British government Grenfell Tower disaster cover-up?

This video from England says about itself:

17 June 2017

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in London to demand justice for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Report by Sarah Duffy.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Corbyn: PM is focusing on avoiding criticism in Grenfell inquiry

Friday 18th August 2017

JEREMY CORBYN has written to Prime Minister Theresa May demanding further action on the Grenfell inquiry.

In the letter released yesterday following the publication of the probe’s terms of reference, the Labour leader raises concerns about the “decision to exclude the broader social and political issues raised by the fire.”

Mr Corbyn says there is a fear that the government’s “priority is to avoid criticism” for policy failures “rather than secure justice for Grenfell survivors.”

In order to learn the lessons of the Grenfell fire, Mr Corbyn calls on the PM to set out a clear process that addressed “the broader failings that led to the Grenfell fire.”

Mr Corbyn also seeks guarantees that probe chief Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s assessors “will include people from minority backgrounds, as many residents have demanded.”

British Conservative government’s Grenfell Tower disaster cover-up

This video from London, England says about itself:

Justice for Grenfell Protest March – interviews with families

17 June 2017

People gathered at Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on Friday 16th June to confront the council over their handling of the Grenfell Tower fire. This was then followed by a peaceful march to Grenfell Tower. This video includes interviews with relatives of residents of Grenfell Tower and also John Sweeney of BBC Panorama.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Grenfell Probe ‘precisely what we feared’

Wednesday 16th August 2017

Tories ‘running scared’ after wider social housing concerns excluded from inquiry

LABOUR accused the government of “running scared” yesterday after it announced that the inquiry into the Grenfell fire disaster would not scrutinise survivors’ wider concerns about social housing.

Justice4Grenfell, one of the campaign groups working with survivors, insisted that — after the blaze killed at least 80 people and left many more homeless and without possessions — the probe must restore public confidence in the safety of tower blocks across Britain.

In the formal consultation that preceded yesterday’s announcement, the group called for the inquiry to look at how councils respond to large-scale emergencies and ensure that communities are listened to.

But Prime Minister Theresa May accepted the recommendations of its chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick, to ignore these concerns.

In a letter to the PM, the retired Court of Appeal judge said such issues would “raise questions of a social, economic and political nature” that are “not suitable” for a judge-led inquiry.

Instead, the focus should be on the causes of the fire, the design, construction and refurbishment of the building and the “adequacy” of regulations, he said.

Ms May also announced a separate review of social housing, to be carried out by Housing Minister Alok Sharma, whose wife is a private landlord.

Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, whose Kensington constituency covers the site of the fire, branded the government’s stance a “complete betrayal,” and “precisely what we feared.

“We were told: ‘No stone would be left unturned,’ but instead are being presented with a technical assessment which will not get to the heart of the problem: what effects, if any, the lack of investment into social housing had on the refurbishment project.

“We have no confidence whatever in the ability of Alok Sharma and a few politically compromised individuals to take on the task of answering this most important question.”

The scope of the probe was announced less than two weeks after the public consultation closed, having receiving 550 submissions, leading Ms Dent Coad to ask: “How can the community possibly have faith in an inquiry with terms of reference so hastily determined by the Prime Minister and her government?

“Clearly, the government is running scared.”

The probe will, however, examine the actions of authorities before the inferno, including Tory-controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council, and how the aftermath was handled by both the local council and central government in the aftermath.

Justice4Grenfell spokeswoman Yvette Williams said that Mr Moore-Bick “is not looking at the broader social issues for one, which we think is majorly central to this situation.”

And she warned: “If he goes on with no community advisory rep, we would have a lot to say about that.”

A spokesperson for the Radical Housing Network campaign group said: “Prime Minister May pays lip service to ‘broad questions on social housing policy’ and yet these very questions are excluded from the inquiry terms.

“Investigators should be looking at the social policies which allowed such a tragedy in 21st-century Britain and the way these have created a housing system in which some people matter more than others.”

Shadow housing secretary John Healey reacted to the news on Twitter, saying: “Deeply unsatisfactory for the Prime Minister to set Grenfell inquiry terms of reference to exclude housing policy failings — closing off criticism of government policy.”

The first hearing is scheduled to take place on September 14, with an initial report due next Easter.

Justice4Grenfell Campaign’s response to the Terms of Reference publication: here.

Grenfell Tower disaster, Londoners speaking

Londoner Bonita, interviewed on Grenfell Tower disaster

From the World Socialist Web Site in London, England:

Grenfell fire: “They don’t give a damn because for them life is just cheap

By our reporters

14 August 2017

World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke to residents in Ladbroke Grove about the Grenfell fire.

Tina lived in the Grenfell Tower on the fourth floor. Tina and her brother managed to escape from the fire. She said, “I had three very good friends in the tower and they haven’t recovered their bodies yet. I wouldn’t like to say how many people died, but it’s definitely more than the 80 that the police are saying.

“We’ve been put in a hotel. We’ve had to change rooms three times. We’ve had no Internet and no reception on our phones. We have been sent a ‘Key Worker,’ if that is what you want to call it. They are just social workers who are trying to do an extra job.

“Basically, we are still waiting to be rehoused. We were offered a place in St. John’s Wood, but we don’t know St. John’s Wood. We don’t want to be there as it’s too far. We were born and bred here all our lives. Our parents and grandparents are from here. And then we were offered a place up in Westbourne Park, which is in Westminster and it’s an estate with a bad reputation.

“We were on the floor where the fire started, the fourth floor. We are not sure if our flat was fully destroyed. There is a team going in to some flats recovering what they can. But they said that every flat has definitely been smoke damaged.

“We all want to know where the donations [raised by the public for the survivors] are. It is between 14 million and 19 million pounds. From what I can gather there is only 14 percent of the money that has reached survivors. I also know of only four funerals that have taken place so far.”

Regarding the lack of any safety systems in Grenfell, Tina said, “It was the only tower block I have ever seen that has a stairwell inside the building. The stairs were not outside the building like on other blocks. These stairs were in the middle of the building. There were no windows in it.

“After the refurbishment [in 2016 in which flammable cladding was attached to its exterior which was critical in allowing the fire to spread rapidly] it did look nicer. But if it was going to cost people’s lives it’s not worth it. No one wanted the cladding anyway. No one wanted the new school there [that was built on the former Grenfell Tower car park and fire assembly point]. The firemen could not get access during the fire. Before it was a major car park and sports field. No one wanted the school there in the way. Everyone opposed it because you can’t get near the tower. This was a no-win situation for the people that lived there.”

Bonita is a telephone engineer. She said, “I believe there are over 100 dead. And the way they said the fire started, I don’t believe it. What we have been hearing is that a fridge exploded. How does a fridge explode? I am an engineer and when I first saw the flames they were blue. Blue flames are from gas not electric.

“For an extra £5,000 they could have secured that building. There were no smoke alarms, there were no sprinklers. This happened because it was a case of ‘Let’s get rid of you and we can build big houses for the rich’. They don’t give a damn because for them life is just cheap and that’s what angers me. For the sake of £5,000 they killed all these people.

Somebody has got to be held accountable, somebody should be charged with manslaughter.”

Bonita was skeptical that anyone would ever be brought to justice by the authorities. “Let’s put it this way. We are looking a good 30 years before we find out anything. People are not going to wait that long, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen any sooner.”

“I live in the South Acton estate. I have been coordinating drop-offs and where you can take stuff [for the survivors of the Grenfell fire]. I work with Acton Homeless Concern and we have been delivering stuff as well.

“I live in a council flat. They are knocking down all council properties in London and rebuilding because the council no longer wants tenants. They want you to move to housing associations, where the rent is higher. It’s like saying ‘Get out of London, we don’t want you here’. I am going nowhere. I have worked in London for the last 43 years, I am not going anywhere. My children are here, my grandchildren are here.

“I have been working since I was 16. I am a telephone engineer. I have seen [house] prices go up and facilities go down. People are not getting the kind of care they need. You used to be able to ring the council and say ‘The lights in the block are not working’ and within two or three hours someone would be there to deal with it. Now you will be lucky if they come in seven days.

“When the news came on, I thought ‘Hang on, this is England, this shouldn’t be happening here. This is not a third world country, so why are we doing this?’ I hope people and bodies are held accountable. It is manslaughter.

“People have got to be held accountable for this. In places like this, on this estate, you have a lot of people with friends and families staying over. Who knows how many people were staying over? One of the messages they put out in the early days was ‘Even if you weren’t supposed to be there, but you were, come and let us know, we are not going to do anything about it.’ Well not right now, but two days later they will get after you and send you back to your country.”

Bonita volunteers at a foodbank in Acton. “It’s a small foodbank but there are quite a few in the area. These is one in Southwark, one in Ealing, one in Chiswick, one in Hammersmith. You get a lot people using it on a Friday. They are so desperate and these are working class people and for whatever reason their benefits have been stopped. Why would you want to cut someone’s benefits? I often look at them and think, ‘I could be on your side of the table’.

“The government now want you to work until you are 66. When I get to 65 they’ll probable change it to 70. This is so the government doesn’t have to pay anything. I’ve got grandchildren and I often think what is going to happen to them?”

Bonita said she would blow up a Socialist Equality Party leaflet to poster size and put it up in housing blocks on her estate. “I can’t believe that people died for the sake of money. They have just found another six blocks in Peckham that’s got the same cladding. They used it here because it was cheap, because it was working class people living there. They just thought, ‘You’re only working class people. You don’t matter.’ I get so angry when I think about it. You guys are doing a great job.”

Public Meeting Grenfell Fire—Social Murder: A crime against the working class in London

Saturday August 19, 2:30 p.m.

Harrow Club

187 Freston Rd

W10 6TH (nearest Tube: Latimer Road)

Facebook event: here.