Mayor of London Boris Johnson has been accused of “wildly misjudging” his handling of the Occupy London Stock Exchange (LSX) protest by Ken Livingstone.
Livingstone said it was “completely uninspiring” that people felt the need to protest because they were losing their jobs while company executives received pay rises.
The Labour mayoral candidate’s criticism of Johnson’s response to the Occupy LSX protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral comes as the City of London Corporation prepares to take legal action to clear the site. The City of London Corporation is expected to hand protesters a letter telling them to remove their tents within 48 hours or High Court action will be taken to evict them.
Livingstone said: “The mayor of London’s office has wildly misjudged this issue, making the Occupy movement the enemy but failing to act on public concerns about jobs and growth.
“This has been a peaceful protest, and it should be approached on that basis. City Hall has a duty to accommodate those who wish to protest in London and ensure their safety whilst ensuring the London does not grind to a halt. No one wants or expects there to be permanent camps – all protests have a beginning and an end – but the scale of the problems ordinary people are facing mean these international protests are inevitably not yet over.”
The City must “give more back to the wider London community that hosts it”, said Livingstone, adding that charitable donations from bankers would not be enough as they would address the capital’s deep inequalities and the need for a balanced economy.
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Last week, Johnson said while he had respect for the protesters’ points, they should leave before they cause any further disruption. The mayor said it would be a “good thing” for the City of London Corporation and the cathedral to find a common legal ground.
Kit Malthouse, Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing, suggested using sprinkler systems to avoid tent communities appearing across London. Malthouse said there was a difference between protesting and people taking the opportunity to camp in public areas.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for St Paul’s denied the cathedral was taking joint action with the City of London Corporation to remove the protesters.
“Members of Chapter met yesterday following the resignation of the Dean and are due to meet with the Bishop of London today (Tuesday),” said the spokesman. “The Chapter have not yet sought an injunction, nor are they serving notices on the protesters today. They are committed to a peaceful resolution at all costs.”