May-be The P.M. Will Now Heed The Wakening Call
In a way, I do feel sympathy towards Mrs. May. One week she's told in the clearest way by the electorate (other than the pensioners) that she and her Party are not wanted, and the next week she has the consequences of the most horrible of disasters to face: Grenfell Tower.
But the sympathy ebbs away when I think of how the Tory Party has treated the poor over this past seven years, the bedroom tax (when few other homes were available) being one of the most outstandingly divisive policies to mention. And now it is clear that someone was trying to cut corners in the recent refurbishment of Grenfell. A mere £6,250 extra would have made the property much safer (still probably not good enough though), but someone did not think it worth spending that figure. And the cost of sprinklers fitted throughout the block? Up to a £400,000 spend I believe, but again not thought to be worth doing by someone, somewhere.
The pressure is now on to ensure that other tower blocks in the country at a similar level of risk are identified and rectified. But in these days of insufficient housing, where will the residents of such blocks be housed in the interim? And will an emergency interim enquiry report be published quickly enough for the right levels of action to be taken?
Jeremy Corbyn provided a constructive suggestion in the idea of requisitioning empty private houses on an emergency basis. And as Grenfell is near so much wealth, that suggestion becomes even more poignant. I'm pretty sure that private flatted accommodation in that area would not contain the risks that have been found to have existed at Grenfell.
So those are the major issues that have to be dealt with after the terrible suffering and loss of life inflicted by someone's tardiness - and carelessness. I dare say Grenfell will be flattened and a memorial garden created in its place, but the memory of this disaster will take a very long time to dissipate. And a disaster is what it is. But even after admitting in a BBC2 interview that this was an awful disaster, Mrs. May again fell back on mechanical words to describe it: an "incident" she called it.
Such mechanical words uttered by people on the right of politics sum up their attitude. Public services and the duty due to the most vulnerable in our society are regarded as being secondary to duty towards big business. To such an extent that in a pre-Election Question Time programme, the Brexit Minister (David Davis) said that "things like that [vital public services] have to wait for economic growth". It says a lot, doesn't it? And, of course, he wouldn't dare suggest that some re-distribution of wealth might alleviate the issue: it is the forever growing gulf between the rich and the poor that is at the bottom of the present crisis of government.
And I suppose that Davis would call safety concerns at Grenfell as just "things" to be paid for when the economy is sufficiently lining the pockets of the rich. Or perhaps he - in his state of sleep - just assumed that the country was running well enough for him to be able to utter phrases like that.
It was in fact a Tory leader and prime minister of the 19th century - Benjamin Disraeli - who became conscience stricken by the same issue, and said that if the Tory Party did not address the issue his Party stood a chance of being lost forever. Well, 140 years later, here we have his Party at the same juncture: they stand to be lost forever, cast aside as a Party of unfeeling persons who ride only First Class, careful not to mingle with their subjects.
Thank you for reading this.
Postscript (a quote from a recent interview):
"[During the 2010-15 government] the then-housing minister, who is now the immigration minister, in fact, specifically, when he was challenged as to whether he should put a rule in place that said that sprinkler systems should be fit in the buildings like this, as they already have to be in Germany, Wales, in Scotland, etc., his justification for not putting this rule in place was that they had this totally ideological idea that for every regulation they imposed they had to remove two. That was his specific justification. If there had been a sprinkler system in this building, despite all the other massive failings – that would’ve stopped people dying, and that didn’t happen."