Deadly London Fire Shows How Concerns of Poor ‘Constantly Neglected’

“We need to deal with this—we need people to be safe living in high rise buildings,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

“Anyone who’s worked anywhere in the inner city—this isn’t a surprise,” said Danny Vance, an Associate Pastor at Notting Hill Community Church. (Photo: Matt Dunham/AP)

As the death toll from the horrific and “unprecedented” fire that engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower on Wednesday continues to climb, some are highlighting the institutional and economic reasons behind the devastation amid concerns that frequent safety warnings were ignored by the British government.

“Things like this are going to keep happening if the poor are ignored in this city.”
—Danny Vance, Associate Pastor at Notting Hill Community Church       

Focus has particularly centered on Gavin Barwell, who served as housing minister before recently becoming Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff.

“Barwell committed last year to review part B of the Building Regulations 2010, which pertains to fire safety, but the review was delayed, according to trade journal Fire Risk Management,” Business Insider‘s Thomas Colson reported.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On June 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    A tragedy that could’ve been averted.

  • NADIRA UK  On June 16, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    It was done on purpose. It is racist attack
    .people who have died are immigrants. This is a sick wicked world we live in

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 22, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    What Politicians said in the wake of Grenfell Tower rings hollow if you’ve seen it all before in the Middle East

    In the Middle East, we’re always suspicious when a local dictator talks about unity – ‘wahda’ in Arabic – because it usually means he’s in trouble

    Robert Fisk | Independent UK

    Could there be anything more ridiculous than hearing Maajid Nawaz, one of the founders of Quilliam – which boasts that it is the world’s first “counter-extremist” organisation – suggesting that extremists in the UK are trying to provoke “civil war”?

    He says that ISIS has declared this as its aim – which is true – but why is Nawaz repeating it all again?

    It’s good publicity for ISIS, unfortunately. It’s also good publicity for the Quilliam Foundation whose “think tank” – how I hate those words – is churning out this stuff.

    Inevitably, the Grenfell fire – many of whose victims were Muslims – has become part of the “terror” story, which is just what a MailOnline report did last week.

    Had most of the fire victims been non-Muslims, I don’t believe this bit of dodgy “conflation” would have been made.

    On the other hand, it could well be argued that Lady May might have met the victims if they had not been “angry” Muslims. And after the van attack in Finsbury Park, we had to endure Corbyn’s psychobabble about how we must “reach out” to the “pain and stress” of victims.

    I’m not sure how you “reach out” to “stress” – though Jeremy seems to think it’s about hugging people. In fact, responding to “terror” – of the Islamist, fascist or fiery variety – is a difficult one for political leaders, especially when one of them – the unsympathetic lady – may soon be out of a job and the other one is busy trying to create “unity” even if he hasn’t been terribly successful in doing it in his own party.

    In the past, all this seemed a bit easier. Churchill’s promenades through blitzed London – the occasional jeers didn’t find their way into the newsreels – were comparatively easy.

    There weren’t many Muslims, for a start, and those that were, particularly Yemenis, were often crewing ships – and dying in them – in the Battle of the Atlantic.

    Everyone hated the Nazis (save for a few members of the Tory party). But you won’t catch Jeremy Corbyn boasting on television about “our famous island race”.

    I think Thatcher was the last to come close to this – when the Falkland islanders were our “kith and kin”. Even Lady May wouldn’t dare use that one round at the Grenfell flats.

    So now they all talk about “unity” and “values”.

    In the Middle East, we’re always suspicious when a local dictator talks about “unity” – ‘wahda’ in Arabic – because it usually means he’s in trouble.

    Calls for national unity in Tunisia and Egypt preceded the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak. Autocrats often try to cement this “unity” with stifling praise for their security forces who protect their “nation” from “foreign plots”. This has faint parallels with the UK today.

    All politicians praise the police – whose failure to protect the public often becomes buried in applause for their courage – and ISIS certainly fits the “plots” bit, although Cardiff hardly counts as “foreign”.

    Other parallels are troublingly closer to the mark. The countries which talk most about “unity” – President-Field Marshal al-Sissi in Egypt today, for example – are often those facing Islamist violence.

    Or nations which have substantial minorities of different faiths. Think Lebanon. Or Syria. Or Iraq. All three endured or are enduring civil wars of the kind which Mr Nawaz is waffling on about.

    The difference is that the inherent instability of Middle East states was caused by a number of historical factors, not least their colonial past.

    In this sense, we should be safe – since we were actually doing the colonising [albeit that some of the colonised then came to the UK].

    But what I noticed most about the fire was the vast racist social media hatred towards the victims – as soon as many turned out to have been Muslims.

    Arab dictatorships close down the entire internet if it suits them, monitor all users or simply clap offenders into jail – especially if the ethnic hatred is injudiciously mixed with the mildest criticism of the local autocrat.

    The UK can’t do that, because of all those “values” that Lady May keeps blathering about, although Yahoo executives at Sunnyvale, California should hang their heads in shame at the state of their readership after some of the filth that appeared in comments below the line on their web portal after the London fire.

    Another faint parallel can be traced in official Arab government reactions to national tragedies – the collapse of an apartment block in Cairo, for example.

    An immediate investigation is set up by the dictator and public fury at the government’s failings is invariably described as anger at the “corruption” of private businessmen who cut corners in public housing.

    This is intriguing, because while the “anger” of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire was clearly directed at the failure of the authorities to act on residents’ previous horrific warnings about fire hazards in the 24-storey block, the “anger” was largely explained by journalists as the victims’ frustration at not being able to trace relatives or friends or know the true figure of the dead.

    Yet the placards held up by the demonstrators did not ask for statistics. They asked for “justice”.

    And “justice”, of course, is exactly what many Arab demonstrators were demanding in the Arab revolutions.

    Justice, needless to say, was not what the dictators intended them to have – nor did the West, which insisted on claiming that protestors wanted “democracy”.

    And in London, after the fire, one thing which, I suspect, irked those who demonstrated on the streets was that their original demands for fire-risk-free homes had been largely ignored in an environment in which the poor, the unemployed or Muslim refugees had long been vilified on social media – thus making their warnings unworthy of serious attention.

    This was the “injustice” they suffered from.

    And “injustice” in the Middle East – by us and our satrap dictators and our sale of billions of dollars of weapons to them and our invasion of Iraq and our bombings – has helped to create ISIS.

    It is justice – home and abroad – that Maajid Nawaz and his chums should be discussing. But I guess a UK civil war gets more hits right now.

    • NADIRA UK  On June 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      At the end of the day no.one will know exactly how many people died. People were illegally subletting their council property and raking in money. These low life scroungers knew how to work the system
      Disgusting too as they will turn up with their papers and get free money (Si😧mon Cowell bridge over trouble waters)and get to stay in 5 star hotel – it is very difficult to get council property these days but the Italian couple was only in uk for 3 months and was living at grenfall.

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