London bankers baffled by protest camp's aims: survey

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2011 12:29 PM
London bankers baffled by protest camp's aims: survey

LONDON (Reuters) - Most finance industry workers are baffled by the anti-capitalist protest taking place outside London's St Paul's cathedral, and are struggling to understand what the movement is trying to achieve, a survey published Wednesday showed.

The St Paul's camp set up two months ago, close to the London Stock Exchange protesters had originally been targeting, drew a hostile response from 31 percent of respondents in a poll of over 500 financial services workers.

Almost as many -- 27 percent -- were either strongly or somewhat sympathetic to the protesters' aims in the poll by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments.

But the movement's main challenge seems to be explaining what it stands for, as 42 percent of respondents said they were unsure of its objectives.

One anonymous contributor lamented the absence of a credible alternative to capitalism.

"Although the anti-capital slogan is misguided it is possible to have some sympathy," the person said.

Another, however, slammed the movement.

"If they don't want capitalism then I suggest that they never set foot in a car, building, plane, bus or train and never buy their food from a supermarket or any kind of supply chain," the second contributor said.

The protesters, who pitched about 200 tents by St Paul's in October, have resisted various eviction attempts. They have also had a fraught relationship with the Church of England because of their proximity to the cathedral.

But the Church has also channeled the debate between protesters and the financial industry, setting up a meeting with Financial Services Authority head Hector Sants last week.

Few bankers have directly engaged with protesters, however, including those based in offices around St Paul's.

Many of those have been dismissive of the movement.

"They're there with their shiny pop-up tents and just look to me like the music festival crowd, here for a bit of a laugh. We have much bigger things on our minds right now," one banker based in the area told Reuters, referring to a wave of banking job cuts and the economic woes engulfing Europe.

(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)