After Theresa May made her brief private visit to talk to the firefighters and other first responders who had attended the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, she met no residents, spoke to no reporters, and instead scuttled back to the security of Downing Street. But at least she ordered a public inquiry into the blaze; if only she had acted before Labour’s Charles Falconer had prompted her.
So residents, other locals, and volunteers ended up yet more frustrated at a Prime Minister who considered meeting the lower orders was beneath her, never mind actually engaging with them. What a difference a few hours made: later this morning, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrived on the scene, along with housing spokesman John Healey and local MP - yes, Kensington now has a Labour MP - Emma Dent Coad.
One resident passed severely adverse comment on Ms May’s discreet private visit, told Corbyn “that Theresa May was ’s**t’ after she broke through a police cordon to ask for his help … The resident said action needed to be taken to ensure there was no repeat of the horrific blaze, which has left at least 17 people dead with the death toll expected to rise … She told Mr Corbyn: ‘Theresa May was here but she didn't speak to any of us. She was s**t.’ Mr Corbyn said he would see what he could do”.
The Labour leader left reporters in no doubt that he would ensure action was taken. “Some very hard questions have got to be asked and some very hard questions must be answered … Questions on the sprinkler system, questions on the fire breaks, questions on why the cladding apparently burnt, questions on building control regulations, questions on the safety … Every single person who lives in a high-rise apartment today is going to be thinking, 'How safe am I?’”. Earlier, he was confronted by another resident.
This man was unhappy at the prospect of the whole tragedy being swept under the carpet. Corbyn reassured him “Emma is your MP. She will speak for this community. John Healey is our housing spokesperson. He will speak up for us. I will speak up for all of you because we have to get to the bottom of this. The truth has got to come out. And it will”.
While Theresa May flunked her leadership test this morning, Corbyn committed himself to confronting unequivocally the major anxiety of the people. Thousands of Kensington’s residents live in tower blocks. Nationally, that figure is in to the hundreds of thousands. Could they sleep safely in their beds, after such a dreadful fire?
While our Prime Minister cowers behind her security detail - and a right-wing press which will screamingly denounce Corbyn as an opportunist in tomorrow’s editions - the Labour leader has demonstrated his willingness to show some real leadership. Whatever he could do, he would do. There would be no pretence, no artifice.
Even before the Grenfell Tower fire, Theresa May’s approval ratings had fallen way behind Jeremy Corbyn’s. By now they will have plummeted. And all the time, another General Election looms. It might not be so easy for the press to con their readers next time.
If the fire had been two weeks earlier, Corbyn could now be PM.
There is a problem with Public Inquiries. The policitians, bureaucrats, architects and builders will all have their barristers - probably paid for by insurers. But what about the residents and their families? Dare I assume that May has also agreed to fund this?
Remember, never ever forget, Hillsborough.
Remember how the families fought for 27 years against lies and corruption that extended all the way up to ministerial offices and throughout the police force and legal profession. And of course right through rotten-to-the-core mainstream media who either reinforced the lies or ignored the truth.
Never, ever forget. Because the same mindset will try to do the same in this case.
NEVER TRUST ANY OF THEM. NOT EVER.
I get the impression that the entire relief effort is being driven by voluntary groups and local volunteers.
My feelings are similar to the situation with food banks.
These people are doing a marvelous job, all credit to them, but where is the caring face of the welfare state in this emergency?
All she had to do was spend half an hour meeting some of the residents, show some empathy, express her horror at what had happened, assure the survivors that they will be looked after and insist that an inquiry will get to the bottom of the tragedy. Not too much to ask. And she couldnt even do that. May is an utter disgrace and brings shame to her office. She must go and soon.
Re the comment that if it had happened 2 weeks earlier etc..another feature of this election has been how dramatic and terrible events including terrorism have suddenly had the opposite effect. Rather than entrench the party in power with people feeling uneasy about change at times of crisis, they have chosen change.
Coupled with a quite obvious plunge in the power of tabloid media to twist facts and influence an election, we seem to be entering a new era where the same old endless cliches and basic lies and conning of voters, are just not washing.
Corbyn and the times have arrived together in sync and power is there for his taking if he continues on the same path.
The same appears to have happened in the USA with Trump getting such a large vote but of course the US being what it is, a flim flam man was able to convince tens of millions he was their savior from free market austerity etc etc when he is the opposite.
Re voluntary groups doing the work.
In case the OP hadn't realised the welfare 'props' of the UK have been dismantled over the last 30 years and almost completely destroyed since 2010.
Remember the 'Big Society'? This was the excuse for withdrawing billions from local authorities. It gives others a chance to take over services, however the money was withdrawn before the 'others' had been secured to take over the services. .
What you see now is the result of the failure of the Big Society. Ask most people and they want and expect Local Authorities to step in and coordinate actions following disasters such as this, unfortunately the resouces just aren't there anymore so its down to locals and in extreme circumstances the armed services. At best Local Authorities can coordinate, but with such fragmentation even this isn't straightforward.
continuing the welfare state thoughts. Did we ever have a single entity which could handle disaster management? Even before the cuts we would have had a variety of national and local government departments arguing with each other - and volunteers from Red Cross and Salvation Army pitching in on the ground.
No it isn't.The local emergency plan has been enacted. The donations by the public are a wonderful extra.I'm rather concerned there are reports that survivors are sleeping in the street. This is completely untrue.
If you look at the website of your local council, it will give details of your local emergency plan.
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