PUBLIC confidence in the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry would be enhanced by Theresa May’s acceptance of Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to broaden it.
Disaster survivors and local residents have made clear their disquiet over the restrictive approach set out by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
They are not interested in a probe that restricts itself to establishing where the fire started, how it spread and what fire-safety shortcomings there were in the building before concluding what a shame it was, offering condolences to bereaved families and hoping that lessons will be learned to prevent similar tragedies.
Such a scenario would be viewed by those involved most closely as an Establishment whitewash. They would be right.
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s description of the fire and the huge loss of life as “social murder” has upset Tory politicians, but his righteous anger reflects the seething fury of poor people in Britain’s richest borough who believe that those in power regard them as expendable.
North Kensington residents know that a small domestic fire in a single flat in a high-rise block should not culminate in a towering inferno in which at least 80 people — possibly over 120 — perish.
They want to know why that happened. Not simply how did one tragic circumstance develop into another but who took the decisions that put their lives in the balance and why.
The dominant suspicion is that Tory-Liberal Democrat capitalist austerity agenda that slashed government block grants to local councils, fire and rescue authorities and other public bodies played a role.
In addition, the allegation that Kensington and Chelsea Council has sought to economise on provisions for the borough’s poor people while handing the richest council-tax payers a refund must be examined.
Retired judge Moore-Bick made the mistake during his meetings with the local community of trying to convince them that his experience and professionalism would enable him to carry out his brief.
His audience was looking for something more — an awareness of how they live and empathy with what they want. They were not there to be patronised.
The Prime Minister has referred Corbyn’s letter to the inquiry chairman although, since she set it up, she could have shown leadership for a change by signifying support for the Labour leader’s proposal.
Inquiry chairman Moore-Bick should take this on board as a matter of urgency.
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond, who has been targeted by a whispering campaign from within the Cabinet over suspicions that he intends to scupper Britain’s exit from the European Union, is very upset with his colleagues.
He has told Miss and she’s going to have a stern word with the whole class at today’s Cabinet meeting, threatening them with detention or lines.
Hammond’s prime weakness, among many, is that he knows that, but for Theresa May failing to get the resounding majority she expected in last month’s general election, he would have been shipped out of No 10 already.
Her weakness means that he holds onto his job, but, unfortunately for him, so do all the whisperers.
May can be expected to issue a resounding call to her troops today to concentrate on their own responsibilities and keep schtum about Cabinet discussions and, shortly thereafter, “sources” will brief journalists from across the board as to what took place.
Prime ministerial authority has evaporated and the sooner May takes the hint and walks the better.