A blog by Christopher James Stone.
I had an email the other day from an associate, bemoaning Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at Glastonbury, saying that he was acting like some kind of a Messiah for all those white, middle class kids, using the Grenfell tragedy for political point scoring and saying he has a “Messiah Complex”. Here is my reply:
What do you want me to say?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Remember, Corbyn only got onto the leadership ticket because a couple of Labour establishment figures thought we needed a proper debate and agreed to include a left winger. This is because the Labour Party had been transformed under Tony Blair into a centralised neo-liberal party in which constituencies no longer got to choose who their candidate was. They were mainly Blair loyalists parachuted in from central office. But once Corbyn was on the ticket it galvanised the membership in the Labour Party who wanted…
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They warned about fire, several times: they were ignored;
the block went up in flames: an uncounted number of them died (survivors have been warned the dead may never be properly counted);
the council that owned the block went invisible and residents were left to support each other: they did so;
the community went to look for the council: the council officers locked the front doors and slunk out the back;
a prime minister turned up and talked to the fire chief: she went away again without talking to anybody else;
she came back the next day after protests, but it was too late: they shouted at her and called her names;
the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and local residents said they wanted a wide-ranging inquiry into the fire (its causes and the culprits as well as the details of what happened): they haven’t got it;
they wanted a say in who should chair the inquiry: they haven’t got it;
the prime minister appointed a retired judge whose record on standing up for residents against the arbitrary decisions of their local council is non-existent: he decided in favour of Westminster council when they rehoused tenants 50 miles from Westminster. The tenants appealed against the decision and won. When Kensington tenants tried to explain to him yesterday why they had no confidence in his judgment he seemed incapable of grasping the point.
The thing is: the days have gone (if they ever really existed) when grey-haired and grave-faced judges automatically inspired trust. They don’t. They inspire suspicion and contempt. Sir Martin Moore-Bick is, of course, incapable of recognising why that is. He just thinks people are being difficult (they’re tower-block people after all). He just thinks they’re ignorant. But they know they’re not. They’ve had years of experience of being treated like shit by people like him. They want him out. They want a proper inquiry, where they choose who they trust and ask all the questions they want to ask until they’re satisfied with the answers.
What’s going to happen? Who knows? I wish I was in London. I may go down there next week and take up Ben Okri’s challenge to “Go see the tower”. There’s somewhere else I want to go too: Finsbury Park, where the Islamophobic attack took place last week. I’ve known Finsbury Park all my life. It’s been called rubbish all that time, but its people have survived. And it isn’t just fascists who target the population there. The Blair government requisitioned one of the hotels there (the Pembury) and turned it into a detention centre for refugees they were preparing to deport. Outside, it still looked like a hotel. Inside, asylum seekers were treated like shit, their life stories disbelieved, their warnings of further persecution if they were sent back ignored, like the warnings of fire in Kensington. But my friends who were in the Pembury (Arben and Mira from Kosovo and their two children) survived. The Imam and his congregation at the mosque will survive too. So will the despised people of Kensington. I hope they get their proper inquiry. I don’t think they’ll settle for less.
A fortnight after the Grenfell inferno it is still beyond us to know with any degree of precision just how many people were burned alive, suffocated to death or killed as a result of blunt force trauma in the early hours of June 14. Indeed Scotland Yard warned yesterday that it could be months before the total loss of life is ascertained, with some reports suggesting that as many as 300 people are still unaccounted for and therefore presumed dead. This in addition to the 80 victims whose deaths have already been officially confirmed.
But there is at least one aspect of this monstrous crime that can be discussed with the greatest certitude, namely the cladding which, in the words of the Grenfell Action Group, ‘played a major part in spreading and accelerating what began as a single-dwelling fire’ and as such ‘rendered standard fire safety advice redundant’.
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God’s got a direct line
to Downing Street
by a covenant of equivocation
and hellfire in a field of wheat;
a billion sly indulgences that wryly speak
“out-toried”, sit inglorious upon the mercy seat.
A shadow of things to come.
Read this, from Jayne Linney
A short rant on equality, you make your own mind up.
After yesterdays announcement of the Tories £1.5+ BILLION gift to DUP for Votes, today we learn disabled patients requiring a wheelchair are essentially reliant upon begging. It transpires disabled people unable to afford and needing, an alternative to the NHS 44lb wheelchair, is being forced to raise their own funds to purchase suitable equipment.
The wheelchairs available from the NHS is not only unwieldy but “manoeuvring the devices risks causing damage” , however the price of a suitable chair can cost Thousands. Given that disabled people have already been hardest hit by the plethora of Cuts, in particular by vast array of issues experienced during those transferring from DLA to PIP it seems fair to assume many of the 13 million people in UK can not afford the potential £10,000.
It appears that if you’re a DUP MP…
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London awoke this morning to the news that a blaze had ripped through Grenfell Tower in Notting Hill late last night, leaving at least twelve people dead and several hundreds homeless. The magnitude of the destruction is horrific — truly shocking — and everything must be done — indeed, heart-warmingly, is being done it seems — to provide for the needs of all those who have been hurt and dislocated.
As what remains of the tower block continues to burn, we who watch it do so cannot afford to shirk the difficult issues at the heart of this disaster; we cannot reasonably give in to pleas not to ‘politicise’ what occurred, for it was nothing if not fundamentally ‘political’. For example, residents of the property had repeatedly told the local council — controlled by Tories — that living conditions in the building were ‘dangerous’ and that it was not up…
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