On the 30th October the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire was released, with the report finding that the 72 people who perished could have been saved if the London fire brigade had evacuated earlier, The Guardian reports. The Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg then appeared on the radio station LBC earlier this week to discuss the findings of the public inquiry. Speaking to the host, Nick Ferrari, he said “[…] I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen,” reports the London Evening Standard. The Commons leader has since faced a barrage of criticism for his ‘insensitive’ and ‘appalling’ remarks and has said he “profoundly apologizes and would hate to upset the people of Grenfell,” The BBC reports.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen and leading Brexiteer then waded in on the argument to defend his Conservative colleague by suggesting that Jacob Rees-Mogg was “cleverer” than the victims of Grenfell Tower. He said that “[…] we want very clever people running the country, and that is a by-product of what Jacob is. And that is why he is in a position of authority,” Politics Home reports. What both of these Tory MPs who are in a position of power show, is a deep lack of understanding for the victims of Grenfell which highlights their inability to understand basic humanity. This is arguably due to their sense of status and wealth inherently tied to their privilege. This superiority led Rees-Mogg to add that he did not believe Grenfell had “[…] anything to do with race or class. It’s rather sad to raise these types of points over a great tragedy,” the Metro reports. For a white, middle/upperclassman to suggest Grenfell has nothing to do with race or class is shameful and deeply insensitive. The disparities of wealth within this country are burgeoning, with MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg failing to represent anybody not embroiled within the life of wealth, money and white privilege.
Grenfell Tower was a social housing building that housed some of Britain’s lowest-income citizens that relied on their council to provide a safe and comfortable shelter that is fundamentally deserved by all. However, the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council failed their citizens when they knowingly revoked the human rights of hundreds of families when they chose cheaper, highly flammable cladding, which in turn killed 72 people. The contempt for lower-income families was echoed on the 29th October, one day before the Grenfell Tower inquiry was released, when Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman tried to defend the poor living conditions in his constituency on the Victoria Derbyshire’s show. The show released a film showing families living on a damp, cockroach-infested, regeneration estate. The clip from the show, presented via Twitter, saw Brian expressing that he ‘absolutely could not live in these conditions’, with him adding that the ‘council owe the citizens nothing due to them being un-secured tenants, therefore having to make their own living arrangements’. The director Ken Loach who appeared alongside Brian said he could “[…] weep due to the contempt shown by council leaders and politicians in telling citizens that they don’t deserve anything and are not entitled to help. It is disgusting”.
This segment discussing citizens living in the inhumane conditions on the estate link directly to the situation of Grenfell Tower, due to the disdain shown by our government for anyone not seen to have any power. Families living amongst fire hazards and in squalid conditions are not being cared for by government officials due to the lack of understanding of destitution, hopelessness and hardship. The politicians currently holding the power over us have grown up within a bubble of abundance, prosperity and ease and lack a complete understanding of anyone not from their environment. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a statement after Rees-Moggs comments and said, “[…] what possesses someone to react to an entirely avoidable tragedy like Grenfell by saying victims lacked common sense?” reports Buzzfeed News. Campaign group, Grenfell United added in Buzzfeed News, “The leader of the house of commons suggesting that the 72 people who lost their lives at Grenfell lacked common sense is beyond disrespectful. It is extremely painful and insulting to bereaved families.”
Politicians and Council leaders appointed power and governance over society, must appropriately represent our multitude of cultures, races, classes and genders that formulate our country. Without correct representation, people are going to continue to fall behind and be forgotten solely for who they are. Blame should not be shifted to those in lower ranks to mask the incompetence of the most senior. It is time that politicians or anyone who possesses power are liable for their actions and words and are not guarded by power and wealth. With the general election looming, it is time to make a progressive change to ensure inclusion to all is at the forefront of policies and actions. Stand up for those weakened by negligence, speak up against hatefulness, positively advance our political backdrop, and fight up against conventions heckling anyone not derived from the conservative environment that is dimming the authenticity of this multifaceted country.
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