Mark Steel: As Jesus said, they were ruining it for the tourists

March 3, 2012
Occupy London camp at St Paul's Cathedral, before the police eviction on February 28.

At last, the police have become efficient. They may have stumbled slightly with their investigation of News International, but they haven't made the same mistake with the people sitting around by St Paul's.

Last year, presumably, if they'd been asked to evict Occupy London protests who camped at St Paul's Cathedral, they'd have written a report saying: "We have left no stone unturned in pursuing the occupiers, but after driving round the cathedral hundreds of times we have no evidence of any tents anywhere, or, indeed, of any cathedral."

Some people have suggested the Occupy movement should have used different tactics to advance its cause, and that must be true. Clearly, they should have taken the head of the riot police to lunch regularly, and, just as the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police stayed at a health spa promoted by a former News of the World journalist, the occupiers should have said to the current Commissioner: "You pick whichever tent you like, sir, and make yourself at home."

Maybe it's the serious threat posed by people sitting in tents on a stretch of concrete that motivated the police to act so decisively. If, for example, one of those banners made out of tea towels had exploded, it could have caused a major disaster. And none of the occupiers seem to have paused to consider the feelings of the concrete.

So now we can expect a much more pro-active police force, imposing the law as it's meant to. Within hours, they police'll be bursting through the doors of companies the HMRC revealed recently were £25 billion behind in paying tax, to yell "we are evicting this site, leave immediately" through a megaphone, while a hedge fund manager screams "it's my basic human right to put my bonus in the Cayman Islands" from the top of a bus shelter.

Then newspaper editorials can assure us that these uncouth tax-dodgers can't complain as we've been very liberal, allowing them to foul up the City of London for a long time, but they've made their point and should move on, as we don't want them making the place look filthy with the Olympics coming up.

The other institution that's learned to be more businesslike is the church, assisting the process of eviction efficiently and without fuss, just as Jesus would have done.

Because if there's one story from the Bible we all remember it's where Jesus addresses the poor by saying: "GET OUT. How can ANYONE see the temple with you in the way? And have you even considered the damage you're doing to the Galilee tourist industry?"

Then there's the passage in Matthew: "The King will say to the poor, 'Come, my Father's blessed ones, receive your inheritance of the Kingdom which has been divinely intended for you ever since the creation of the world. For when I was hungry, you gave me food'".

Like much of the Bible, this can be interpreted in many ways, but probably meant: "Piss off, you stinky scum, or you're all under arrest."

[This article first appeard in the Independent. Read more articles by Mark Steel.]

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