Posts Tagged ‘disaster’

We’ve just witnessed a seismic event in our national history; I’m fairly certain of that. The Grenfell Tower disaster will be talked about for weeks, and written about for decades. The working classes, who have generally been patronised, written off and demonised by the media and establishment since Thatcher’s day, have a voice again, but only in the aftermath of a delirious nightmare come true.

 

You cannot listen to any of the residents’ stories without welling up with grief or fury at the injustice of this catastrophe. Mothers throwing children from high-rise windows; frantic narrow escapes involving vaulting over piles of corpses; trapped people screaming in desperation as death enveloped them. This must have been as close to a manifestation of Hell as the human mind could conceive.

 

Safe in my family postwar council home, I got up and watched the news footage in genuine astonishment. My first thought, other than horror at the people caught in the nightmare, was the intensity and scale of the inferno. How could a modern building be so consumed so quickly? Even my modest knowledge of fire prevention told me that fires do not spread like that unless there is an accelerant involved; certainly not if there are sprinklers or fire retardant material on every floor. The reports confirm the first response team arrived a mere six minutes after the alarm was raised, and yet the building was absolutely engulfed from the fourth to top floors as it was still being battled, and took hours to bring under control.

 

People disparaging any mention of political decisions (and ideologies) in the context of this horror are disrespecting every victim of this utterly avoidable tragedy. A few things swirled around my mind when the wretched scene had sunk in; was this another case of neglect from private companies cutting corners on safety in tower blocks not meant for affluent residents? Subsequent reports heavily imply that recent refurbishment seemed to concentrate more on making the outside of the building more pleasing to the eye of the wealthy denizens across the way, than ensuring every floor had basic fire prevention and safety measures implemented. It was also revealed that a resident group’s previous warnings were ignored. Perhaps some zealous ministers will think twice about using their favoured “bonfire of red tape” idiom from now on, for this is ‘deregulation culture’ writ large.

 

The disgusting irony of that phrase in this context also brings to mind former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to close numerous London fire stations, as well as telling a critic of this policy to “get stuffed” in his own trademark infantile manner. Boris himself is of course renowned for blowing over £320k on water cannons that were later declared illegal and had to be sold unused; the notion that water jets should be used to protect citizens from the worst effects of devastating conflagrations apparently less desirable than using them to potentially blind protestors to the corpulent gibbon.

 

Neoliberalism should have been laid to rest in 2008, when the inevitable culmination of its ideology in the finance sector saw it bring the world economy to its knees. But then Cameron and his coalition of chaos decided to apply defibrillation, and its zombie version rose to begin cannibalising the few aspects of the system that could be seen as remotely positive. Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the snap election has cast a shadow over its immediate future, but this disaster should be the last rites for this sickening cult of individualism, corporate greed and abdication of state responsibility to its people.

Advertisements