London’s burning, London’s burning.
Grenfell Tower Wednesday 14th June 2017
Fetch the engines, fetch the engines.
Fire fire, Fire Fire!
Pour on water, pour on water.
Self proclaimed “argumentative little shit” Lily Allen criticised the response of both the British government and the mainstream media to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, telling Channel 4’s Jon Snow that she believes the true death toll was “downplayed” at first during an interview on Thursday 15th June.
Is she right ?
Grenfell housing tower is located in North Kensington. It was social housing for poor and working class Londoners of which a huge number are Black and minority ethnic. The Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the richest in London and is marked by devastating inequality and gentrification that some poorer residents describe as social cleansing.
Non-luxury housing in London is generally a huge issue that has gone unaddressed for decades now, and privatisation of social housing provision has meant that profit motive and cost cutting have been strongly featured in poor people’s housing. Race, housing and poverty are also tightly linked in London; this was a poor and ethnically diverse community as you can see if you watch videos from the scene. The first victims, we knew, that sadly perished were a black british female photographer and her mum, and a syrian refugee.
Now, the Council is Tory and they have done less and less for the housing of its poorer residents and more to accommodate wealthy people. An example – the Council is sitting on 300 million in cash reserves yet somehow didn’t find cash to install basic fire sprinklers that the residents asked for? not only that but the 8 billion refurbishment that included the now notorious cladding was partly done for insulation but partly also to make the ugly 1970s council estate look more aesthetically pleasing for the swanky neighbourhoods nearby. Tory Chancellor Phillip Hammond has stated that BANNED more flammable material used in the cladding saved the building contractor a whopping £5000
NOW The blue-blooded Tories have been in power for the past 7 years and the order of the day has been austerity. We have seen drastic cuts in our Public Services which have been cut to the bone along with Local Authority funding. Social Housing managers who often work for subcontracted private providers paid by the Council have a huge case load. It has been reported that they are encouraged to spend less and less time on Health & Safety (including fire safety) and more on asking intrusive questions about people’s jobs and incomes because of the Tory culture of dividing people into the “deserving and undeserving poor” ie those who work and those who don’t.
People on benefits are not prioritised when it comes to housing despite individual circumstances, which is why in Grenfell you had 70 year olds with limited mobility living on the 22nd floor.
Here in the U.K. we have probably the most entrenched class system in the world and trashing of the working classes and the poor is almost a national hobby for some people. Right-wing tabloid media is extremely powerful and they paint a picture of benefit cheats and non-working immigrants even though most poor people here in Britain work (they are the new working poor who have terrible wages and live in squalid and unaffordable housing) and most Black minority and ethnic folks were born here, they’re not immigrants
If you are poor you are largely voiceless and meaningless to this neoliberal Tory Government. The tenants had written letters raising concerns about fire safety and in response were threatened with legal action. Of course they couldn’t respond because Tories have cut Legal Aid because of… yes, austerity. Meanwhile, Tory Ministers have been sitting on reports about fire safety in Council flats including one from a Coroner of a case where six people died in a housing block in South London in 2009.
The Prime Minister ‘May’ didn’t meet the people affected at the scene and the response has generally been very poor. Local Council officials have been nowhere to be seen and the donations have come from ordinary people – proper working class solidarity in the face of state that treats them with utter contempt.
Austerity kills, gentrification kills, indifference kills. folks want justice, they are angry. Why did up to 150 people die? This was preventable – it’s scandalous, horrific. it’s like poor people’s lives don’t matter here in Britain. It’s been surmised to a Hurricane Katrina moment for the U.K. so please watch videos of THE PEOPLE, poor and working class Londoners, who are suffering and expressing anger. Don’t listen to Theresa May, the Tories and the BBC ARE TRYING TO SANITISE THE STORY. This has everything to do with inequality, poverty, race and most of all CLASS.
So, during her interview with Jon Snow Lily Allen said “I feel like the government is trying to micro manage people’s grieving here, that’s what’s happening. I have never in my life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by mainstream media. Seventeen? I’m sorry but I’m hearing from people that the figure is much closer to 150, and that many of those people are children,”
The interview aired live on Thursday 15th June and was rather controversial, so much so, the IMPARTIAL BBC decided to pull her from appearing on Newsnight.
Lily went on to say that “there was no attempt from the council to bring the rich and poor residents in the borough together” which is home to council flats amongst some of the most expensive properties in the world ” The council had instead driven them apart – by closing community centres and pubs in favour of posher versions, i.e. gastro pubs without hearts. ‘Tis all about image, further examples by the 20 million facelift (cladding) which was flammable used to make Grenfell Tower more aesthetically pleasing. As mentioned above Tory Chancellor Phillip Hammond has stated that in fact the cladding used is banned here in the U.K.
This is another example of whitewashing this terrible disaster, of course we cannot see dissent, as that would play into the public outrage, oh and believe me, there is public outrage !
The Grenfell Tower fire was a “preventable accident” caused by “years of neglect” by the local council and successive governments, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said.
So who opened their hearts and doors?
The working class opened up their doors to the Grenfell victims immediately, let them stay over, fed them, gave them clothes etc.
But the rich on the other hand, their mansions remain locked. They could house them, clothe them, feed them, give them somewhere to wash. But they remain silent
It’s another crime.
The spirit of Londoners
If you’re ever unsure about what it means to be a Londoner… this is it. The whole community of Kensington and beyond, pulling together to help those affected by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.
People of all faiths donating their clothes, shoes, supplies and time to help those in need. Churches, mosques, sports halls and more have all been opening their doors and we’ve heard stories of many people welcoming people into their homes and others paying for hotel rooms for those affected.
This is London. Londoners stick up for each other in the face of any adversity and although there will always be people who try to undermine this, they / we will never lose this sense of community and wanting to help our neighbours.
Outrage – rightly so!
Protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall chanting “justice” on Friday 16th June carrying a list of demands they said authorities must meet. The Government was criticised for seemingly U-turning on a pledge to rehouse residents affected by the blaze within the Borough, admitting that they may have to be relocated to other areas in London.
Despite the budget surplus, it appeared the council was struggling to find accommodation in the Borough for residents who have been left homeless in the blaze.
Grieving relatives of the dead pointed to the repeated failures by those managing the properties to prevent such a tragedy on an unprecedented scale.
The Price We Pay
A thought occurred to me when I saw the BBC headline that the Queen and Prince William were visiting the area of the Grenfell Tower.
Buckingham Palace: Receives £370m for refurbishment.
Grenfell Tower: Doesn’t receive £300,000 for a sprinkler system.
As pointed out by numerous voices, one example being Aamer Anwar, these people died because they were poor. They continually raised awareness that fire alarms didn’t work and lifts repeatedly stopped. People jumped!
An extraordinary letter from Queen Elizabeth to the public.
One thing for sure… and I hope Queenie has seen Teressa May for the coward she truly is … and this aborted fetus of a human wants to form a minority government with the DUP for heavens sake !
Another Class …
Then we have the celebrity Culture …. another class system. Never one to miss a media opportunity is Simon Cowell who will be releasing a charity single, more than likely, sung by one of his talentless , plastic fantastical celebrity wannabe goons that parade on his TVs shows or those equally distasteful “has-beens” signed up to his record label. Oh … hold the front page … One Direction (no direction) may just get back together for the charity song. Apparently Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson have officially confirmed to be recording lines for the celeb cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Harry Styles and Niall Horan are trying to free up their schedules to take part. Paloma Faith whom blasted government officials, Robbie Williams, James “twitter angry man” Arthur, James Blunt, Rita Ora, Leona Lewis and Lily have all agreed to warble. So watch this space.
I’d rather see him dig deep into those black high waisted trousers – and donate instead of listening to some soulless plastic recycled crap clap trap. Scanning the tabloids I also see that Brooklyn Beckham turned up reported to be visibly shaken … really ! And spent an afternoon in a local Church helping with his younger siblings. Rita Ora and Adele also amongst those helping.
Writing for Business Insider UK back in April 2017, Oscar Williams-Grut reported that there are almost 20,000 ‘ghost’ homes sitting empty in London. Guess where these homes are ?
Yes, Kensington and Chelsea.
Kensington & Chelsea is a hotspot for so-called “buy-to-leave” property deals, where wealthy foreign investors purchase properties as investments and leave them to sit empty as their value increases. Both the Evening Standard and the Guardian have dubbed Kensington & Chelsea a “ghost town” in recent years due to this practice.
Why on Earth are any people from Grenfell still sleeping in sports halls after the disaster? London and Kensington especially is chock full of empty luxury apartments being sat on by speculators. These must be opened up immediately.
So getting back to Lily, what she said .. was she right, I believe so. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. This should never have happened. This is an absolute tragedy and it exposes the utter corruption at the heart of government and in Tory austerity policy along with, let’s not forget the saddest part of this tragedy where people begged to be saved from suffocating smoke and flames is that most will now face the issue of displacement. My guess is the remains of people’s homes, their safe spaces and now the final resting places of some said tenants will be bulldozed over. Miraculously sprouting private homes way out of most Londoner’s price range (especially those who benefit from council and housing association homes) to be bought by private investors who may or may not visit every couple of months. The reality of this situation is those who have lost everything may not be offered subsequent housing in the capital. They will be offered homes up north in the likes of Birmingham and Manchester, out of the way of the rich.
This country has shown me it’s face and it is ugly. It fights for the upholding of inequalities. It fights for the upholding of the ruling classes. Change is needed.
We need CHANGE !