IT EMERGED this week that the company hired by the Tories to test for flammable cladding on government and other public buildings in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity has been ‘gagged’ from criticising prime minister Theresa May.
The company, WSP, was required to sign a UK government contract worth in excess of £100,000 to test these buildings twelve days after the fire at Grenfell which claimed the lives of 72 men, women and children.
A requirement of this deal was that WSP sign a gagging clause in the contract that insisted that the company did nothing publicly that could create ‘adverse publicity’ for, or ‘embarrass’, May or members of the Tory cabinet.
One member of her cabinet office and a close colleague of May’s who was at particular risk of exposure was her new chief of staff at the time, Gavin Barwell. Barwell was one of a succession of Tory housing ministers who had ‘sat on’ and blocked a report warning that high-rise blocks like Grenfell were at extreme risk from flammable cladding for four years before the inferno!
The Tories desperate attempts to cover up their complicity with the cladding companies in covering tower blocks across the country with flammable material didn’t just start after the Grenfell fire.
Apart from them blocking the report recommending the removal of these incendiary death traps, Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Council threatened a resident of Grenfell Tower with court action to stop him from blogging about fire safety in the block, accusing him of ‘defamatory behaviour’ and ‘harassment’.
Labour MP David Lammy said of the gagging clause in the WSP contract that it demonstrated ‘unforgivable cowardice’ on the part of May – in fact it demonstrates above all the fear of the Tories about the hatred that this atrocity has caused throughout the working class towards them and the companies that pocketed billions out of their murderous cost-cutting.
The total disregard of the Tories and bosses towards the lives of working people has repulsed millions. The Tories are not just in a panic over the revelations about Grenfell.
Last month, it emerged that these gagging orders are rampant for companies and charities involved in working with families that have been devastated by Universal Credit.
Charities and groups working with claimants have been made to sign ‘gagging clauses’ that ban them from criticising or harming Tory work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey. According to newspaper reports, over 22 organisations have signed an agreement as part of deals concerning government funding of projects to help the unemployed find work.
This agreement contains a clause which orders them to ‘pay utmost regard to the standing and reputation’ of McVey and demands that they do ‘not do anything which might attract adverse publicity’ to her.
On Monday, McVey stood up in parliament and reeled off a list of charities which she claimed supported the roll-out of Universal Credit; no doubt she was confident that gagging clauses would prevent them from contradicting her.
In the event, her claims of support were repudiated by almost every charity. The plain truth is that all the gagging orders, blatant lies and cover-ups cannot salvage the reputation of May or McVey or any member of this Tory government.
They have earned the hatred of the working class for their criminal contempt for workers’ lives as seen at Grenfell and their determination to drive the working class into the most abject poverty through Universal Credit and austerity cuts.
They represent a bankrupt capitalist system that doesn’t give two hoots for anything except keeping their system alive by dumping the bankers’ crisis on the backs of the working class.
The hatred of workers towards this Tory government must now be turned into action by demanding that the TUC organise a general strike to kick them out and bring in a workers government and socialism.
A workers government will place the Tories and bosses in the dock to answer for their crimes against working people.