London in biggest security operation since WW2
ANTI-CAPITALISTS will focus their anger on financial giants such as the Royal Bank of Scotland today, as London prepares for its biggest security operation since the Second World War.
Protesters are setting their sights on banks for a demonstration against the greed of directors in the run-up to the G20 summit.
As part of an operation nicknamed "Glencoe", the Metropolitan Police will use 3,000 surveillance cameras.
All police leave has been cancelled in the capital and a 26-mile air exclusion zone has been imposed around the site of the summit conference, the Excel centre, in east London.
Police have checked social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter for what will very much be an electronically co-ordinated protest.
City workers have been told to "dress down"and security staff have been urged to check identities outside buildings.
Amid predictions of chaos, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, made clear he would not allow the summit to be hijacked. "No violence can be tolerated, no intimidation of people is allowed, and the police will act very quickly if there is any threat to property or people," he said.
"Most people who are making their views known are wanting to do so in a peaceful way. After all, people are talking about jobs, about protecting the environment and helping the poorest countries."
A retired senior police officer, who has experience of mass security operations, told The Scotsman: "This will be the most incendiary situation since wartime. It will be a volatile situation, with all the ingredients for the perfect storm.
"You have the leaders of the world's biggest economies together in London when many believe capitalism has failed."
He warned if the protests turned into a full-scale riot, the Met would be in trouble. UK police do not have military-style structures seen in France, Italy and Spain, he said, and this was a disadvantage "if the protests turn into extreme violence".
On top of the physical threat, financial institutions have been warned they could face technical attack today, via the internet.
Experts said activists could attack the computer infrastructure of companies. They said flooding in-boxes with thousands of e-mails or unleashing viruses could cost firms huge sums in lost working time.
Today, the so-called G20 Meltdown movement will converge on the Bank of England through four marches, known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It has been reported that anarchists plan to infiltrate peaceful demonstrations and use these as cover to storm banks.
One financial institution targeted, on a map entitled "Squaring up to the Square Mile", is RBS.
Campaigners warn: "A system that wreaks destruction everywhere must be resisted everywhere. The Square Mile is the place to start".
RBS plans to shut a number of central London branches to protect staff today.
Meanwhile, its Edinburgh offices are expected to be targeted in a separate protest on Friday, when the bank holds its annual meeting. Campaigners from the "People & Planet" group will target the bank to highlight its "unethical" investment in pollution-causing companies.
Bronwyn Smith-Thomas, a spokeswoman for the group, said the protest would be separate from the G20 demonstrations.
"We believe in non-violent protests. How you define direct action is for different people to determine," she said. She conceded there could be more demonstrators than usual outside the meeting because of anger at RBS's corporate culture but said: "We hope people are there because they are concerned about climate change."
The group said RBS was one of the largest UK investors in oil, coal and gas projects. RBS is much more likely to be fearful about the G20 protests in London, however. A spokeswoman for the bank said yesterday: "The safety of our staff and customers is of paramount importance and we have taken the precaution of closing selected London branches tomorrow."
Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, said: "There's always a danger a small amount of violent people will try and hijack this. I really hope we don't have any of that."
The Liberal Democrats are to monitor the policing of G20 protests. David Howarth, their justice spokesman, said he hoped there would be no repeat of the "heavy-handed" policing of protests at Kingsnorth power station in Kent last year. He said: "I was encouraged to hear the Metropolitan Police talking seriously about proportionality. I hope rights of protesters to make their important point peacefully will be fully respected."
Brown likely to win some, lose some
WORLD leaders will strike a global deal on bankers' pay and bonuses at the G20 summit, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, vowed yesterday.
He said a deal on the remuneration of bankers would be agreed when the leaders of the most powerful economies gather in London tomorrow.
His optimism on that is in stark contrast to mounting doubts that politicians will reach agreement on spending packages favoured by Britain and the United States.
In a speech at St Paul's Cathedral in London, the Prime Minister defended the bail-out of banks, saying it was necessary to protect savings and deposits and was not a "something-for-nothing exercise".
He said: "You will find on Thursday at the G20 that, for the first time ever, the world economies will agree international rules for the remuneration of bankers.
"Just as we are eliminating tax havens, we are trying to eliminate these bad practices by insisting that there are global rules and not simply rules that apply to one country that can be undermined in the next."
But hopes of a deal on fiscal stimulus, or enhanced spending, packages were fading, as other European leaders called for more emphasis on regulation instead.
France has threatened to walk away from the G20 without signing the communiqu if it does not get what it wants.
Christine Lagarde, its economy minister, spelled out what her country would do if the summit did not satisfy French demands. "President Sarkozy was very clear on that front. He said if the deliverables are not there, I won't sign the communiqu," she said.
But Mr Brown's spokesman played down any possibility of tensions, saying: "The Prime Minister had a very constructive conversation with the president yesterday (Monday] and he looks forward to his full participation in the summit."
Meanwhile, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, called for "concrete conclusions" on financial market reform.
Both she and Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, have made clear that more meetings will be necessary.
THE crammed official agenda of world leaders in the next few days contains the following highlights:
• 9am today: Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and Barack Obama, the US president, are due to talks at Downing Street, followed by joint press conference.
• Barack and Michelle Obama invited to Buckingham Palace for private audience with the Queen.
• 4pm today: All G20 leaders and their spouses invited to Buckingham Palace for reception.
• 8.30pm: Working dinner for G20 leaders at Downing Street. Meal cooked by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Finance ministers and central bankers have dinner at Tate Britain.
• 7am tomorrow: World leaders begin to gather at ExCeL conference centre in east London for main summit.
• 9.30am Official group photograph
• 9.50am Plenary session begins. Second one in afternoon.
• 3.30pm Press conferences held to mark the end of the summit.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
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Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
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