Boris Johnson and the Grenfell Tower inferno
24 June 2017
When the list is drawn up of those criminally responsible for the Grenfell Tower fire in London, Boris Johnson’s name should be at the top.
The former mayor of London (2008-2016) recently condemned what he described as “political game-playing” over the inferno in west London that claimed the lives of at least 79 people. Suggestions that “this tragedy was somehow caused by fire service cuts” were “unbelievable,” he declared.
Johnson spoke as a video clip from 2013 became widely viewed on YouTube. In it he is seen telling a Labour Party London Assembly member to “get stuffed” when he accuses Johnson of lying over the scale and consequences of cuts to the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
Now foreign secretary, Johnson styles himself as the enfant-terrible of the Conservative Party. His famed outbursts, however, have nothing to do with unorthodoxy or “plain speaking.”
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, as he is more properly known, epitomises the class arrogance and social privilege of Britain’s upper-middle class. This is a man whose experience with the “lower classes” extends only to giving orders.
If Johnson is reacting so defensively, it is because in his capacity as mayor he forced through massive cuts in the LFB budget despite repeated warnings they would cost lives.
The London fire service is the fifth largest in the world and covers a metropolitan area of nearly 14 million people—the most populous in the European Union. In addition to firefighting, it responds to emergency situations, including traffic accidents and terror incidents, of which there have been three in the capital in the last four months.
Johnson took a sledgehammer to this vital provision. In 2012, he…