UK: Archbishop of Canterbury gives backing to “Robin Hood tax” on banks

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sympathised with proposals for a “Robin Hood tax” on banks and admitted there is a widespread perception that society is paying for the “errors and irresponsibility” of financial institutions.

In an article for the Financial Times, Dr Rowan Williams aligned himself with the anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral by listing the tax as one of the specific measures that might advance their aims.

He made the comments following a day of high drama that saw the cathedral announce it would no longer be taking legal action against the demonstrators, who have been on the doorstep of the historic landmark for over a fortnight.

The City of London Corporation also said it would be “pausing” its legal bid to clear the encampment - but officials are expected to make a further announcement on the matter later today.

In his article, Dr Williams said the Occupy London Stock Exchange demonstration is an “expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment”.

He wrote: “There is still a powerful sense around - fair or not - of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of messages not getting through; of impatience with a return to ‘business as usual’ - represented by still soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices.”

He praised a document produced by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace last week, that supports a “Robin Hood” tax on share, bond and currency transactions.

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The campsite was set up on October 15 after activists organised on Facebook and gathered in the City to attempt an occupation of the London Stock Exchange in imitation of anti-capitalist protests on Wall Street.

When police cordoned off the entrances to the square where the Stock Exchange is located, protesters set up tents in front of the nearby cathedral instead.

The demonstration on October 15 was part of a worldwide day of action by anti-capitalists which led to violence in some cities, including Rome.