Editorial: Grenfell Tower Block disaster must be a turning point in our social history

London firefighters struggling to control Grenfell Tower blaze in daylight. Image: @Londonfire

The scale of the tower block tragedy in Latimer Road West London is unprecedented.

Several hundred Londoners in a social housing tower block, 24 storeys high, found themselves engulfed in flames in the early hours of the morning.

The efforts of hundreds of firefighters, medics and police officers could not save scores of victims from the inferno.

Multiple sources are suggesting the death toll is likely to make this the worst civilian fire disaster in living memory.

This is a social disaster that should shake our country’s political establishment and the morality of ‘austerity’ to its foundations.

Men, women and children have been killed, critically injured and traumatised in homes that should have given them safety, protection and the chance to survive a fire said to have started in a faulty fridge in one flat.

Why did it spread so quickly?

Why was the fire not dealt with and confined by a water sprinkling system?

Why did the central staircase not provide a secure escape route for all the residents in the building?

Why was there not a fire alarm system and process of evacuation that could work?

Video, sound recordings, and eye witness accounts have been harrowing beyond belief.

And why were the warnings of residents who predicted the catastrophe ignored?

Children can be heard screaming for their lives as our capital’s brave firefighters, medics and police struggled to save them.

The fact of the matter is that Grenfell Tower was home to people who are among our country’s poorest and most vulnerable.

For too long the modest people in our society, through austerity and the selfishness and neglect of the rich and powerful, have had to endure increasing social hardship and humiliation.

The ‘life is unfair’ creed and ‘making ends meet’ homily has been borne by those least able to afford it.

Now they have had to pay with their lives.

Public enquiry and political self-examination are the least that should be demanded.

Grenfell Tower is London’s Aberfan.

The implications and truth of what has happened will bring shame to London.

The humiliation and shame should also extend to a country where a rich, over-paid, privileged elite live in Lala land.

And the patronisingly labelled ‘just about managing’ majority struggle to pay exploitative private rentals, or social housing that kills them in the middle of the night.






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