big Society programme was designed to encourage.
The prime minister, speaking to the House of Commons Liaison Committee about the Big Society, said: “Obviously, the right of people to protest is fundamental to our country. The idea of establishing tents in the middle of our city, I don’t feel is particularly constructive. I don’t think it’s particularly constructive in Parliament Square and I don’t think it’s particularly constructive at St Paul’s.”
Cameron said his Big Society agenda was about people getting involved in their local community and not about demonstrating.
“Protest is, to me, a separate issue,” said Cameron. “It is certainly a right that people have, but I have got this rather quaint view that you shouldn’t be able to erect tents all over the place. I think protesting is something you, on the whole, should do on two feet rather than lying down – in some cases in a fairly comatose state.”
Meanwhile, demonstrators at the Occupy LSX protest have drawn up a list of agreed demands which, if met, could result in them leaving the area outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The demands are designed to open the the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for housing in the financial centre area, to more scrutiny.
Demonstrators have also asked the corporation to publish its accounts retrospectively back to 2008 and disclose its financial involvements. Occupy LSX also calls for a commission with representatives from the main political parties to look at reforming the corporation to be set up and chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A statement from the demonstrators calls for the end of business and corporate votes in elections which can outvote local residents, the removal of “secrecy practices” and the transparent reform of institutions, and decommissioning the City of London police and replacing them with the Metropolitan Police. It also asks for the abolition of the offices of the lord mayor, aldermen and sheriffs, along with a commission to examine allegations of corruption.