In the wake of the catastrophic fire which consumed the Grenfell Tower earlier this month, local authorities across the country have been reviewing the safety of high rise blocks on their patches. As a result, Camden council ordered the evacuation of towers on the Chalcots estate in Swiss Cottage yesterday evening. The blocks had multiple safety issues - it wasn’t just about potentially flammable cladding.
He's desperate, Dan
As the BBC reported, “Camden Council said it will remove external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate … It also said there were concerns about the insulation of gas pipes going into flats, and fire doors”. But one know-all member of the Pundit Establishment knew better: the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges duly dispensed his superior insights.
Whatever was happening in Camden, he declared, was wrong: “Sorry. Camden ‘evacuation’ is nuts. People need to get a grip”. He then doubled down in no style at all, ranting “Grenfell was horrific. But this is becoming a Death of Diana moment. Needs some sense of perspective”. At least 79 people - and probably many more - incinerated in their homes, and efforts to prevent a recurrence are a “Death of Diana moment”. Ri-i-i-ight.
The response to this singularly ill-judged Twitter excursion was typified by Ellie Mae O’Hagan, who took issue with the Diana comparison: “No, it's like Hillsborough. Rage and despair at injustice, the sense that it was a crime not a tragedy, the fear that nothing will change”. Hodges’ flippant comeback to her did not help his standing: “You're being facetious and disrespectful about the deaths of innocent people including children now”.
Another passing severely adverse comment on Hodges’ stance was Lauri Love, responding to Desperate Dan’s punt on cladding with “who gives a shit? it needs to come off because it's been shown to be incredibly hazardous to human life”, and exposing Hodges’ ignorance when he asked “are you seriously suggesting they're paying to have people temporarily rehoused at expense without risk warranting it out of some dramatics?”
Hodges was saying exactly that. The London Fire Brigade had told Camden Council they could not guarantee the safety of residents in those buildings. There’s Mail on Sunday research standards for you. Meanwhile, Dawn Foster joined the ranks of those objecting to the Diana quip: “Dan, dozens of people died in a preventable tragedy and were let down by the law and the state. No comparison”. The Great Man disagreed.
People, he declared, were thinking emotionally, not rationally, an opinion which might have proved interesting to the London Fire Brigade. Ms Foster was yet more unimpressed: “You can do both. People are angry because the state failed them. I've reported from day one and there is no comparison. Grow up”. Hodges’ campaign had, not for the first time, progressed not necessarily to his advantage.
Still, what’s another lost argument to an overpaid pundit who called the Labour leadership, EU referendum and US Presidential election all wrong? Stay classy, Dan.