I visited the tent protest at St Paul’s this morning. The first thing that strikes you is that it is a re-markedly peaceful protest - almost serene (perhaps worryingly so given the widespread use of Guy Fawkes masks to preserve anonymity at protests the feeling echoes some of the key scenes in “V for Vendetta”). The relaxed atmosphere is complemented by a feeling that the many visitors are supportive although some of the international visitors seemed to think that this was ‘normal for London’.
The story about health and safety concerns closing the cathedral is interesting - there seems to be a sense of conscientiousness - it does not smell like an open sewer but rather that a large group of people have moved in with the intention to stay. If there is any danger it is probably a trip hazard.
The low key presence of authority is nonetheless evident - there was a council official noting down the contact details of the flyers and posters on the pillars around the tents and the police were there around the edges (with a concerned member of the public having a rant at them that all of the protesters should be shot).
Many of the posters prove that it is possible to be a socialist (or anarchist or punk or anarcho-syndicalist or …) and still have a sense of humour.
The oddest part of all this is that the Starbucks and M&S Simply Food are still happily trading on the edges of the tent city (although the clientele don’t appear to be the immediate neighbours).