Cable backs St Paul’s protest as relationship with church grows closer

By Ian Dunt

Vince Cable has joined the ranks of politicians expressing sympathy with the St Paul's protesters, as the movement's relationship with the church grows warmer.

The business secretary said he sympathised with the "emotions" that lie behind the camp.

"Some of their recommendations aren't terribly helpful, but that's not the point," he told the BBC.

"I think it does reflect a feeling that a small number of people have done extraordinarily well in the crisis, often undeservedly, and large numbers of other people who've played no part in causing the crisis have been hurt by it."

The remarks place Mr Cable much closer to Ed Miliband – who said that "only the most reckless" would ignore the protest – that David Cameron.

Speaking to the liaison committee, the prime minister suggested the protesters were often "comatose".

"The idea of establishing tents in the middle of our city, I don't feel is particularly constructive," he said.

"Protesting is something you, on the whole, should do on two feet, rather than lying down."

The remarks come as the church tried to put its previous panic attack over the protest behind it, with the canon in residence of St Paul's, Rt Rev Michael Colclough, blessing the demonstration yesterday.

Despite moving on from the church resignations which followed the establishment of the camp, St Paul's is still trying to delicately manage a potentially volatile situation.

Just minutes before blessing the protest, Rev Colclough blessed the 684th lord mayor on the south side of the cathedral – the first time for 800 years that the event did not take place on the steps.

Protesters have demanded that the City of London Corporation, which is presided over by the lord mayor, make itself open to freedom of information requests and introduce greater transparency to its operations.

Iin a sign that the church was increasingly confident in associating itself with the Occupy movement, Rev Colcough told protesters: "People have camped around the cathedral over the past three weeks expressing concern for the poor and for a better distribution of the treasures in the world. That concern is something that we share within the church."

He then prayed for a "better sharing of the rich resources that we have in the world".

The Occupy protesters are keeping a low profile this weekend, as they make sure there is no disruption to Remembrance Day due to their presence.

The Observer reported this morning that 15 former service personnel have now joined the camp – an interesting expansion of the type of people actively supporting the protesters.