Thursday, July 06, 2017

Because of Grenfell this government must go

Its not because it is directly responsible for the tragedy – it clearly isn’t. Its not because the now Foreign Secretary decimated London fire services when he was Mayor. The firefighters could not have done more to prevent the towering inferno and its doubtful a more substantial number of firefighters would have resulted in a significantly different outcome. Its not because the vicious cuts to public services meant that inspections were less frequent or thorough.

However critical we are of the current government this might have happened under a previous Labour government. Yet I do believe there will be attempts to shift blame away from central government and we are well aware that party affiliation doesn’t save you from being thrown under the bus – the Conservative Parliamentary Party would gladly sacrifice lesser Tories in order to retain power.

While there is plenty of blame to be attributed to political and business figures it is possible that a Tory government could mitigate some of its excesses and introduce legislation to make another tragedy of this kind less likely. But I’m not talking about blame or even competence (though the current shower on the Tory front bench look ill equipped to organise a village fete). Not even the tardy and hollow response of Tory ministers, particularly the Prime Minister, in the face of a human and national tragedy, persuades me to put forward this proposal.

Its the response of the Grenfell survivors that persuades me. Their reluctance to accept offers of temporary accommodation speaks of insecurity and lack of trust. They have no reason to believe that any established authority can be taken at its word. They were not listened to when they predicted the disaster; why should they believe anything has changed? Their distrust is well founded and reasonable. Even though their current accommodation is temporary in the extreme and entirely unsuitable, even in the midterm, to refuse what they have been offered means that they maintain some level of control however absurd it might appear.

Anyone who has suffered a crushing loss knows that putting things right doesn’t get to the heart of our human needs. In your darkest hour you need someone who listens and understands but I am convinced that a Tory government can’t understand what the recent tragedy means to the residents of Grenfell. It has no concept of living in a free society where you have no voice, no power and very little means of controlling your life. Its a paradigm alien to the Tory mindset. When thousands take to the streets to protest cuts to public services, the monetisation of health and justice and the ravages of austerity, its response is to point the finger and call us irresponsible.

This government has overseen the destruction and dismantling of our NHS, the erosion of living standards of working people, the decimation of public services, callous and immoral sanctions of the most vulnerable in our society and, at the same time, empowered and enriched those with most wealth and power. It has no moral capital or integrity and has proved where its interests lie.

Grenfell is beyond political but its blackened husk is symbolic of a political establishment that has been completely de-oxygenated and is no longer fit for purpose either practically or morally.