• Home
  • News
  • Occupy London meets FSA and engages with the City; First statement of Economics Working Group

Occupy London meets FSA and engages with the City; First statement of Economics Working Group

 

*** Update – minutes for the meeting with the FSA are now available at Occupy London meets FSA – Minutes 7 December 2011 ***

  • Following meeting with FSA, Occupy London’s Economics Working Group publishes first statement calling for banks and financial institutions to be accountable to society, a clampdown on tax avoidance and the need for independent and effective regulation
  • Occupy London to host open discussion series entitled ‘Occupy London and the City engage’, organised by Occupy London’s Economics Working Group. First event tomorrow with John Wilkes, Director of Anglo-Suisse Capital, and Polly Toynbee, Guardian

Last night, nine representatives from across Occupy London – part of the global movement for social and economic justice – met with Hector Sants, CEO of the Financial Services Authority at St Ethelburga’s Tent at the Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the heart of the City of London.

Also in attendance were Ken Costa, former Vice-Chairman of UBS Investment Bank and Chairman of Lazard International, the Bishop of London Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres, Robert Gordon of St Paul’s Institute plus representatives of St Ethelburga’s. Minutes, taken by Occupy London and St Paul’s Institute will be published shortly.

Occupy London would like to thank Hector Sants for having the courage of his convictions and deciding to engage in dialogue with Occupy London. Occupy London feels that this may be an instructive example for others to follow – at any rate a more productive example than the ones set by those who would dismiss legitimate protest with derogatory terms or attempt to invoke a culture of fear. [1]

In the meeting, Mr Sants encouraged the Occupy movement to approach and engage with the formal political process, represented by organisations like the Treasury Select Committee.

Richard Paton, a supporter of Occupy London who attended the meeting, commented: “The one per cent still have us over a barrel, in a system which the entire political class seems either too compromised or too craven to take on. Portfolio managers will be able to veto efforts here to make banks safe, even though much of their speculating is useless.  It’s not just a question of “rewards for failure”, or bankers’ bonuses.  Even when investment banking activity is successful, it exposes us all to useless risk of the bankers’ continued feeding frenzy.

“There is a clear need for government and regulators to act internationally if they are to be part of the solution to the rampant iniquities the global financial sector have caused. There needs to be real and meaningful engagement by governments, regulators and the business community with the real people who affected by the lack of ethics and morality endemic in the financial system, for which the Occupy movement is acting as a lightning rod. No more “get ouf of jail free” cards for the City of London Corporation and their ilk.”

As he was leaving the meeting, Hector Sants said: “They undoubtedly believe the financial system needs to change further – it has already changed a lot but it should change further. We had a very interesting discussion, a number of very interesting points were raised. I learned a lot, I listened and I got a very fruitful and constructive dialogue, which as far as I can judge I think all parties felt. We were talking about the role the FSA plays in overseeing the financial system in the UK, how we are already going about trying to achieve significant change, and I was listening carefully to those areas where they would like to see further change.”

Occupy London’s Economic Working Group sets out initial statement

Occupy London’s Economic Working Group today publishes its initial statement, which was passed by the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral on 6 December. This statement is intended to be a springboard for discussion, both within Occupy LSX and beyond, about how to achieve the transformation necessary to address the economic crisis and urgent and profound changes required, “both small and immediate as well as radical and systemic”. [2]

It also outlines outline some of the major issues in the current economic system that need to be addressed including:

1. Banks and financial institutions need to be accountable to society

2. Current austerity measures are making a bad situation worse

3. The current economic system is unsustainable

4. Tackle systemic economic inequality

5. Clamp down on tax avoidance

6. Independent and  effective regulation

The full statement is given below.

This Friday – Launch of ‘Occupy London and the City engage’

At 12.30pm tomorrow (Friday 9 December), Occupy London will host the first in a series of open discussions, entitled ‘Occupy London and the City engage’, organised by Occupy London’s Economics Working Group.

Polly Toynbee will chair a discussion with John Wilkes, Director of Anglo-Suisse Capital, a merchant banker with experience of the London Stock Exchange, private equity, the banks, regulation and free markets. This is the first in a series of ‘Occupy London and the City engage’, in which we will create the space to have frank and robust conversations about the pressing economic, social and political issues that confront us today. The Economics Working Group will use this as a forum to work on specific proposals. Everyone is invited to bring their experience and expertise and be part of the process of developing solutions.

The second event as part of the series is scheduled for 1pm Friday 16 December focusing on proposals to address tax havens, which have been identified as a pressing problem by both Occupy London’s Economics and Corporations Working Groups.

 

Notes

[1] Boris calls for judges to have the courage to remove ‘crusties’ -

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-mayor/article-24010037-boris-calls-for-judges-to-have-the-courage-to-remove-crusties.do / Do the City of London Police really see Occupy London’s peaceful protesters as domestic extremists? – http://occupylsx.org/?p=1924

[2] Full Occupy London Economic Working Group Initial Statement detailed below:

This is Occupy London’s Economic Working Group initial statement, which was passed by the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral on 6 December

Our economy is in crisis and urgently requires profound changes; both small and immediate as well as radical and systemic. This statement is intended to be a springboard for discussion, both within Occupy LSX and beyond, about how to achieve this transformation.

Occupy LSX has been labelled as many things but what unites us is our commitment to economic justice  and social equality. We are part of a worldwide movement working to  create a more equitable, democratic and sustainable society which will ultimately benefit everyone. Below we outline some of the major issues in the current economic system that need to be addressed.

1. Banks and financial institutions need to be accountable to society

Financial institutions have increased in size to dominate our economy but have not become socially accountable in line with their increased power. Since 2008 hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and millions have experienced pain and hardship because of reckless financial practices. The debts incurred have been loaded onto almost every person in this country while a wealthy elite further enrich themselves. Despite promises of reform,  banks have been allowed to continue business as normal. Remuneration practices that irresponsibly reward risk and speculative behaviour must end, and deeper structural changes must follow, or our financial system will inevitably continue to fail.

2. Current austerity measures are making a bad situation worse

The UK government’s approach is damaging its own citizens now and the future of generations to come. Cuts to public services are having a disastrous impact on education, employment, business, health, social care and law and order. We oppose the unfair cuts and regressive taxes, currently inflicted on those vulnerable groups least able to bear the  burden. Women especially pick up the pieces, often through unwaged work. Deep and painful cuts, coupled with increased taxation, have been put in place based on political motives and flawed beliefs. The strategy is misguided, damaging and not working.

3. The current economic system is unsustainable 

Our economy encourages short-term profit at the expense of long-term sustainability. Not only does it precipitate environmental damage, it is also ill equipped to remedy it. It has fuelled a proliferation of financial debt and is piling  up ecological damage that future generations may never be able to repair. The climate crisis and dwindling energy and mineral resources, land  to build and produce food on, and the growing population, are incompatible  with the prevailing economic strategy. We must rewrite the rules of the economy in the interests of sustainability and wellbeing.

4. Tackle systemic economic inequality 

The economic system we live in increasingly benefits the few over the many. We believe it is  fundamental to the future health of society to reduce economic inequality  and its grave social consequences. There has been a widening of the chasm between rich and poor in the last 30 years and a persistent gender and age pay gap. Inequality has torn apart families,  left children hungry and without care, pensioners to freeze and turned communities against each other in a battle for housing and other scarce resources. Many within society are burdened with crippling debt. It cannot continue. We must acknowledge the role of the monetary and current tax system in perpetuating and augmenting inequality. It is not enough to redress the excesses of the system: we must reverse the damage done.

5. Clamp down on tax avoidance 

Our economy allows widespread avoidance of tax by those able to afford it. There has to be reform  to the tax system to ensure that those with the greatest capacity to pay tax do not have the greatest capacity to avoid it. We must abolish the use of tax havens and complex corporate tax structures and loopholes that allow corporations, financial institutions and the wealthiest individuals to avoid contributing their fair share to society.

6. Independent and  effective regulation

We call for effective regulation that works for the good of our society. Regulators must be totally independent, transparent, publicly accountable and provided with proper enforcement powers. Dangerous and highly leveraged trading practices have not been regulated properly. Britain must cease obstructing international efforts and take the lead in developing stronger  regulation.

The St Paul’s Institute found that 75% of financial services workers agree with us that the gap between rich and poor is too wide [3].  Occupy London is creating an open, participatory space to confront the problems at the heart of our financial system, outside of the confines of current political discourse.  

[3] St Paul’s Institute – Value and Values report -  http://www.stpaulsinstitute.org.uk/Reports

 

 
© 2012 Occupy London
Powered By DynamiX