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  1. #1
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    Default Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    In the aftermath of the horrific fire that has destroyed a residential building in West London, Grenfell Tower, one asks if the UK is like a sick individual who can only express their inner feelings through self-harm. We did not need a referendum on our membership of the EU, we did not need an election to strengthen the negotiating position of the UK, and we did not need to witness a tower block engulfed in flames in a fire that could have been prevented. And we don't need some of the responses to the fire which have exposed the very same endemic indifference and systemic failure which resulted in one of the primary symbols of the event: this is the worst single devastation of a building with major loss of life since British cities were bombed in the Second World War, it really is that bad. On Channel 4 News last night (Thursday 15th June) the actor Lily Allen who lives close by challenged the 'official' figure of 17 dead to say people around her had a minimum figure of 150, many of whom died by jumping out of their windows.

    Symbolically, something has gone up in flames, and it is not just the lives of 8 and 80 year olds and those in between, it is the competence of local and central government, and the simple fact that to the Council and the government, the people in the block were not important then, or now.

    The renovation of Grenfell Tower was put out to tender and of the applicants, the most expensive at just over £11 million was rejected in favour of the tender which succeeded, amounting to £8.6 million, and in that simple contrast of figures you have the most stunning if obvious clue as to what went wrong: the choice was made on cost and the cheaper option came through.
    The contractor, Rydon, as usually happens in these deals, sub-contracted and sub-contracted and one doesn't know what quality control there was, but the renovation was met with a blizzard of complaints from the residents, ignored and in some cases treated with resentment by the Council, one (Tory) Councillor suggesting to another (Labour) the residents should be 'grateful' for the modernization of their homes.

    That the 'cladding' on the exterior of the building contained combustible material seems insane, and it is, though in our insane country it may not be proven to have been illegal because the Council that owns the building, Kensington and Chelsea, followed all the 'guidelines' and in addition the fire service must have had an opinion on this too and their assessment will make interesting reading.

    It is argued that not only was the cladding liable to combust, and did, but that shoddy renovation work meant that the fabric of the building between the outer layer and the interior may have been breached with new piping that was not sealed properly (incompetence? cost cutting?), giving flames engorged on combustible panels a vent through which to burst higher and higher at a speed that has shocked fire fighters with 30 years or more experience.

    Residents complained that although the council fitted their apartments with new boilers, they were placed in awkward positions too close to the door, while others complained about pipes sticking out of the wall, and one resident says that when he challenged the builders who insisted on entering his apartment at their choosing, he was told, in local parlance, to go fuck himself.

    The details of this will come out in some form or another, but the response of the Government tells its own story of systemic failure to understand that somewhere in all this technical stuff about cladding, pipes, and the absence of a sprinkler system (cost £200,000!), people, real people with names and jobs and families, are suffering.

    Crucially, at a time when elections across Europe and the USA have been about 'forgotten people' and the 'left behind' we meet that other group -the Irrelevant, the people who can voice as much concern as they like about the most basic conditions of life, and be ignored. Nothing underlines this more than the shameful behaviour of Theresa May, who went to the site for a 'private' meeting with first responders, and who did not meet a single person affected by the disaster, not even in one of the careful selection processes that senior politicians go in for these days. Jeremy Corbyn was there, in the thick of it, talking to real people, just as London Mayor Sadiq Khan was too, and getting an earful from angry residents expressing the anger May should have had the courage to hear, and face down. Even though I suspect that as usual she was advised to do this, it has yet again damaged her image and her days in power will not be extended by this dismal non-performance.

    But if that is bad, her decision to establish a Public Enquiry take a sledgehammer to accountability, for its pre-empts the right of the victims to an Inquest that would determine how their relatives died, and a process that can begin with greater speed than a Public Enquiry. Legally, the govt has no control over an Inquest, where relatives can appoint counsel to interrogate officials involved and the Coroner deliver a verdict with potentially damning conclusions on the council - and the government. A Public Enquiry may take months to be set up and years to report. The govt has decided that Grenfell Tower is a tragic event, but there are more important things to be getting on with.

    The UK doesn't have enough buckets of shit to pour on the people responsible for the fire and its response. In a democracy the representation of the people does not just mean electing a councillor or an MP, it must also be a transparent system in which decision-makers are accountable to the people, without whom there is no government and no democracy.

    Symbolically, this government-from-afar is falling to pieces; 'private better than public' shows no dividend other than riches for a few, poverty and an early death for the rest. The 'bonfire of regulations' was never more symbolically apt to describe the attitude of governments that put private profit before social responsibility, where 'virtue' produces neglect not empathy. I would like to think we can now move on from this and recover some form of decency in the governance of this country, but the compulsion to self-harm makes me wonder if there is a remedy that the patient is willing to try to make real change possible.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    True to form a tabloid newspaper has tried to 'pin the blame' for the fire on the faulty fridge of an immigrant, because the furious criticism of Theresa May and the more positive portrayal of Jeremy Corbyn is driving them round the bend barely a week after they failed to destroy Corbyn's career; while the major factor here is not the cause of the fire but the reasons why it spread out of control so quickly and destroyed the entire building.

    Similarly, although below I link a compelling list of failures from the Telegraph, to whom credit must be given for being honest about the leader of their own party, the comments to some of their reports bring out the scorched earth worms of ancient Briton to heap abuse on Lily Allen for daring to tell the truth amid claims she was pulled from the BBC-2 Newsnight programme because of the comments she made on Channel 4 reported in my original post.

    I don't know what the Labour and opposition parties will do in Parliament, I would hope as a priority they seek to overturn Mrs May's decision to hold a public enquiry and insist on an Inquest which I think would put a lot of Tory MPs in an uncomfortable position. Labour is in a commanding position at the moment, but I don't know if they will use it to either gain an advantage for the victims in this criminal case, or go further to undermine the Conservative claim to be the government of this country.

    The Telegraph article Eight Failures that left people of Grenfell Tower at mercy of inferno
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017...mercy-inferno/


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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    wow, you really must care, since you copy and pasted all that. i wish i did it first. then i would have cared more.

    maybe tomorrow right?


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  4. #4
    Eurotrash! Platinum Poster Jericho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    Someone needed to start this thread.


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    I hate being bipolar...It's fucking ace!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    how about a TLR version. maybe just tell me what you thought without the fucking journal coz... you know, we're on hungangels. i'm not exactly hanging around here for the news


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  6. #6
    Eurotrash! Platinum Poster Jericho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesoul View Post
    i'm not exactly hanging around here for the news
    Its the Politics & Religion forum, I dunno, I'm obviously missing your point.

    Granted, Stavros is never going to be on twitter, but short version.

    London.
    Tower block fire.
    At least 100 dead.
    Political scandal and possible riots looming.

    tldr enough?


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    I hate being bipolar...It's fucking ace!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho View Post
    London.
    Tower block fire.
    At least 100 dead.
    Political scandal and possible riots looming.

    tldr enough?

    that's what i'm talking about. well, i mean the news, not the death toll. r.i.p.

    you guys are on twitter? lol



  8. #8
    5 Star Poster sukumvit boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    WTF bluesoul ? Have some compassion and put a sock in it.


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  9. #9
    Eurotrash! Platinum Poster Jericho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    not the time or place.


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    I hate being bipolar...It's fucking ace!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Grenfell Tower: the Symbols and the Suffering

    It's not just that this is a grave subject, which it is, but it's far too easy to troll someone who earnestly shares their thoughts on a serious subject. It's disconcerting to put thought into something and then receive this kind of flip, cryptic response. And the dialogue in the Jill Stein section sounds like David Mamet got kicked in the head by a horse. Enough.

    My condolences for the loss of life.


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