11 Days Remaining

Sunday 18th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

FURY is growing by the hour as the number of people killed in the Grenfell Tower inferno continues to mount.

Friday’s rally demanding justice for the victims symbolised the outrage felt across the entire country and a determination that more lives should not be lost as a result of callous indifference.

Theresa May hopes promises of a public inquiry will calm people down. Such an inquiry must go ahead, and as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn makes clear, legal aid must be made available to Grenfell residents to ensure their questions and demands are at the heart of it.

But for those whose loved ones have perished this is still not good enough.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid now says 4,000 tower blocks around Britain will receive emergency inspections starting this weekend.

Housing Minister Alok Sharma says the government is “almost ready” to begin a review into fire safety regulations — something it pledged to do four years ago in response to the coroner’s advice following the Lakanal House fire eight years ago.

How appalling that the Grenfell Action Group’s warning last November — that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord” — proved correct, and that only now are those in authority — reluctantly — acting.

Even so they cannot be trusted. And the bitter response met by May’s flunkey Andrea Leadsom, sent to speak to residents on her behalf since the Prime Minister neither cares about their suffering nor dares to face their anger, shows that people know they cannot be trusted.

Even as top Tories pretend to be shocked, we see a suspicious reluctance to reveal the full scale of the horror. People who have spoken to rescuers on the scene have been given figures of hundreds dead, far higher than the slowly rising official count.

Just a day after a minister promises on air that everyone who lost their home in the blaze will be rehoused in the local area, we find Kensington and Chelsea Council trying to wriggle out of that commitment and saying only that they will be accommodated somewhere in the capital — an unacceptable fudge given the number of properties lying empty in London’s richest borough.

It’s an added insult from a council whose leader, Nick Paget-Brown, claims sprinkler systems were not installed during the block’s £10 million refurbishment because locals didn’t want the “disturbance.”

Jeremy Corbyn’s demand that we requisition buildings left vacant by non-dom owners, who see a house as nothing more than a profitable asset on their investment portfolios, and use them to give a home to Grenfell residents must be implemented.

If the government hasn’t caved by the time Parliament returns next Wednesday it should be forced through then, and if locals act without officials’ say-so they can hardly be blamed.

Aside from direct action to counter the evasive and dithering response of the government and the council, this moment must mark a sea change in our politics.

What grime artist Saskilla has called the “mass murder” of the inhabitants of this Kensington tower block cannot be divorced from years of cuts to local authority budgets, fire brigade budgets, health budgets, and the Health and Safety Executive; years of rule by Tories whose aim, in the words of former prime minister David Cameron, was to “kill off health and safety culture for good” since taking basic precautions to save lives was such an unacceptable burden on business.

This fire exposes a country with the wrong priorities, lorded over by a worthless elite who have nothing to offer. Our government has no moral authority or legitimacy left. It has to go.