Public Eye ’shame award for Barclay’s Food speculations handed over succesfully. © Jess Hurd/WDM
It’s been the hot topic of conversation in the WDM office for last few weeks – the Barclays AGM. In preparation for the big day tomorrow we held a photo stunt at Barclays HQ to hand in the Public Eye ’shame award‘ that Barclays won earlier this year for its role in food speculation.
We met inside the Canary Wharf shopping centre already feeling nervous about any security presence as we had been informed that security goes into lockdown as soon as they catch even a glimpse of a banner or placard. Being careful not to draw too much attention to ourselves, we quickly changed into our glamorous evening wear and started to make our way towards the Barclays building. Despite the cold and struggling to walk in four inch heels (not something I do often!) we got some great shots from outside the Barclays offices. We also attracted some slightly bemused looks from office workers who seemed to find the photo shoot good entertainment for their morning cigarettes.
After finishing the photos came the moment of truth – could we get past security to hand in the award? As we approached the door, followed closely by our photographer Jess, the possibility of getting in seemed highly unlikely. Surprisingly we managed to breeze past security, whose only comment was to joke about the cold.
Speaking with one of the receptionists we explained that we were there to hand in an award to Barclays’ group chief executive, Bob Diamond. Our extravagant attire attracted more attention from Barclays employees who asked about the award and if it was a nice one, rather than a “you’re rubbish one”. Once reception had called up to Bob Diamond’s office and informed him the World Development Movement were there to present an award, we were surprised to hear that he was on his way down.
Unfortunately Mr Diamond must have had second thoughts on meeting us, as he sent down one of his staff instead. Mr Diamond’s helper greeted us with a warm smile and apologised for not being aware of the award. We quickly explained that it was for Barclays Capital’s irresponsible corporate behaviour as the UK’s lead player in food speculation. It is safe to say that his smile faded quickly as he begrudgingly accepted it.
All in all the day was a great success. We managed to draw attention to the bank’s involvement in speculation and the devastating impact this has on the world’s poorest communities through pushing up food prices. We can also assume that the stunt was enough to cause a stir in the higher echelons of Barclays Capital as Canary Wharf security stopped and questioned us as we were leaving the area.
Tomorrow is the bank’s AGM and we hope that this will be another opportunity to get our voice heard and start encouraging action on Barclays’ damaging speculative activity.
Barclays challenged at AGM over food speculation
from Miriam Ross, media officer
Shareholders attending the Barclays AGM in London on Friday were greeted by the World Development Movement’s two ‘evil eagle’ bankers on Barclays bikes as they entered the meeting, and our chants of ‘one two three four, Bank on hunger no more!’, and ‘speculation means starvation, what we need is regulation!’. Catchy, huh?
Our Barclays eagles were popular with the crowd of press photographers, and their pictures appeared in London’s Evening Standard that afternoon and most of the national papers the next day. As the AGM began, our policy officer Christine spoke live on the BBC News Channel about how speculation by banks like Barclays contributes to food price spikes.
Inside the meeting, Barclays’ CEO Bob Diamond was at pains to emphasise his call for banks to be ‘better citizens’. But two of our campaigners were there to challenge him, asking how Barclays could be a good citizen when its involvement in food speculation is fuelling hunger and poverty. Diamond’s response was to deny that Barclays speculates directly – but while it is unknown whether or not Barclays speculates on food with its own money, the bank certainly speculates on behalf of its clients, so his denial is meaningless.
We are calling on Chancellor George Osborne to back European proposals for tough regulation to curb speculation on food by banks like Barclays. Please support the campaign by emailing him now.
WDM is campaigning in solidarity with our allies in the global south to ensure the UK fairly pays the compensation it owes for causing climate change, instead of using it to reinforce existing global inequalities, by propping up the World Bank and forcing new loans onto developing countries.
We are calling on development secretary Andrew Mitchell to stop pushing climate loans on developing countries, loans that will only lock countries into new debt and increased poverty. The UK must end its support for the discredited, undemocratic and unaccountable World Bank, and instead support funds through more democratic institutions such as the UN Adaptation Fund. Finally, we are also calling that the UK uses new money, rather than diverting money from the aid budget as they are currently doing.
The UK’s World Bank climate funds are set to create hundreds of millions of pounds of new Third World Debt for some of the world’s poorest people. Take action with us to stop this outrage.
Order a free campaign pack with ideas of what you can do by emailing email@example.com.
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