Seventeen months after they began their occupation of St Paul’s, members of the Occupy movement were celebrating today after a candidate linked to their campaign was elected to the executive council of the City of London Corporation.
Far from being a stereotype of an anti-capitalist activist, Patrick Streeter is a self-confessed “Old Harrovian, red sock-wearing accountant”.
Speaking to The Independent, Mr Streeter said he was determined to use his position to be a force for change within the corporation, whose lack of transparency was exposed during the Occupy protests.
The first priority, he said, was to use his new-found power to force the secretive organisation, which acts both as a private entity and as the local authority for the City, to publish all of its financial information. “It is realistic to say that it can be done in the next few years, they used to publish it a few decades ago,” he said.
And he added: “There are already noises coming from within the City of London Corporation to that effect, so maybe we are not that far off.”
Mr Streeter, who is a chartered accountant, was elected to the City of London’s Court of Common Council in what was described as the most hotly-contested election the centuries-old organisation has seen in recent times. He is a member of the Liberal Democrats but, as is the custom, stood for election to the Common Council as an independent.
He says he believes that, if they do not play party politics, the common councillors – elected by a combination of local residents and businesses – can achieve more. He is a signatory to the seven pledges drafted by the Occupy-linked City Reform Group, whose members include the Conservative MP David Davis and the former Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Giles Fraser. He was the only one of their 21 candidates to be elected.
“I have always felt that the City needs reform and you have to be elected to make any difference,” said Mr Streeter, 66, who has worked within the Square Mile for most of his life.
Asked whether his background and profile are unusual for someone who is a member of such a radical group, which also includes some of those formerly camped on the steps of St Paul’s cathedral, he replied: “It is just a bit of froth but, in politics, people have to know who you are.”
This is not his first time within the Corporation, having previously served on its audit committee, where he said he refused to sign off an audit report. “They are very clandestine. But there is a head of steam building up about City reform,” he added.