010: GRENFELL TOWER, NEVER AGAIN
In recent times, London has been at the forefront of news for a number of negative reasons. From Brexit, and the state of our government in general, to the increasingly frequent and harrowing attacks on innocent members of the public, Londoners have bore witness to events that have rocked us to our core. What has happened this week, however, has personally put me over the edge. In the early hours of Wednesday 14th June 2017, a fire broke out in a flat in Grenfell Tower, West London. By the time most Londoners were waking up, the tower was completely engulfed in flames; consumed by a violent fire that showed no signs of abating. The scenes of chaos and despair could be straight out of an apocalyptic movie, and I have followed the events in a state of anger and utter disbelief. DI$UNOMICS is primarily an economic blog, but this tragedy needs to be discussed.
Before we start
I think it would be best to begin with democracy, the so-called cornerstone of Western society. Democracy is the mode of government where we, the citizens of a state, use our voting power to elect people to form a ruling government. From the butcher, to the undergraduate, to the investment banker, to the pensioner, we all have power to decide who will run the country on our behalf. We decide who runs the country. Us. Everyone in this damned nation of ours.
Larry Diamond suggested that democracy consists of four key segments:
· A political system for selecting and replacing governments via free and fair elections
· The active participation of people as citizens in politics
· The protection of the human rights of all citizens
· A rule of law which is applicable to every single citizen in equal measure
The people choose those who are in the Houses of Parliament and in local councils. The elected work for us. A democratically-elected government’s job description specifies that they must act in the best interests of the people. To this end, their number one priority is to guarantee our safety and living conditions. That is of utmost and irrefutable importance. We do not elect a parliament so that they can throw a drink-up with their buddies from professional services and cut deals that line their pockets. Na fam. Look at it this way, what do we expect from the average parent? To look after and nurture their kids. I don’t know about you but I’m yet to meet someone who told their mum, by manipulating space and time, to give birth to them. That, in most cases, was due to the choices consenting adults make. Once that decision has been made, we expect their number one priority is to ensure that child is safe and well looked after. You can draw similar parallels with politics. As far as I am aware, nobody working in a local council or in Westminster was forced to do so, by the law or any other means. I cannot imagine local goons pulling up to someone, like:
“Yo fam, hear what, yeah, this is what you gunna do for man. Since you don’t know how to run me my pees, you are going to work for f***** Brent council yeah, Mon to Fri, yeah, and I don’t wanna hear you say ‘low me. Nonna that chat.”
Nobody forces a candidate to run for office. Furthermore, we expect that they are well-versed and fully-briefed on what the role entails, with all the codes of conduct and ethics that accompany. When such codes are directly attached to the safety of the constituents, adhering to them should not be optional. The events of this week, however, have shown that this could very well be the case; the authorities have cut corners and failed the residents of Grenfell Tower miserably.
The residents of Grenfell Tower had previously raised bucket loads of concerns over the living conditions of their residence. An alarming concern was that a gigantic tower block, home to at least six hundred people, only had one escape route. One exit. Sickening. They also raised concerns over the placement of boilers, as well as gas pipes, and a complete absence of sprinklers and fire alarms. These complaints were lodged with the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), but to no avail. How the hell, in a city like London, one of the top five largest city economies on the planet, can a building of residence have such an assortment of extreme safety hazards. How much does it cost to install fire alarms? How does a blueprint for the housing of six hundred people be approved with one exit/escape route? Sprinklers? I have seen a lot of people angrily question the austerity measures by the Conservative government (Austerity cripples economies; if you don’t believe me go ask Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece & Portugal). I am in lockstep when it comes to austerity bashing. However, even if we are undergoing the most severe of austerity the number one priority when it comes to allocating OUR money is to guarantee our safety. Before anything else. That isn’t even up for discussion. If it means run into deficits then we run into flipping deficits. Do you know how many households are up to their neck in debts? How many households after taking care of expenses are left with peanuts? Guaranteeing their kids, their partners, their family members are safe, clothed and fed. Me personally I am fortunate to have two parents, my mum came from a small village in Ondo state Nigeria who had to walk for 2 hours just to attend school. She had to cook from age 8! My dad grew up in downtown Lagos, where you will be walking through ends and chickens & goats will be in your way you know. Goats out here in the streets discussing Wenger out. They came to the United Kingdom (legally pls Brexit mandem ) in their early 20s and worked their butts off to provide me and my annoying siblings a better life than theirs. They grew up in way tougher environments than we have here. They could easily do YMCMB and prioritise their dreams and wants. My parents will happily eat oxygen & ketchup as long as my siblings & me are sorted. That is because they know that’s their job description, but they still go above and beyond. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate, whether its with you & your kids or parents. KCTMO didn’t act like our parents. We have also seen the flipside of what happens when parents neglect their children and it leads to casualties. Those parents end up in jail, because they are liable for the safety of their children. They simply ignored the cries of innocent working class regular people. In November 2016 the Grenfell Action Group warned of “dangerous living conditions” and sited how only a “catastrophic event” would expose the KCTMO negligence. A resident raised 19 bloody complaints to no avail. She was told the board was SATISFIED the fire safety was in good shape. 90% of residents are said to have signed a petition. The residents of Grenfell undertook their part of democracy. Yet they were ignored? Why? Nobody can tell me that it’s because of lack of funding. Please believe they spent £10m on thermal cladding last year, which apparently made the fire spread at an increase velocity. TEN MILLION GREAT BRITISH POUND STERLING and you can’t add a door, fire alarms and sprinklers? Because of what? Why the hell are these people not doing their job? Working class people just don’t matter that’s why. Our lives have less value if we judge by the actions of the authorities. I’ve been all around London, I’ve seen the difference in police presence in wealthy neighbourhoods compared to less fortunate ones. Wealthier neighbourhoods are less likely to be experience crime but they have more police presence? Why? Money talks. No chance buildings filled with wealthy high fliers would have to write 19 times? By the second letter someone is getting sacked rudeboy. This isn’t even the first time a tragedy fuelled by negligence has even happened in the city of London. In 2009 6 people died in a similar incident in Southwark, which lead to the council pleading guilty to four counts of breaking fire safety regulations https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/24/southwark-council-admits-safety-failings-tower-block-lakanal-house-blaze How can authorities have the audacity to even be so demonically negligent after such a tragedy.
A London council has pleaded guilty to four counts of breaking fire safety regulations over a blaze in a 14-storey tower block that killed six people.
What is next for us? We need to ramp up the pressure to the absolute maximum. We can never ever let the authorities get comfortable again. NO more cutting corners. We must force them to do their jobs. I want every person in a tower block of some sort to contact their local council, private landlord or housing association demanding an update on the safety of their building, details of when the last checks where made, details of the fire precautions etc. I am going to create template emails/letters for anybody who wants them. With this monstrosity and the presence of social media no council in their right minds will ignore the will of the people. We must force them to do their jobs. June 8th 2017 saw the highest voter turnout in 25 years. The people are waking up; we need to keep the pressure on man. Our living costs are rocketing, our real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) rank 103 out of 112 countries!!!!!!!!!!!!! A whole United Kingdom my gees. We cannot tolerate this type of insanity. God bless everybody who showed compassion to help the residents of Grenfell Tower. That community spirit is something I have personally never witnessed. I believe that this solidarity must be also used to be active in local communities. We need to know who is in our local councils. Know what they have been doing and match it with what we expect them to be doing. Use your social media; use your voice and lets put the pressure on these people. I always say incentive influences behaviour. Naturally personal incentive of politicians has them prioritising winning elections & progressing up the ranks over the needs of the people that elected them in the first place. It’s now evident that they need forcing so that is what we need to do. I don’t have all the answers I’m sure many readers have good suggestions to how we can stop this type of madness ever occurring again. Please hit me up!
I didn’t even plan for this post. I am literally just rambling on so I apologise for the inevitable lack of structure and pizzazz but I am just angry man. I am disgusted that a country this wealthy treats working class ordinary people as disposable. I’m proper not here for it. Do you fucking job or we will find somebody else who will.