Ostensibly, society needed Grenfell. Grenfell was a community in South West London; skilled, qualified, and, until last summer, full of life. In June 2017 Grenfell Tower went up in flames entirely due to government negligence, leading to families without homes to return too and having to spend Christmas in recovery from the most severe trauma imaginable.
Offensively to the victims and emergency services the issue of Grenfell has been hoist to the mast of politicking by those with the most to lose from a truthful account of that nights harrowing events. Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to hone the attack on Theresa May in an earnest endeavour to hold Tory rule to account for fanning a culture in which the poor are bereft of concern. However, the executive’s concern still concentrates on funding selfish elite lifestyles off the public safety purse. Insofar as the Tories are pioneers of spin, blaming Corbyn for somehow “using” the event is itself an admission of guilt and demonstrates that it is the Prime Minister who is the one really liable. Corbyn cried with and consoled the people, whereas May engineered a media spectacle flanked by armed security whilst dragging along the issue with her iron claws for months to suit a narrow agenda.
The last day of the Parliamentary inquiry into the causes and failures saw a broad list of outstanding charges and criminal negligence amongst a toxic culture of complacency and impunity that culminated in an unwillingness on behalf of the authorities to meet statutory safety requirements. Testimonies by victims and their families all laid the blame squarely at politicians’ feet.
Whereas incisive criticism has exposed incompetence in government and media when public atrocities occur, this particular episode has redeemed our press to the extent that they, to our knowledge, have not scoured the private life of victims in the way that is the raison d’être of post murdochian tabloid journalism. Indeed, the press has performed exemplary service in its role as an independent auditor of government. In its concern for justice for the victims, the liberal media proved it is itself alive and up to the task of upholding the most basic of moral principles. It unanimously concluded that the circumstances surrounding Grenfell were indicative of government negligence, a startling but plausible event when people’s safety is placed below the profit margin.
Enormous trauma and distress has ensued. It is partially assuaged by public solidarity and meaningful gestures of care. But the pain is compounded by the reminder of May in rule, a regent so far removed from rot, rust, and the raging fire that tore apart the lives of so many.
Community life is beautiful. May’s spectacle ought to be the only thing condemned to the ashes whilst the spirit of Grenfell will undoubtedly rise from the ashes and long outlive it.