I would like welcome back Occupy St Paul’s. Four members of the cause returned last night to remind us that it was not so long ago that the entire country was up in arms against the financial crisis, the politicians, the bankers, the financial institutions that had failed us and our very economic system.
Occupy St Paul’s changed that. They managed to get us all to focus on one issue, the right for the public to have access to an area just outside a church.
Until then we weren’t too sure whether the Church owned it or what sort of activities they could conduct on it, or approve.
This became quite important for us at St Matthews the other week as I tried to organise a camp to protest against the use of gift aid by higher rate taxpayers.
Last week I resigned as treasurer of the parish because people were refusing to disclose their earnings to me, or provide me with assurances that they weren’t filling in gift aid declarations with the intention of claiming an extension to their basic and higher rate bands and a reduction in net earnings for the purpose of abating their personal allowances.
Well, the vicar got quite upset with me, saying that I was scaring people off and it was none of my business what their personal tax positions were.
Needless to say, my position became untenable. This is another reason why the “tax avoidance is whack” meeting was poorly attended. A lot of the young folk had heard and not bothered to attend.
So, given the nature of the legal issue: protest camp outside a church, deterring entrance but not quite blocking the way, I knew that I could skip straight to the European Court of Justice and avoid excessive legal bills on my part.
However, the local police officers didn’t take my legal position very seriously and told me to go away.
And where were they when several youths stole my camping chair and urinated in my thermos flask?
They told me that I had been endangering myself and wasting their time, but I know that they had been paid off by some of the neoliberal parishioners to turn a blind eye.
Do I believe that Mrs Blake had really been mugged? I think not.
Despite the fact that I have now lost my appetite for protest camping, and chamomile tea thanks to the thermos prank, I offer my sincerest gratitude to Tammy Samede and other unnamed individuals for having set the legal battlefield for my aborted campaign.