Charred, lifeless and brutal, the hollowed out remains of Grenfell Tower in west London screams of the human agony inflicted when, on 14th June, the building became an inferno.
Whilst there are various theories about what triggered the fire – dodgy wiring, a faulty fridge, a gas leak – what is clear is that this disaster was not an accident, it was the consequence of a social housing policy dating back to the 1980’s, systematic neglect, social injustice and the ongoing war being waged on the poorest members of British society by the Conservative government. And this time the result is not just low pay, second-rate education and housing, lack of opportunities, increased anxiety and depression, but murder; families torn to pieces, lives destroyed.
Deep sadness shrouds the whole area, and, coming as it does on the back of a spate of recent atrocities, distress and a sense of collective bewilderment pervade the country.
The initial shock of the disaster has morphed into contained anger as the level of official incompetence and apathy becomes increasingly clear. Residents’ warnings of the risks of fire were repeatedly ignored by The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) who own the building and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO); the most insistent residents – two of whom are now dead – were bullied and threatened with “legal action for defamation” by KCTMO, the company responsible for the management of the building, The Independent reports. This attitude is widespread, the Radical Housing Group (RHG) makes clear that “the recent history of social housing is one of contempt for council tenants and denigration of council housing…the underlying causes of the Grenfell tragedy are deeply economic and political.”