The sight of protesters in tents popping up in the city centre will inspire some but bemuse many. In an age of much apathy, there’s something encouraging about the fact that the mixed bunch camping in St Andrew Square are prepared to live rough to make their voices heard.
And the local protest is part of a global movement, with similar and much larger camps appearing all over the world – most notoriously in Glasgow, where one woman was raped, and at St Paul’s in London.
There’s no obvious leadership, nor any particularly coherent message - just a vague anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation theme. Worthy, perhaps. But also a little naive to most of us.
You just have to read the words of some of Edinburgh’s protesters (though we wonder how many of them come from the city) to realise that –“something must be done” “we’re here for as long as it takes”. It’s hardly a manifesto for change.
For the moment, the protest camp is welcome to stay. We in Edinburgh are more used than most cities to colourful sideshows. And like our festival guests they deserve to be treated with respect, and certainly not threatened by drunks and others.
That will change if they themselves don’t continue to act appropriately. As with the G8 protesters, any violence or unlawfulness should be stamped on by the authorities. But for the moment we should let these people have their protest. Once they articulate what they are protesting on, and what they want done about it, we will be able to judge the merits of their case.
It’s the ideal gift
For thousands of bargain-hunters – and retailers – it is the perfect Christmas present. We confirm today that the long, long-awaited Primark store will open on Princes Street on December 10.
Despite fears to the contrary, the retail giant is set to win its race against time to transform the sprawling store in time for the festive rush – a move that offers a welcome shot in the arm for Edinburgh’s main shopping street. Experience elsewhere suggests the opening of a flagship Primark draws enough shoppers into the immediate area to rejuvenate the surrounding streets.
Seeing that happen in Edinburgh would finally be something concrete to show for the council’s “string of pearls” vision of a Princes Street boasting a series of “star attractions” in each separate block.
We welcome the opening, and hope it is the first of many exciting developments on Princes Street. Just don’t expect it to completely halt the exodus of shoppers to out-of-town retail parks . . . Primark is also opening at The Centre in Livingston in time for Christmas and is developing another store at the Gyle.