It is ridiculous of anyone to ‘accuse’ people of politicizing the Grenfell disaster. Politics is inarguably at the centre of it, and those responsible should not be allowed to shirk their responsibility in this situation.
The Grenfell disaster was, as has been revealed by recent examinations of the site, a tragic accident. However, there are obviously still many factors, chiefly the cladding, which mean that everyone is keen to place blame. Fingers have been pointed at those who passed the cladding on initial fire tests, those who sold the cladding, those who manufactured the cladding and so on and so forth. In this inescapable blame game, politicians cannot be free of culpability. McDonnell is quite right in saying that police and fireman cuts have likely influenced the recent increase in serious crimes and fire-related deaths, particularly evident in the recent terrorist attacks and, of course, in the Grenfell fire. These events starkly showed how the government cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to our emergency services.
Disregard of the working classes
As further cuts have been made to council housing, it has been found that sixty tower blocks across England face similar risks. Were the Grenfell disaster guaranteed to be an isolated incident, at least where the cladding was concerned, perhaps politicians could avoid culpability by claiming to not have been involved in the fine details of one tower block across the hundreds throughout the UK, pushing responsibility onto the building companies or the builders themselves. However, it is not an isolated incident in this respect, and therefore responsibility must be taken for the widespread panic and evacuations we are now seeing, most notably in the Camden area. As the Conservative governments turned a blind eye to blanket details for affordable housing, many people of the working class now face being left without homes due to longstanding governmental inattentiveness. Their homes have suddenly been deemed to pose an ‘unacceptable’ fire risk, which begs the question – why was this acceptable before almost eighty people lost their lives and hundreds more lost their livelihoods? This rising epidemic of evacuations may be the fault of many individuals and organisations, but the Conservative government is inescapably among them for their blatant disregard of quality in affordable housing.
Examining the lead up and response to the Grenfell Tower crisis, how can Tories complain that Labour is politicizing the disaster? This disaster has been political from the start, highlighted by events such as Theresa May’s awkward visit to the site and the stepping down of the local council. Perhaps the critique should instead be that the Conservative government is trying to de-politicise the disaster, sidestepping blame by drawing attention to the families left in wrecks with relatives dead and homes lost – families that would not be in this position had their government remembered that they deserve safe housing just as much as their MP’s do. While first and foremost respect should obviously be paid to the individuals families damaged, those to blame should not escape responsibility as a result of peoples overwhelming grief. This is not about using the disaster to put one or another political party in a better light, this is about the fundamental failure of the Conservatives to remember that, working class or royalty, everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their own home.
The Guardian, 25.6.17, ‘Sixty tower blocks across England found to have unsafe cladding’:
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