This was the unequivocal message from the newly appointed chief executive of Occupy LSX, as reported by Reuters, in what was a triumphalist tone following internal bickering from within the movement over the past few weeks as to how it should consolidate and develop its position. The renewed threat of eviction by St Pauls and the City of London and the dead of night removal of hundreds of protesters by police of their associate movement in Zuccotti Park in New York and elsewhere in the United States, seem to have concentrated the minds of the London group.
Events have moved on by leaps and bounds in the past few days. On Wednesday David Cameron, in response to a written question during PMQ’s in parliament, confirmed that the CEO of Occupy LSX had been invited to give evidence to the Select Committee on Social Affairs. Later the same day the chairman of the Social Affairs Committee confirmed that his committee would prepare a report together with recommendations, which would likely include an expansion of apprenticeship schemes and a reversal of the planned closure of many youth clubs. The chairman stated: We must all be concerned about the unemployment figures published this week showing that young people out of work has topped the one million mark. We must do more to help our young people into work and to keep them off the streets and out of mischief. The Occupy LSX group is a palpable example of our failure to do enough for our young people.
Separately, and in addition to the Social Affairs Committee investigation, the Prime Minister announced that there will be a public enquiry into the grievances of the Occupy LSX group. This is to be chaired by Sir Gus O’Donnell, who recently announced his decision to retire as head of the civil service. The public enquiry is expected to be formally constituted by June 2012 and has been given a strict deadline to report by the summer of 2017. The new Dean of St Paul’s and the Lord Mayor of London will complete the panel for the enquiry; both of whom have waived payment for their work. Sir Gus O’Donnell’s pay rate has not yet been finalised but it is expected to be capped at the level of his current six figure salary with the civil service; although in addition he will be entitled to draw his full pension alongside payment for his work on the enquiry. The public enquiry will meet for a full day every other month and is expected to hear evidence from a wide range of people including representatives from the Occupy LSX group.
Reuters, who have established a permanent news hub on the steps of St Paul’s and are the officially approved conduit for communications between the Occupy LSX group and the rest of the media, have confirmed today that the Management Committee of Occupy LSX has made a formal application to the Charities Commission to become a registered charity. At the same time it was announced that the group have registered with Companies House a limited company to provide a separate trading arm called: Occupy Everything Ltd. which is to be the vehicle to handle the marketing and sales of what is a burgeoning merchandising business. Anything from T-Shirts proclaiming: We’re just doing what Jesus would have done to hand-carved hard wood figurines of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus with a motif on the nappy which reads: I occupied the Virgin Mary. The new Dean of St Paul’s has expressed concern at some of the merchandising slogans and has invited the Occupy LSX committee to meet with the St Paul’s Ethics and Morals Sub Committee. It is understood that St Paul’s intends to raise issues of copyright infringement at the forthcoming meeting. In a pre-emptive move to stave off possible litigation, Occupy LSX has applied for registration with the Patents Office to establish Occupy LSX as a protected trademark, together with patent protection for some of its merchandising range. Pressed about rumours circling on the internet that the PR specialists Max Clifford and the recently discredited Adam Werrity (former unofficial adviser to the former Defence Secretary, Liam Fox) are advising Occupy LSX on how to improve its PR and marketing strategy were vehemently denied as ‘ridiculous.’ An equally terse response was given when asked about the leak by someone in the accounts department of Computer Cab that the Occupy LSX committee members had been running up large taxi bills. The Occupy LSX spokesperson stated: Whatever bills had been incurred were in connection with legitimate Occupy LSX business and would be properly accounted for. When questioned about the source of the large donations which have funded the taxi bills and other ‘expenses’ made to the Occupy LSX committee members, the spokesperson said: it our firm intention to set up a public register of such donations when the time is right. All future media enquiries relating to issues of finance are to be handled by Price Waterhouse Coopers who have been appointed the accountants of Occupy LSX. Price Waterhouse has declined to accept a client fee from Occupy LSX, saying that they are providing their services free of charge as part of their Progressive Community – 2050 Project.
Another interesting development this week was the confirmation by Occupy LSX that, after some fractious debate in the People’s Assembly, the Occupy LSX CEO has accepted the offer by St Paul’s of a place on its Board of Trustees, saying that this was in: the spirit of reconciliation and a response to the olive branch which St Paul’s had held out to them during their stay outside the cathedral. For their part St Paul’s welcomed its new member as an opportunity to create a better balance amongst it trustees; the majority of whom are bankers.
And then the alarm bell rang and I woke up. Thank God! It was just a nightmare.
With thanks to Occupy LSX which kindly gave its permission for the use of its trademark in the writing of this article.