THE contemptuous treatment of the survivors of the fire that killed 80 people at least has been sickening.
Last week it emerged that those who had been placed in emergency hotel accommodation had been informed by Tory run Kensington and Chelsea council that they would have to leave by 4pm last Friday, as the hotel had prior bookings that took precedence.
On being given just hours to pack what few belongings they had, all that the council would offer was an emergency telephone number for them to ring while the council tried to move them to unspecified locations. Some of these locations turned out to be completely unsuitable, with families split up or put up in poor quality bed and breakfast accommodation with showers that don’t work. Those in hotels have no idea how long they will be staying and are forced to phone every day to check where to go.
The contempt for the survivors doesn’t stop at pushing them from pillar to post in sub-standard temporary accommodation with no commitment to re-house them in the area. It extends right into the treatment meted out to them on every level, including the very obvious plot to protect the Tory government and the council from being held responsible.
This contempt was demonstrated last Thursday night, when the council closed down the first council meeting since the fire after the high court ruled that excluding the press was illegal.
Such was the outcry that council leader, Nick Paget-Brown, was forced to resign making it four men at the centre of the Grenfell Tower scandal who have been forced out. One of these men, Nicholas Holgate, is reported in the press as being expected to receive a ‘six figure payout’ for resigning.
So payouts for those who had responsibility for ignoring all the warnings from tenants and the fire brigade about the risks of using inflammable cladding while for the victims nothing but being shunted around and left in the dark. So far only 65 offers of temporary accommodation have been made.
The survivors of this atrocity, along with the entire general public, are demanding full disclosure and that legal action be taken against those responsible.
At the moment they are being told nothing, no-one even knows how many actually survived let alone how many were injured or died.
In the meantime the Tory government has announced that a public inquiry will be held and appointed a retired commercial judge, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, to preside over it. This has caused an uproar as this judge has previous form when it comes to social ‘cleansing’.
As a judge, he made the controversial decision that allowed Westminster Council to re-house a homeless mother-of-five 50 miles away in Milton Keynes, a decision that was described by a solicitor involved in the case as giving Westminster council ‘the green light for social cleansing . . . setting a terrible precedent for local authorities to engage in social cleansing of the poor on a mass scale.’
This decision was later overturned by the high court on appeal but the fact remains that the man in charge of the inquiry has been chosen by May for his track record of support for sending social housing tenants miles out of London in order for councils to rip down their homes and build luxury apartments.
The scale of the risk caused by cost-cutting in order to save money, even at the expense of the lives of workers and their families, is enormous as cladding on 181 high rise buildings across 51 local authorities in England have failed fire safety tests according to latest figures, while cladding on schools and student accommodation have also failed fire tests.
The victims of the Grenfell fire are demanding that those responsible for the tragedy be brought before the courts and jailed for their crimes.
The whole working class will join them in this and go further in demanding that the entire capitalist system of private profit is overthrown.
This means demanding the TUC act by calling a general strike to kick out this weak, minority Tory government and go forward to a workers government that will implement socialist policies including the provision of safe, decent housing for all.