Douglas Alexander Chides St Paul's Over Occupy Protest

Douglas Alexander: St Paul's Cathedral Wrong To Close Its Doors On Protesters

St Paul's Cathedral was wrong to shut its doors as protesters camped out on its steps, the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said.

Mr Alexander said the job of the church was not just to "comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable", adding the demonstrators camping outside the cathedral were speaking to a "general unease" in the country.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine, standing in on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Alexander said he felt uneasy when the cathedral's authorities decided to close its doors.

He said: "I think the job of the church is not just to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable.

"Its calling through the ages has been to be a prophetic voice on issues of public morality and I think... what the protesters are doing in a very distinctive way, which many of us wouldn't ourselves engage in, is speak to a much deeper unease in society about the rules by which society is being run.

"Righteousness... the literal translation is 'right relationships', and I think most of us feel that the relationship between the very top of society and the rest of us is pretty broken at the moment.

"I think the protesters often have incoherent demands, a range of different interests.

"But I think the much more significant point is that they are speaking to a general unease, indeed a general anger, that I sense in my own constituency, indeed I sense in communities right across the country.

"In that sense, it is something of a distraction to talk about the people in the tents or the protesters. I think the issues they speak to are actually much more profound and much more widely held."

Earlier, Labour leader Ed Miliband, writing in The Observer, said the anti-capitalist protesters reflected a "crisis of concern" in mainstream Britain which must be addressed by politicians, the business community and the Church of England.


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