Protesters target UK financial system

Updated: 2011-10-17 08:01

By Zhang Chunyan and Cecily Liu (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

 Protesters target UK financial system

Demonstrators at their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral in central London on Saturday. Protesters promised to occupy the site indefinitely to show their anger at bankers and politicians over the global economic crisis. [Olivia Harris / Reuters]

LONDON - Those who once had faith in the financial system are starting to lose it, campaigners said as the world witnesses the unprecedented global movement inspired by New York's anti-Wall Street protests.

"Since the 2008 crisis, ordinary citizens have given their governments the benefit of the doubt to reform financial institutions," Sony Kapoor, managing director of Re-Define, an international economic think tank, told China Daily.

"But clearly they have failed to see the financial system made sound, they have failed to see strong regulation, and have seen instead more tax on the little people," he said.

"What we are seeing is a tomorrow that looks worse than yesterday and today. There is frustration born of an inability to bring the bankers to account," Kapoor added.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York last month, anger over unemployment, austerity, growing inequality, tax policies and opposition to the financial elite led to protests in more than 900 cities globally on Saturday.

In London, thousands of protesters gathered outside St Paul's Cathedral, after being prevented by police from protesting outside the London Stock Exchange.

Dylan Sutherland from Durham Business School said: "The financial system in the West has got out of control. Bankers are awarded huge bonuses for reckless gambling, and it made taxpayers angry that they bailed out the banks in the 2008 crisis."

Since then, there has been a lot of discussion about how to reduce risk in the financial sector, including government commissioned reports, but very little has changed, Sutherland said.

"We have a semi-paralyzed financial system, and bankers have too much political power. They are to blame without a doubt," he added.

"Our flawed banking system has destroyed all possibilities of achieving equality, so I have come ask for more opportunities for young people," said Steve Stephenson, 21.

Income inequality in the UK is at its highest in 40 years and youth unemployment, already running high, is close to 1 million, according to figures released last week by Britain's Office for National Statistics.

The general lack of prospects for young people is widely thought to have contributed to the rioting and looting that paralyzed areas of London in August and spread to other major cities.

Emma Close, 23, said she was under tremendous pressure to find a job while finishing her last year of studies at Sussex University. With the recent tripling of university fees in England, a master's degree is no longer an option for her.

Smaller demonstrations took place in other cities across the UK, including Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.