Alistair is NOT the citizens’ Darling
August 25, 2012 by Grace Franklin
by Steven Dinnie
Two sets of protesters targeted Alistair Darling during his appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 24 August.
Citizens United Against Cuts made their stand within earshot of ex-Chancellor Darling while he was in public conversation with journalist James Naughtie about his latest book. The other protest, by pro-Scottish national campaigners was staged outside the venue in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
Police and site security were jumpy, but did not intervene in either case. Alistair Darling’s new book describes his time as Labour Chancellor during the financial meltdown. He is also the face of the Better Together pro-union campaign.
In a politically-charged evening, Citizens United Against Cuts, who have previously occupied various banks, including RBS and Band of England’s offices in Glasgow, disrupted the second half of Alistair Darling’s question and answer session. While the group’s leader, Sean Clerkin, loudly stated their case in the festival’s main courtyard, other members of the group held banners with slogans saying: “Close tax avoidance loopholes” and “Banksters must be prosecuted”.
Citizens United were thwarted in their original plan to gain entry to the session to challenge Alistair Darling directly. However, people exiting the event said the noise could be heard by Mr Darling inside. Despite repeated invitations to talk with the protestors, Mr. Darling did not do so. Bemused members of the public watched the protest, some cheering encouragement. others shouting retorts.
The other protest group had an ‘Abominable NO man’, as well as a very long banner. Mr. Darling declined to comment on either protest.
Members of Citizens United Against the Cuts said they were fighting for justice for ordinary people, who have been wronged by the bankers. They commented that “a casino banking culture is being propagated with a loss of benefits for working class people and bonuses only to rich bankers and politicians.” Members claimed they wanted to bring banks to justice by being charged with fraud.
Alistair Darling was at Festival to promote his book ‘Back From the Brink – 1,000 days at Number 11.’ The discussion with James Naughtie was in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sponsored tent. Several high-profile political guests were in attendance, including ministers of the Scottish Parliament. Sean Clerkin criticised the event for being sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. He pointed out that RBS is likely to be taken to court in the US in a continuation of the Libor interest fixing scandal. He also lambasted Alistair Darling’s book in which the former Chancellor describes saving Britain from economic collapse. The protesters wanted to alert Mr. Darling to the suffering of citizens because of cuts implemented on his watch in government and continued by the current Coalition administration.