Published: 20 October 2011
by RICHARD OSLEY
DEMONSTRATORS “occupying” the City were pooh-poohed by Labour Party heavyweights during a three-musketeer visit to Camden Town on Monday.
Labour leader Ed Miliband was joined by shadow chancellor Ed Balls and mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone for a meeting with businesses and young people looking for work.
They used the occasion to promote suggestions for an economic recovery plan, including a temporary cut in VAT.
Mr Miliband told people searching for work during the downturn that they should always “keep hope and determination”.
The politicians praised businesses that were working together in Camden Town to shield themselves from the recession and hailed Camden Jobtrain, the centre in Kentish Town which helps people train for work.
But Mr Miliband said he did not agree with young people who took their grievances about the lack of opportunities to the protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in the United States, protesters have been camped as close as they can get to the London Stock Exchange since the weekend.
He said: “I am not in favour of that – I’m in favour of democracy, showing that democracy can work and that it can change things.
We have a council in Camden totally committed to the people and businesses in the area, and now we need a mayor who is just as committed and a government who can bring that change.”
He was speaking after the meeting at Collective, a converted loftspace in Camden High Street run by Camden Town Unlimited, the business interests group.
The “Occupy London” protest mirrors demonstrations across the world responding to the banking crisis.
Mr Livingstone, the former mayor who will try to win his old job back from Boris Johnson at next May’s London Assembly elections, said: “I wouldn’t occupy the streets.
It’s just not something I would do and I’m not going to tell people to do something I wouldn’t do myself.
I’ve been frustrated by government policies all my life but it’s more important to get changes in the government.
I’d say it would be better to get involved, join the Labour Party.
You could occupy the London Stock Exchange for the next four years but if you don’t get a Labour government nothing is going to change.”
To young people struggling to find work, he warned: “What you must never do is start watching daytime TV.”
He added: “You can’t have two years of no work or no training. You must keep on at it until the tide turns.”