Financial sector workers returned to their offices in the City of London yesterday to find hundreds of anti-capitalism protesters camped on their doorstep.
Police said the atmosphere was calm and there had been no arrests on the first business day since the demonstrators had occupied the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral, next to the London Stock Exchange. The protest began on Saturday as part of a wave of protests inspired by New York's month-long Occupy Wall Street movement.
Financiers were seen hovering on the fringe of the protesters' camp, reading their placards and trying to understand their demands. The bolder among them, such as financial recruitment company director Matthew Clapp, wandered among the demonstrators engaging them in what he called "healthy debate".
"There's a lot of protest, but there doesn't seem to be much of a solution," he said. "What are we going to do, barter cows and donkeys again? They say capitalism is bad: OK, what do they want to do about it?" Thomas Luccin, a banker, added: "Capitalism makes the world go around, to be honest. Look what happened with communism. There's always going to be greed in the world."
Mr Clapp said he had enjoyed a brief discussion with one of the demonstrators, but that neither had understood the other's argument. "They don't seem to appreciate that the City of London is an enormous driver of revenue for the Government," he said. Financial adviser Gideon Greenberg supported the group's right to protest, but thought their vilification of capitalism was simplistic. He said: "These people don't accept they have what they have because of capitalism," he said.
But not all the men in suits disagreed with the occupation. Chartered accountant Tim Sanders cut an incongruous figure as he railed against the financial "gambling houses that have bankrupted the world". "I want to show it's not the non-suits against the suits," he said.
Lawyer Justin Hudson said that he supported the protesters, adding: "I did wonder if I shouldn't have worn my suit."Reuse content