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We need urgent action but not anarchy

As we all saw on our TV screens there were ugly scenes outside the Bank of England last week as angry G20 protestors clashed with police, causing serious disruption and damage in the City of London.

Some of the 5,000-odd demonstrators were carrying effigies of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and dummies representing bankers. About 100 arrests took place and one unfortunate individual lost his life.

The strength of public sentiment surrounding last week’s meeting of the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries should not be underestimated.

Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin was recently on the receiving end of this bad feeling, with yobs north of the border trashing his Morningside mansion a couple of weeks ago.

Surprisingly, despite obvious growing public discontent surrounding the firm, RBS did not bother to lock down all its branches in the Square Mile last week and masked anarchists were able to storm one building as the demonstrations turned violent.

It’s understandable that people are angry. Thousands of jobs are being axed every week and Joe Public must find it hard to understand why this is happening – how a few hundred Mexicans handing back the keys to their properties in California should result in factories and businesses the length and breadth of the UK cutting back on production or even closing their doors forever.

But I have to wonder – why were these people protesting? The financial markets and the world economy continue to face serious challenges and the severity of the crisis along with ongoing economic uncertainty clearly demonstrate the need for urgent action, but not anarchy.

Surely, if these tree-hugging loonies want some kind of return to normality they should have been willing the G20 representatives to tackle the crisis head on, restore worldwide financial stability, lead the economic recovery and secure a sustainable future for all countries, not shouting them down at the first opportunity.

But then that wouldn’t be cool and trendy and they might have to get a job. And that’s not going to happen when the idea of smoking marijuana and not getting up in the morning is all too appealing. Some revolution.

Meanwhile, the summit itself resembled a sort of Challenge Anneka of international diplomacy with frantic efforts to foster sustainable economic growth and development by mutual agreement. All that was missing was Prime Minister Gordon Brown hopping around in a pink jump suit. But there was a measure of consensus and hopefully what emerged last week will help kick-start the global economy.

This is just the beginning, with countless details yet to be finalised, but it seems at least the foundations of sustainable recovery have been laid. The reaction of the financial markets this week will show if Brown has been able to inject the oxygen of confidence into the economy. Let’s hope he got it right this time.


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