Vince Cable expresses sympathy for St Paul's protesters


Vince Cable says he has sympathy with the Occupy protests

Related Stories

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said he sympathises with the emotions behind the protest at St Paul's Cathedral.

He told BBC One's Politics Show that the demo reflected feelings about those who had prospered in the economic crisis, as many more suffered.

Mr Cable added that legislation could be introduced to curb executive pay.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been critical of protesters for pitching tents at St Paul's - but has called for "responsibility" at the top of society.

Protesters have been camped outside St Paul's, in central London, since 15 October, which was a global day of protest against greed and inequality. They had originally gathered outside the nearby London Stock Exchange, with the aim of occupying it, but were stopped from doing so by police.

'Source of injustice'

Asked if he had sympathy with the protesters, Lib Dem Business Secretary Mr Cable, who has vowed to tackle "the escalation of executive pay", told the Politics Show: "I have sympathy with the emotions that lie behind it.

"Some of their recommendations aren't terribly helpful, but that's not the point. I think it does reflect a feeling that a small number of people have done extraordinarily well in the crisis, often undeservedly, and large numbers of other people who've played no part in causing the crisis have been hurt by it. So that's the source of the injustice."

Start Quote

The challenge is that they reflect a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: The gap between their values and the way our country is run”

End Quote Ed Miliband

But he said it was important to get "beyond slogans" and stressed he had set up a review into reforming executive pay.

The government has been consulting on the possibility of simplified pay structures and new powers for shareholders - intended to restrain executive pay - that could be introduced next year.

The prime minister has been critical of the way protesters set up camp outside St Paul's - which temporarily closed, cancelling Sunday services for the first time since the Blitz in 1941, saying that the camp posed a health and safety risk, and has seen several high profile resignations over the camp.

Questioned by MPs last week on the subject of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest, Mr Cameron said: "The idea of establishing tents in the middle of our city, I don't feel is particularly constructive.

The prime minister said he held the "rather quaint view" that "protesting is something you, on the whole, should do on two feet, rather than lying down - in some cases in a fairly comatose state".

But he has said that it is "unacceptable in a time of difficulty when people at the top of our society are not showing signs of responsibility" and said the government was consulting on measures to "make sure we get transparency in terms of boardroom pay, proper accountability and more power for shareholders".

Writing in the Observer last week, Labour leader Ed Miliband warned that "only the most reckless" would ignore the St Paul's protest and others around the world.

"The challenge is that they reflect a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: The gap between their values and the way our country is run," he wrote.

"I am determined that mainstream politics, and the Labour Party in particular, speaks to that crisis and rises to the challenge."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    There are a number of studies that show that people are more contented when there is less of an income gap between the lowest and highest paid employees.

    We have greedy executives whose only interest is in lining their own pockets at the expense of those who actually earn the money for companies these days.

    So Mr Cable make the legislation draconian until the balance is restored.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    While I agree with the people protesting at St Pauls & elswhere & have no time for Cable's posturing, as many comments here show - we need to be a lot clearer about what sort of changes we want, rather than just criticising the society/econoimic structure we currently have. there's a utopian vagueness about this that plays into the hands of those who resist change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Vince Cable may not always get it right but he's spot on here. The disregard, greed and unrelenting smugness displayed by some MPs and their business partners makes me sick.

    Let us not forget the expenses scandal where MPs caught red handed would whine "it's not me, it's the rules". We can no longer rely on our rulers to distinguish between right and wrong. It's up to us to now to remind them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    I think it displays a certain arrogance and narrow-mindedness of both Cable and Cameron in their comments- '...recommendations aren't helpful' and 'not constructive'. Maybe they aren't when you have got and only think you can have this rigid and ridiculous form of society shaped mainly by poorly functioning democracy and greedy capitalism. Take the blinkers of guys, there are other possibilities!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I too have sympathy with the protest, however, winning a few begrudging concessions that will inevitably & quickly be reneged upon it's not a solution. The system is about greed, lacks empathy for fellow humanity, therefore, a radical change in the way we live and consequently structure our society is what's needed. Not a few crumbs to hush the voices of dissent. We're too close to the edge now.


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.