Tag Archives: Grenfell Tower

Something in the air

28 Jun

There are conjunctions of events which change public perception. There was the Manchester Arena attack, and in its aftermath the video clips where an award winning community based Police Officer from Manchester warning Home Secretary Theresa May of the dangers of cutting this area of policing. His warnings were specific and were concerned with lack of community contact, the loss of intelligence and the dangers of terrorism. May’s answers were not just a flat denial but a direct insult to the professionalism of that officer.

Then came the London Bridge attack, which was dealt with brilliantly and swiftly by an armed response unit. If the terrorist cell had been able to obtain guns rather than use knives the death toll would have been truly horrific. It was a damn close run thing.

The fire at Grenfell Tower showed the penny-pinching policies of Kensington Counsel and the blatant disregard for the most basic of fire safety standards. This happened despite warnings from residents of the borough and the instructions of the manufacturers of the cladding panels. For seven years the very idea of regulation has been anathema to the government. Health and Safety has been cut beyond the bone. Administration of regulation has been handed to private companies whose sole reason to exist is profit, and their bottom line does not count the cost to human life.

Government austerity measures have led to cuts in all areas of health and safety, whether it be the NHS, social care, the Police, the Fire Services, ambulance services, education and regulatory bodies. At the same time the checking that regulations are enforced at local level has been relaxed to a point of ineffectiveness. And now the least empowered reap the whirlwind.

If there can be said to be such a thing as a public mood, then this mood has changed. There may still be an appetite for poverty pornography, like Benefits Street, but the attention has been focussed more on the actions and inaction of the government and connections have been made between austerity and public safety. The mood is angry. This is a deep resentment of the elite, the ruling classes and the mega rich.

I have not known such a deep dislike of a government in my lifetime, not even to Margret Thatcher. The British are slow to develop such resentment, but the fire at Grenfell Tower has set a revolutionary fire in the bellies of many citizens. If there are no major changes there will be a popular uprising against our current rulers. And no distractions by the gutter press or weasel words from government will lessen the deep sense of injustice and the perceived lack of representation.