Sunday, 18 June 2017
GRENFELL INQUIRY MUST BE TRANSPARENT
Unfortunately, such is the nature of Public Inquiries, we don't get to shout 'whitewash' until it's all over. In the meanwhile, we are all told to shut up and let them get on with it. It is a government's most effective tool to remove a controversial issue from the public arena and a way in which to avoid awkward questions that might incriminate them. I don't claim to know much about Public Inquiries, but from my own memory of them, they are usually set up by an incumbent government and usually end with the incumbent government clearing itself of all liability at some time in the future when the world has moved on.
We all witnessed the speed at which Grenfell turned into a towering inferno, we all know that the tenants fears were ignored by their management agency and the Local Authority. Theresa May's Chief of Staff (voted OUT by the public), was the former Housing Minister who not only sat on the recommendations of the Coroner for a previous tower block fire, but along with all of his colleagues (mostly landlords) voted against legislation to make homes fit for human habitation.
Let there be no doubt, this massacre, was the result of GREED, pure and simple. Who opted for the £2 cheaper, flammable panels? And who approved them? Who was responsible for discarding Building Regulations in order to increase profit? We might not know names at the moment, but we do know a Tory housing management team, a Tory Local Authority, and a Tory Government created all the conditions for a major disaster. In a nutshell, they put profit above human life
There is every reason to fear Theresa May's Public Inquiry will be a cover up and her assurance that the Inquiry will report to HER directly, isn't helping. What she really wants is the time and breathing space to create a false narrative, one in which the blame will eventually be placed on the 'feckless' tenants one way or another, probably culminating in a smoking ban in all social housing. The work to change the narrative has already begun with the sister of Boris Johnson claiming the PM is just as much a victim as those who died in the fire, together with a sly dig at the Fire Brigade - they approved the works she said. If her little chat with LBC was approved by Theresa May, then it's clear there is no remorse, and she is looking for a scapegoat.
The PM weeps only for herself. She found it so easy to make difficult decisions that she boasted about it. She revelled in her persona of Iron Lady mark II and was proud of her reputation as a 'bloody difficult woman'. She slashed her way through all the public services designed to protect society's most vulnerable without so much as a flinch. There's 'no magic money tree' she told a nurse on BBQT, who's take home hasn't changed since 2009. We must offer immediate financial aid to those Tory colleagues who lost their seats, she said days later without any sense of her own hypocrisy.
Difficult decisions that kill numbers and statistics are easy for Theresa May, she could press that nuclear button without a moment's hesitation. So too she can take thousands off benefits because mental health problems are not a medical disability. She has no problem with children going hungry, people sleeping on the streets or being charged exorbitant rent for properties not fit for human habitation. Theresa May is crumbling now because every evil decision she ever made is coming back to haunt her. She can't reach out to those suffering directly from her difficult decisions, because (finally) she is ridden with guilt. Up until now, she has been able to view all those lives she has wrecked as collateral damage, the price SHE is willing to pay to protect the wealthiest in society. Those Landlords and Employers who guffawed at the sweeping away of tenants and employees right and who look forward to tearing up the rulings from the European Court of Human Rights.
Now Theresa May and her Government of ex public schoolboys who are proud members of a Club that has burning a £50 note in front of a homeless person as an initiation ceremony, will be held to account for the grubby scams that led to this manmade humanitarian disaster. The concrete tower blocks filled with social housing tenants spoiled the view of the wealthy tenants in the surrounding areas. There is little to dispute that the refurbishment was cosmetic, nothing to do with the concerns of those who lived there and more to do with house prices.
A Public Inquiry will allow Theresa May et all, to completely avoid the question of who is to blame. She will let us know in 3/4 years time when the Inquiry is concluded. Meanwhile those Councils opting for Contractors who use cheaper flammable materials in their multi million pound social housing refurbishments can carry on. They will continue to pass their planning applications and sign off their Building Certificates, because in the Tories' sweeping away of regulations, pretty much anything goes as long as it is profitable. We have entered a new era where we can expect a Trump Tower in every town and village.
The current 'we won't know until the end of the Inquiry' simply won't do. In the richest borough of London, hundreds of people, were burned to death in front of the eyes of the world. We ALL saw those cladding panels go up like cinder, there is no room for doubt or 'wait and see'. And what was going on with the internal doors? I had a friend who lived in tower block in New Cross. She was on one of the top floors, but I always felt 'as safe as houses' within her home. Her front door was at least 6 inches thick, and completely impenetrable by man, beast or fire. At one time, there was a fire 3 floors below her - the flat was completely burned out, but my friend's biggest grievance was the soot on her curtains!
To those marching I would say, make your demands absolutely clear. In my opinion, every borough in the UK should be tearing down the plastic they wrapped around their previously safe tower blocks now. If I were a resident in a block with the same cladding, I would immediately buy a fire extinguisher (though the Councils should issue them), and I would keep those death trap panels permanently soaked, because sure as eggs is eggs, the arguments over who pays for the work could drag the issue on for months or even years. Some no doubt, will already be suggesting upping the rents to pay for it.
To those fighting for justice for the Grenfell Tower victims, get your demands straight and get organised! Between you, you probably have a good idea of how many people are unaccounted for. Use social media to get the truth out there. There are no official statistics from 'the establishment' - not knowing how many survived, and who survived, adds to the fear and speculation.
as to how many died. I personally think the playing down of the numbers dead, will be among the scandals revealed when the Inquiry eventually ends and no-one cares anyone. That's why the public should be informed now. There is a real battle between fake news and real news at the moment, and the fake stuff is losing. Everyone has iphones these days, any attempts by this tory government to put the blame on the poor guy with the dodgy fridge or those smoking weed is dead in the water. The fire spread because the Tory Council wrapped the social housing in flammable plastic to make the view more aesthetically pleasing to their voters. In 4 years time they will say the idea is absurd, so let's remember it now, before it gets buried.
* How many people are missing? This figure seems to be absent from all media reports. As an onlooker, the nearest I have heard to a 'figure' is the 172 live calls to emergency services, where the traumatised responders had to tell callers to stay in their flats and the equally traumatised fireman had to accept they couldn't rescue them.
* It is imperative that those who survived Grenfell Tower be rehoused within the same postcode. Those marching right now have a voice, and that voice must be used to prevent social engineering which is designed to rid affluent areas of those who would lower property prices by their presence. It IS a class issue, begun with the bedroom tax, and pursued with a war on the indigenous Londoners not in the 5 figure earning bracket. Remember the end goal of this ideology, is gated communities and tent cities.
* At the moment emotions are high - ergo, this is the time in which to make demands that WILL be met. Transparency would be a good place to start. If the 'Inquiry' for example, should start to wander off into the realms of tenants' anti social behaviour and they brought this on themselves - the tenants should be allowed to say, 'wtf the you lying bastards' and it should be annotated alongside the expert opinion.
Theresa May is right in that lessons need to be learned, what she hasn't grasped is the fact that it is she who needs to learn them.