Grenfell Tower – A critique of neo-liberalism or just negligence

Grenfell Tower – A critique of neo-liberalism or just negligence

It has has been a while since my last post. In that time there has been the utter shambles of the general election and Mrs May attempting to forge an uneasy partnership with the socially conservative DUP. But the most significant piece of news has undoubtedly been the Grenfell Tower fire just over a week ago. This was one of the most shocking tragedies to ever occur in our capital. Some of the anecdotes to have come from this fire are truly heartbreaking. There are now hundreds of traumatised people who need to be rehoused across London – a city that isn’t exactly renowned for cheap accommodation. 

Unsurprisingly, this issue has been hijacked. Yes, an issue that is focussed on the problems of negligent councils and landlords has been politicised by the hard left. Now Grenfell Tower is symbolic of neo-liberalism/capitalism’s collapse. It is a sign that we need to overthrow the Conservative Government, rip up austerity and bring in the Corbynistas. Forgive my French but this is fucking outrageous. Parasitical bodies like The Socialist Worker have the temerity to take such a tragic incident and use it as fuel for their own anti-capitalist agenda is something I find terribly distasteful.

And I am far from the only one with such sentiments. According to a fantastic piece by Danny Boyle, in yesterday’s Telegraph, a volunteer working near the site of the tragedy was said to be furious that Grenfell had been politicised in such a way – and even got involved in an angry exchange with some of the protestors at yesterday’s ‘day of rage’. This is totally understandable. After all, why should this issue, which has damaged a community so badly, now be used as fuel to aid calls to remove the government? And why oh why is it always the same labour ‘rent a mob’, who will latch onto the coattails of any issue, regardless of whether they have been affected or not, the usual drivers of these petty protests. The only people who should be protesting about Grenfell Tower are residents of North Kensington, not latte sipping millennials from plush areas of North London. We are at a ridiculous point in history where every issue inevitably gets used to create a class war.

I am not suggesting for a moment that London is not full of gross inequality. Overseas investment has been embraced with open arms, allowing extremely wealthy individuals to simply buy properties and leave them vacant. These are not homes but rather parts of investment portfolios. This has coincided with scandalous property prices for first-time buyers, whilst those who are renting get very little value for money. I am admittedly fortunate in this regard but I know plenty of others who are struggling to find good properties at realistic prices. We live in an age where the polarities between ‘the haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ have never been wider.

In that sense, it is easy to deduce every issue and look at it through the lens of inequality. But to do so for a human tragedy on this scale is insulting. The issue is not one of macroeconomics or reforming capitalism – but rather about how a greedy council scrimped and penny pinched at the expense of the safety of their tenants. A “whopping” £4,500 was saved by using more dangerous flammable cladding over other safer variants.

Now over 600 high rise flats are said to have the same kind of cladding. The problem here is that local authorities have been able to neglect the safety of their tenants for so long. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but in this instance, it is remarkable how this has gone under the radar for so long. How could no one have pre-empted or had the foresight to push this issue which could have prevented this from happening at all. Where was the forward thinking and planning? Platitudes and statements from under pressure leaders are hollow and redundant. It was announced in the Queen’s speech that there were plans to turn the current housing white paper into law. Again, why has it taken so long for it to get to this point and did the Grenfell incident push this higher up the agenda then this would have been otherwise?

The Grenfell fire is a prime example of gross incompetence and greed. It shows how far councils are willing to go in order to save a bit of money. But, this does not and should not give the far left another platform to advance their own agenda. Local issues need to be dealt locally. Vague boisterous protests of Neo-Trotskyists and other disreputable delinquents achieve nothing but pointless noise.

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