— Russell Brown (@publicaddress) June 15, 2017
Russell Brown has written a moving, hard hitting post, about the Grenfell Tower fire which has so far taken 17 lives. He talks about living in London, outlines half a dozen life-stealing, preventable tragedies all with a common core of underfunding and ideological commitment to a culture of deregulation, and then points to the multiple instances of warning that the authorities were given about the risk of fire at Grenfell.
One night in 1987, 31 people had died in a terrible fire underground at King’s Cross Station. Senior transport chiefs resigned after an inquiry and Oppostion MPs accused the Conservative government of sacrificing the safety of travellers by cutting budgets. Only two days before the fire, Margaret Thatcher had delivered a speech – apparently aimed at US lawmakers considering their own budgets – about the importance of “prudent finance and living within your means”.
I lived, squatting, in several council flats and I wouldn’t want to claim they were lovely places. But it appears already that the prettification of Grenfell is behind the disaster. It quickly emerged that a residents’ organisation called the Grenfell Action Group had repeatedly warned of the fire risk in the building. As far back as 2013 the group was writing of “an ongoing culture of negligence at the TMO” with respect to fire risks.
Read it, weep, and then get very very angry. Because while the neoliberal underpinnings of this aren’t new, we’re at a point now where this should be intolerable. And that means we have the capacity for change. As Brown says, this feels like a signal moment in the history of the UK. I see it as a confluence of history and tragedy and we’d better bloody well take advantage of the things in our favour. The UK has Corbyn’s Labour and momentum. NZ will need a different strategy.
We’re not in the UK obviously, and there are many ways in which we could argue that the UK is so much worse than here. In many ways we are still so insulated from the harshness of much of the world. But that’s the thing about life in the Brighter Future, it’s very easy to minimise the tragedy when it comes more subtle and with a smile and a wave.
This is Grenfell’s London.
— The London Economic (@LondonEconomic) June 15, 2017
Meanwhile in Godzone, we prefer to kill our poor people slowly and surely.
1,600 people die every year because our politicians refuse to ensure landlords let homes that are warm, safe & dry https://t.co/3FezR1alAV
— Renters United (@rentersunited) June 13, 2017
Follow the links. It’s all depressingly familiar, the tale of the neoliberal revolution. So, the politics then,
These are the Tory MPs who voted against a law making rented homes like Grenfell Tower be fit for human habitation.
They are all landlords. pic.twitter.com/3SYH3P15le
— Socialist Voice 🌐 (@SocialistVoice) June 14, 2017
— Lew (@LewSOS) June 15, 2017
We can take our pick. Housing, health, suicide rates, mental breakdowns, workplace accidents, thousands hospitalised from contaminated water, household food insecurity. On and on, there’s a wide choice now.
In Southland there are people going blind unnecessarily because neoliberal governments have fucked over the health system so many times that it can’t function properly any more.
This feels like a signal moment in the history of a country. I realise the Queen’s not going to go over to Downing Street and relieve Theresa May of the keys to the nation. But Britain can not and must not go on like this.
What say you New Zealand about our own fate? That anger, that will win us the election. Let’s get smart about that, and direct the anger where it will be most effective.