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Occupy activists attempt to take over Davos debate

Movement tries to stage its own debate on ‘remodelling capitalism’ at World Economic Forum venue

Activists from the Occupy movement attempted to disrupt a debate in Davos attended by the Labour party leader, Ed Miliband, calling on him and the other delegates to leave the stage and join them on the floor of the packed debate on “remodelling capitalism”.

The event, which was open to the public as part of a 10-year programme by the organisers of the World Economic Forum to engage with a wider audience, was eventually brought back under control when other public participants refused to support the efforts of Occupy activists.

Eyewitnesses said about 30 activists had strategically placed themselves in the large auditorium in the local Swiss Alpine High School and had attempted to conduct the debate on their own terms.

A representative of Occupy – who started the proceedings and gave her name only as Maria – had already been scheduled to take part in the debate, in which Juan Somavía, director general of the International Labour Organisation, was also a speaker.

After the event Miliband told the Guardian: “Occupy wanted us to do the debate in a different way.”

But, he said, they had been outnumbered by other members of the public. He had argued: “This is a big moment of opportunity. There are real opportunities to show there are solutions that can be moved forward. I understand why people are angry.”

The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, who chaired the debate said: “Eventually the will of the audience prevailed and we had a good, productive discussion.”

The Occupy protesters have set up a camp of igloos in this Swiss Alpine resort attended by prime ministers, central bankers, business people and charitable organisations from across the globe. Earlier on Friday a number of them had attempted to gain entry to the high security venue where the major events are held and Klaus Schwab, the septuagenarian who founded the WEF, has offered to meet them on Saturday. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds