This Valentine’s weekend, Occupy Democracy will return to Parliament Square to mourn democracy’s death with a vigil for Nelson Mandela – while demonstrating love for real democracy

This Valentine’s weekend, Occupy Democracy will return to Parliament Square to mourn democracy’s death with a vigil for Nelson Mandela – while demonstrating love for real democracy

  • Occupy Democracy to stage Mandela Vigil for the Death of Democracy (coffin, ceremony and candles, photo op)
  • The fifth Occupation of Parliament Square will focus on Equality and Representation, at a time of galling inequality and under-representation.
  • Powerful speakers will address the unrepresentative nature of our democracy – including Sisters Uncut, Disabled People Against the Cuts, London Black Revs and more to be announced

Mandela Vigil for the Death of UK Democracy

With the country counting down to the general election, Occupy Democracy [1] returns to Parliament Square for its fifth occupation this Valentine’s weekend, continuing the campaign for democracy free from corporate control.

On Saturday 14th, demonstrators will conduct a symbolic funeral procession and vigil beside the statue of Nelson Mandela, marking the death of the UK’s democracy

This follows Occupy Democracy’s experience of aggressive and disproportionate policing tactics [2] deployed at previous Parliament Square occupations, which saw Nelson Mandela’s statue fenced off, symbolically placing Mandela behind bars again.

A coffin symbolising Britain’s murdered democracy will be placed in a position of honour in front of Winston Churchill’s Statue at 2.30pm. At 5.30pm it will be taken in procession around ‘Tarpaulin Square’ to the statue of Nelson Mandela where a rally and vigil will be held.

Occupy supporter Donnachadh McCarthy, former Liberal Democrat vice-chair and author of “The Prostitute State – how Britain’s democracy has been bought” said: “Britain’s democracy has been killed by a corporate clique of billionaires and extreme right-wing media moguls. No matter who we vote for the corporate lobbyists win.” He added, “This peaceful non-violent vigil will take inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s struggle for democracy, to relight its flame in the UK, for the sake of social and ecological justice for the 100% and not just the 1%.”

Equality and Representation
This collapse of democracy is echoed in statistics showing a dire discrepancy between those within parliament and the population they are supposed to represent. For this reason, February’s occupation focuses on the absence of equality and representation in parliament, which has contributed to the death of democracy in the UK. Here are the facts:

  • Only 22% of the House of Commons are women [3]
  • Only 4% are from ethnic minorities [4]
  • 62% of the total are white men aged over 40 [5]
  • Over 33% attended private schools (including 20 Old Etonians) compared to 7% of the population as a whole [6]
  • MPs earn at least £67,000 before expenses and second jobs are taken into account, putting them immediately in the top 5% of wage earners in this country [7]

It is clear that MPs are a priveleged elite rather than a cross-section of ordinary people. Therefore they have no understanding of the pain and misery their policies inflict on the population in general, and our poor and vulnerable in particular. Furthermore, parliamentarians often have a direct financial interest in supporting policies that are against the public interest. For example:

  • A third of MPs are buy-to-rent landlords [8]
  • 206 parliamentarians have recent or present financial private healthcare connections and 142 Lords have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in private healthcare [9]
  • 27 of the 59 wealthiest hedge fund managers have donated more than £19 million to the Conservative Party [10]
  • 46% of the top 50 traded companies in the UK have a British parliamentarian as either a director or shareholder – six times the Western European average [11]

It’s no wonder that over 50% of Britons think MPs put their own interests first, that 72% don’t trust them to tell the truth and 65% think that at least half of MPs use their power for personal gain [12].

Frances Scott from campaigning group 50:50 Parliament who will speaking at the occupation said: “There have only ever been 370 women MPs, so with men having 502 seats right now, there are more men in the House of Commons than there have ever been women. The Mother of Parliaments needs modernising, it’s a democratic imperative.”

Educator and Occupy Democracy supporter Jamie Kelsey said: “Parliamentarians do not represent the people and instead, represent corporate interests first and foremost [13] [14]. By next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%. All major parties in this election are here to keep the “neo-liberal” gravy train running for the 1%.” [15]

To highlight these failures in equality and representation, Occupy Democracy will host talks by leading activists from Sisters Uncut, Disabled People Against The Cuts, London Black Revs and 50:50 Parliament, who will be leading discussions and workshops on the lack of representation with regard to gender, race and ability.

Notes for editors:
[1] #OccupyDemocracy (https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/) was formed in March as a working group of Occupy London (http://occupylondon.org.uk/) to build a social movement for genuine democracy that is free from corporate influence. #OccupyDemocracy’s three occupations of Parliament Square to date have attracted hundreds of people including prominent figures such as Russell Brand, Ken Loach, Vivienne Westwood and Jolyon Rubinstein; politicians such as Caroline Lucas MP, John McDonnell MP, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jenny Jones and Michael Meacher MP; and representatives of dozens of civil society organisations who, in turn represent millions of people who have little voice in our democracy, including: Friends of the Earth, UK Uncut, World Development Movement, War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and numerous others. Working by consensus decision-making, #occupydemocracy has a safer spaces policy and is dedicated to non-violence. Our draft “demands” list can be read here: https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/2014/10/28/occupy-democracy-current-demands-list/
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/03/boris-johnson-occupy-democracy-london-protest-fence?CMP=share_btn_fb
[3][4][5] http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-for-the-new-parliament/the-new-parliament/characteristics-of-the-new-house-of-commons/
[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31140623
[7] http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps/
[8] http://www.newstatesman.com/economics/2014/02/what-hope-there-generation-rent-when-third-mps-are-buy-let-landlords
[9] http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/p/key-facts-of-lords-and-mps-connections.html
[10] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/05/conservatives-bankrolled-hedge-fund-managers?CMP=share_btn_tw)
[11] Figure 7: https://democraticaudituk.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/exec-summary.pdf
[12] https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/June2013_Trust_Topline.pdf
[13] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/22/stephen-byers-editorial
[14] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17503116
[15] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s