Over the last few days, we have all been engrossed or captivated for a better word by the tragic events that unfolded at Grenfell Towers!
We all seen the drill…. a tragic event happens.. we realise that residents and locals have been warning about this possibility for months, even years…. instead of them being listened to, they were threatened, bullied or gagged… then there are interviews with officials who initially try to distract or blame others, then either resign, talk about ‘lessons will be learnt’ and carry on as usual. Many are re-employed back under different positions. Truth leaks out and then there is acknowledgement of failure and an inquiry is called. Years go by and most forget leaving the grieving to cope on their own. Inquiry findings confirm what is known already, waste millions which if spent earlier as requested by the people before they became victims, would have prevented the tragedy in the first place! In other cases, those to be blamed have retired or have passed away. No one actually gets caught, no one really compensated. In this case what is needed is a Judicial Inquest.
During and in the aftermath of the tragedy, the victims are quickly forgotten and the usual media circus ensues. The 24 hour media seems to be able to take live pictures, streaming minute by minute update of the tragedy as it unfolds. People of course come to pay their respects, take photos of the location, write on walls, donate a few things…. post it on FB even. Vigil takes place. We all do this and then feel better about it afterwards, often forgetting the victim as time goes by. What happens to the victims afterwards when the cameras are gone? Many of the residents who survived and even locals who witnessed this tragedy unfold will need help & support to deal with this grief.
Politicians thank our brave firemen, Police, other emergency services… then there are the usual hugs all captured by the ever-present cameras! Those same public servants are vilified on all other days by our right-wing media & crucified systematically monetarily by the right wing neoliberal government hell-bent on outsourcing most functions of a responsible government.
For a building to catch fire and burn so quickly, failures have had to happen at so many stages from the architect’s office, the surveyors, design & planning approvals, lack of regular safety checks in between, constant neglect by councillors, private companies making & selling these unsafe flammable cladding, dangers not flagged up, procurement department buying these shoddy products, quality control not doing their job or forced not to, someone approving £10mn reburbishment for aesthetics rather than safety, the banks that approve these developments, the landlords and the insurance companies too… its shambles… this shows a complete failure of check and balance in the whole system! It suggests a level of complicit behaviour, knowing or unknowing, that is shocking & beyond belief!
Now multiply this thousands of times over and we realise the scale of the problem we now face in all the tower blocks and public buildings, across our country, many of which have similar cladding and hence similar inherent risks!
“We are sending boxes and food… to who? None of the people I grew up with, I can’t find anyone! Where are they?” asks Nadia, a distressed resident speaking to PressTV. Haven’t most residents in that building died? We don’t even know how many people were in that building! Was it 400? Was it as high as 600? Those on the missing list have not been checked against the bodies lying in the body bags in the tents! (Jane interviewed by Ashish Joshi -Sky News) Who is identifying the dead? When will the relatives, if they have survived be contacted? When will these people who government failed to give dignity in life, allow them dignity in death? Why is the media not asking these questions repeatedly until we find the answers?
No one has communicated! No one has owned up in the aftermath of the tragedy! No one has even apologised! No one has resigned. Pages have been removed from Council websites. Why are they all in hiding &/or being non-transparent? Is this seen as a price perhaps worth paying .. the eye-sore… the expendables.. the inevitable casualties of their greed, selfish life styles and corruption? How did we get to a situation when ordinary law-abiding citizens who have lost loved ones, family and friends, neighbours felt the need to storm the council offices?
Interviews by Jon Snow of local residents and those of David Lammy MP, Rapper LowKey, grassroots activist David Vujanic & Singer Lily Allen were very moving &/or thought-provoking. You’ll find these and other media clips of residents on my twitter account.
PM Theresa May more worried about her approvals, clings on to power. Jeremy Corbyn who met faith leaders, met many in the community centre and was warmly received. Queen & Prince William too took the time to chat with residents there. In sharp contrast to that, May had to be rushed out of the side door of a church with chants of ‘Coward’ & ‘Scum’. Even her last minute interview with Laura Kuenssberg exposed her desperation. If she is unseated, how can she ensure that Brexit will benefit Bankers, rather than the ordinary folk! She has failed completely to understand the scale of the challenge we face. She completely lacks the compassion and empathy needed to soften such tragic blows and show leadership when people need it the most! She lacks the common touch & has been part of a government that could have prevented such a tragedy in the first place. Simply put, cuts have consequences!
Even if all the things she mentioned in her interview were implemented immediately, it is simply not adequate! Valuing life of residents of Grenfell Towers at £8333 approx (David Vujanic) is laughable and even insulting! Reports suggest that people are forced to leave local areas where they grew up and shifted further up north, away from their families, friends and communties. If they reject the offer that includes £5500, they will be deemed ‘intentionally homeless’ and lose benefits. I am fed up of more of the same. Aren’t you? I don’t want us to be in this ‘Ground Hog’ scenario again. Enough is Enough!
We need a change in our mind-set. We need true leadership. We need to be led differently. We need someone who has the vision to ask a different set of questions, someone who has different priorities, someone who cares for the many forgotten.
It is indeed time for change before we see another tragedy that will claim even more lives.
( @GaurangMorjaria WeThePeople )