Britain's Occupy movement picks up steam

An Occupy-flavoured gathering of the tribes is underway in London, as Occupiers from across the country converge on London, where an abandoned building belonging to UBS has been liberated for a symposium where they're planning the nation's future.

The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, 70, became the latest high-profile supporter to address protesters on Saturday, on the steps of St Paul's. She said that the global financial crisis was intrinsically linked to the world's ecological travails, and called for people to embrace culture as a means to help wean them "off the drug of consumerism".

Her appearance followed a speech from Alessio Rastani, an independent financial trader, who has warned that "the savings of millions of people are going to vanish" and that investment banks had become more powerful than governments. His warnings were followed by an address from Nicholas Shaxson, the author of Treasure Islands, an investigation into tax havens and offshore banking networks. Occupy's critique of the financial system and its calls for a fairer replacement will continue next week with speeches at the TUC Conference Hall in central London, a sign that unions may be starting to form official alliances with the movement.

Unions are finalising plans for a day of industrial action against public-sector pensions cuts on 30 November.

Tanya Paton of Occupy London said: "Groups are coming together for the first time; the movement is becoming stronger throughout the UK. We are sharing ways to overcome problems and work together to build and define a national campaign."

Occupy UK converges on London

(Image: UBS You Owe US – Occupy London, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aroberts's photostream)