St Paul's camp gives cautious welcome to political support


Demonstrators outside St Paul's Cathedral cautiously welcomed the leader of the opposition's support yesterday, but said the camp should stay independent of party politics.

Ed Miliband's suggestion that politicians are reacting to the protest came as cathedral officials said they would release a report into banking ethics today. Organisers of the Occupy London camp also announced they would help to ensure a "dignified" Remembrance Sunday service at the cathedral with no interruptions.

Speaking about Mr Miliband's intervention, one protester, Colin Soder-Williams, said: "It is good but Labour needs to do better. It is the party of the people and they need to think about taxes and wealth distribution."

Another, John Bywater, said: "It is good to get support and recognition but there is an obvious contradiction between the Parliamentary system and what is happening here at the camp."

But one, called Ben, said: "There is a distrust of the main political parties. He is just supporting a cause which is popular. Why didn't he say anything before?"

Mr Miliband's emergence as a supporter came as Occupy London scotched rumours that it would interfere with Remembrance events for veterans at the cathedral this week.

A camp spokesman said: "Most of the public support the ideals we are standing for, there is no mistaking that. But opponents are trying to chip away at the perception we can behave responsibly and make sensible decisions."

He claimed the camp was "united" about being respectful on Remembrance Sunday. "We do not approve of anyone making political capital out of Remembrance Sunday. We will respect everyone and the silence," he said.

"We will take a back seat and make sure the camp is clean, dignified and beautiful. We are not looking to compete with it or upstage [the proceedings]."

Today, a report into bankers' greed will be released by St Paul's Institute – a cathedral working group. The study, carried out by market research company ComRes, questioned bankers on the ethics of their salaries and bonuses. It will reveal some bankers believe they were overpaid compared with other professions.

The report comes amid calls from a senior former banker for better business ethics. Ken Costa, a former head of Lazards International, said maximising shareholder returns should no longer be the "sole criteria" for judging how a company is run.

"The present duty, on all boards to maximise shareholder value as the sole criteria for satisfying the return to shareholders, cannot continue," he said.

"I am aware that this is a big change that will need detailed discussion, but we need to start with big ideas."

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