Unbelievably there are people saying we shouldn’t politicise the Grenfell Tower fire. It would be an insult to the victims not to. This tragedy/ manslaughter happened BECAUSE of politics! Here are just a few of the events in the run up to the fire.
1) The government dismissed report for urgent review of safety regulation at Grenfell for 4 years – makes it political
Residents and the Grenfell Action Group spent years warning the govement of such a catastrophe. The government dismissed a report for 4 years by the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety & Rescue Group calling for an urgent review of safety regulation, after the previous Camberwell fire.
In October 2016 The Grenfell Action Group blogged;
“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO [The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation], and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.” Grenfell Action Group blog
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea responded with threats of legal action if they did not remove the blog.
2) Legal Aid cuts – makes it political
Legal Aid cuts meant Grenfell Action Group had no access to lawyers to push for the safety works.
“Cuts to legal aid are far worse than anticipated and are creating a “two-tier” system which denies the poorest people access to justice” Amnesty International
In a critical report Amnesty International urged the government to conduct an urgent review of the impact of the 2013 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (Laspo) Act. To date the government have still not looked at the report.
3) Government told residents building was fire safe and would not install sprinklers yet spent £8m on dangerous cladding so the building would not be an eyesore to the wealthy opposite – makes it political
No sprinklers, no fire alarms, gas pipes on the only staircase, no fire extinguishers. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea sent letters to residents advising to stay in flats in case of fire as the building was FIREPROOF.
Experts indicate one hour for a fire to move from one compartment to another in a fireproof building. Grenfell Tower entire 24 floors were ablaze in less than 15minutes. Anyone who lives in a council property knows maintenance is hit and miss despite tenant pressure and works are carried out by the cheapest – not safest tender by private companies. Reynobond provided the cladding which is alleged to be non fire resistant. Reynobond sells fire-resistant panels for £24 per square metre, a £2 increase on the standard version a mere additional £5000 in total.
The rapid spread of the fire is pointing towards substandard cheaper cladding. Government response to Grenfell Action Group; ‘sprinkler systems are not the government’s responsibility’.
4) Lack of response from Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – makes it political
The outpouring from local communities has been breathtaking. Youth and sports centres turned into relief centres with make shift beds, whilst the fire was still raging. Londoners and community groups brought food, clothing and supported the homeless as best they could. Yet the local council was no where to be seen. Families with young children have been sleeping in cars. Is there no official response to housing people in a crisis in the UK?
Should we expect the same lack of response of we are found homeless through a terrorist attack?
5) The Prime Minister refusing to meet with local residents – makes it political
To add an insult to injury Theresa May visited the site but refused to meet with any local residents and survivors whereas Jeremy Corbyn visited the relief shelters, offering support to residents and listening to their concerns. Instead Theresa May spurted a couple of disingenuous cliched sound bites on TV; “I’m deeply saddened” “lessons will be learned”. Her response has made the already distraught local people more angry and global criticism has accused Theresa May of having no compassion or humanity.
6) Theresa May claimed ‘security reasons’ for not visiting residents….yet the queen visited – makes it political
Miraculously the next morning it was announced that Theresa May would visit victims but only those in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (and probably too incapacitated to give her ‘what for) but still refused to meet with local residents unlike the queen who did!
But this is typical Theresa May style. She refused to partake in leaders debate where she would be asked questioned by other parties and the public. She would only address hand selected ‘rent a mobs’ during her election campaign or little tea shops in Tory strongholds where the most difficult question would be what her favourite biscuit was?
Not surprising given her atrocious policies on social care, the disabled, cuts to the NHS, to police, firefighter services, education and wanting to remove human rights as a when she pleased – which by the way was intended not at terrorists but at disabled people who were are going to the European Courts of Human Rights to appeal inhumane disability assessments.
7) Theresa May announcing a Public Inquiry rather than an Inquest – makes it political
There is fear of a whitewash with a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire as it will be Government-led therefore lacking the independence of an inquest. More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for an inquest to be held instead of a public inquiry.
Sophie Khan, the solicitor who represented bereaved relatives in the inquests following the Lakanal House fire said she believed;
“the sudden decision to call a public inquiry was a deliberate attempt to avoid close scrutiny of the various public bodies involved in the running and maintenance of Grenfell Tower.” Sophie Khan solicitor at Lakanal House fire
8) The Grenfell Tower fire – is political
Our Prime Minister has shown herself to be far from strong and stable but a heartless, feeble coward in every possible way. The poorest and most vulnerable in society are affected directly by government cuts and harsh social policy on a daily basis. It is not just something we think about when there is an election. This disaster would not have happened if the residents were rich.
“For the middle class the welfare state is just about schools and hospitals.. we need to live in a society where we care for the poorest and the vulnerable and that means housing” David Lammy MP
Let’s hope victims will not have to wait 20 years as those of Hillsborough did. Let’s hope they of receive justice and are compensated accordingly. Let’s hope survivors are rehoused locally and that the government will not split up families and disperse these traumatised people all over the country. A measure they have already been rolling out through social policy to gain prime London real estate for big business and the rich thus creating ghettos for the poor.
Finally let’s also not forget the Grenfell Tower fire happened in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – one of the richest places in the world. Let’s not forget this is Tory attitude to poor people in 2017 and after public outrage let’s hope they really do learn those ‘lessons’ they keep talking about. The government dismissed the Grenfell residents in life let’s make sure they don’t dismiss them in death by saying Grenfell Tower fire was not about politics.
Title image adapted from image by Evolve Politics