The political implications of the Grenfell Tower fire
27 June 2017
There are events in world history that lead to a fundamental change in consciousness and create the basis for developing a socialist political orientation among broad masses of workers. The June 14 Grenfell Tower inferno is such an event.
In years to come it will be necessary to refer to the political life of Britain in terms of “before” and “after” Grenfell. This is because the tragedy has so cruelly exposed the underlying reality of social relations between the classes—and it did so in London, one of the richest cities in the world, and in London’s richest constituency.
Grenfell is a national disaster. Thirteen days after Britain’s deadliest fire for over 100 years, there is still no official acknowledgement of the numbers killed—either because the powers-that-be dare not admit to the death toll or they are so indifferent to the lives of Grenfell’s residents that they simply do not know.
Every day brings fresh accounts of the unprecedented scale of the disaster—of residents perishing without hope of rescue, firefighters describing scenes of an apocalypse, the anguish of survivors, relatives and local residents.
Hundreds of thousands have had their lives and those of their children placed in danger. There are 600 residential council tower blocks with the same cladding and insulation that turned a small fire into an all-consuming conflagration. Every single sample from 75 tower blocks thus far examined has proven unsafe.
Now 30,000 schools are under investigation, as well as hospitals, student residence halls, hotels and a football stadium. There is yet to be a serious investigation of offices, shopping centres or other commercial properties.
Grenfell has assumed international dimensions….