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Grenfell Tower fire is a turning point in British politics

20 Jun , 2017  

By  -  
Mike is the co-editor of Consented.co.uk and host of Consented TV

The death toll rises, the scandals mount and the public outcry grows. What happened to the residents of Grenfell Tower and why has resonated with the British people. The nation (or the nations) will never be the same again.

The horrifying tales of mismanagement and million-dollar flammable makeovers at Grenfell Tower, along with the sensationalist use of the harrowing photos and videos of the fire itself, have meant that the tragedy has become about so much more than the initial disaster.

Formerly tame Labour MPs are now calling for neoliberalism to burn, not people. The Prime Minister is heckled and ridiculed everywhere she goes, and people are up in arms, storming council meetings, protesting outside of 10 Downing Street and demanding justice.

More and more people in the UK are now refusing to accept the tired old logic of the status quo, be that in regards to economic orthodoxy, social justice or political possibilities.

The UK, so long the supposed bastion of small “c” conservatism, unlike its raunchier continental neighbours, has once again been forced to find its radical spirit.

All of this, of course, has come against the back drop of the Tories conducting, in their own words, the worst election campaign in their history, with Labour registering its greatest swing in votes since Clement Attlee in 1945 as the Conservatives imploded.

Theresa May and her ilk have been in power since 2010, seven long years for many – although nothing compared to Thatcher’s and Major’s combined eighteen years at the helm, or even Tony Blair’s and Brown’s thirteen-year stint – yet in those seven years the Tories have been busy.

The economic decisions made by Cameron and Osborne (with May as Home Secretary) have resulted in falling wages, rising debt, crumbling public services and growing fortunes. And it is these fortunes in particular that have become the foundations of the latest outburst of fury.

Whilst the vast majority of people were told to tighten their belts in order to help pay off the nation’s debt, a wealthy minority became even wealthier.

So much so that the UK, and London in particular, was transformed into the centre of international property speculation, forcing most to the periphery as luxury flats and homes were purchased by millionaires and billionaires and left empty as investments, a form of “land banking” in the words Jeremy Corbyn.

And it took Corbyn becoming leader of the opposition for this anger to find a voice in the UK’s parliamentary system – people had of course been organising, protesting and fighting back against these injustices long before the MP for Islington North rose to prominence.

Nevertheless, after taking away the Conservatives’ dreams of a huge parliamentary majority and forcing them to cuddle up to the most reactionary party in the Commons, Labour under Corbyn seemingly knew no bounds.

Ahead in the polls for the first time in years, thanks to its most radical manifesto and leadership in generations, and with pundits predicting a Labour victory if another election was to be called, it seemed the Tories had to go.

Then came the fire.

May was already allegedly looking to resign before the tower went up in flames and now the word around Parliament is that she’s being forced to remain as Prime Minister whilst the rest of her party frantically look for a less toxic replacement, seemingly to no avail.

It has become difficult to keep up with all the incompetence and mismanagement emanating from the party. It seems it is simply a question of time in regards to their final electoral demise.

In short, the flames that engulfed Grenfell tower and took the lives of so many people, have come to represent the destruction caused by the political project the UK and much of the rest of the world have adopted since the 1980s.

The literal layering over of poverty and suffering with a shiny superficial surface could not better represent the way in which society has been transformed over the last few decades.

Many have tried to speak out against the blind arrogance and callousness of successive governments, think tanks, multinationals and wealthy individuals only to be silenced by macro-economic data allegedly pointy to “progress”.

Yet now it seems that such tactics will no longer work. People are rightfully angry and are demanding answers, justice and change.

It remains to be seen whether or not any of that can be achieved by a Labour Party headed by Corbyn, but what is certain is that things cannot go back to how they were before the fire.

It is heart breaking that lives seemingly always have to be lost before the prevailing dogma can be jettisoned, but those who remain are already fighting to make sure the lives of their loved ones, and the lives of countless others, no longer prop up the madness that has been allowed to prevail for so long.


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