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Top Bank of England director admits Occupy movement had a point

Andrew Haldane praises ‘loud and persuasive’ protesters who succeeded because ‘they are right’
  • @_richardhall

The Occupy movement received vindication from unlikely source tonight, as a senior executive at the Bank of England credited it with stirring a “reformation of finance”.

In a glowing appraisal of the movement’s achievements, Andrew Haldane, executive director of financial stability, said Occupy protesters had been “both loud and persuasive”, and had attracted public support because “they are right”.

“Some have suggested … that Occupy’s voice has been loud but vague, long on problems, short on solutions. Others have argued that the fault-lines in the global financial system, which chasmed during the crisis, are essentially unaltered, that reform has failed,” Mr Haldane said in a speech tonight.

“I wish to argue that both are wrong – that Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and that policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines. In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.”

Speaking at an Occupy Economics event in central London, Mr Haldane said that Occupy had been “successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason: they are right.” He added that protesters who camped out near St Paul’s Catherdal in London and dozens of other cities including New York,“touched a moral nerve in pointing to growing inequities in the allocation of wealth”.

Mr Haldane ended with a direct appeal to activists to continue putting pressure on governments and regulators. He said: “You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change.”

Mr Haldane’s comments were welcomed by Occupy activists last night. Ronan McNern, a spokesman for Occupy London Stock Exchange, said: “It’s good to hear more voices like Mr Haldane’s coming through.  His comments are definitely welcome. They could have done something about this a lot faster.”

He added: “If this is a beginning, there is a long way to go. Banking reform is only part of the problem. It’s a system-wide issue where certain people are profiting of other people.”

Occupy protesters first descended on the London Stock Exchange on 15 October 2011, in a copy-cat demonstration of other protests around the world that called for action against economic inequality and corporate excess.

After being blocked from entering the main square in which the stock exchange was located, tents were set up in the church yard of St Paul’s – which led to friction between the church and campers.

The camp remained, however, until February of this year, when protesters were evicted by the City of London Corporation – the authority that runs the Square Mile.