British Conservatives endanger fire safety

This 24 July 2019 video from Britain says about itself

Firefighters launch Grenfell: Never Again campaign

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is calling for urgent action on a range of fire and building safety issues to prevent another Grenfell, launching a campaign with the Daily Mirror. On the second anniversary of the tragedy, action to prevent a similar fire has been wholly insufficient, with little to nothing being done to tackle the structural issues that led to the tragedy.

The “Grenfell: Never Again” campaign aims to pressure government to take decisive action to tackle the underlying risks which caused the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower. You can sign the petition here.

1. Remove flammable cladding from all tower blocks and public buildings. There are still 328 residential and public buildings using the same cladding as that on the Grenfell Tower, and at least 1,700 with other potentially combustible claddings, including hospitals, care homes and schools as well as high rises.

2. Retrofit sprinklers in high rises and schools, wherever a risk assessment deems them necessary. Coroners’ reports have called for sprinkler systems to be fitted, but so far only 32 out of 837 council tower blocks over 30m tall have sprinklers.

3. Ensure tenants are given a real voice in the running and upkeep of their buildings. Grenfell tenants say their concerns about materials used in the refurbishment were ignored by Kensington and Chelsea council. Tenants’ right should be strengthened and democratically-elected groups given a direct say.

4. Reverse the cuts to firefighter numbers and Fire Safety Officers. In 2016-17, the government spent £1,013m on fire services. But in 2019-20, it will only spend £858m. Every single fire authority has seen the amount it receives in central government funding cut in the last three years.

5. Create a new independent national body to oversee standards and best practices in fire and rescue services across the country. There is no national body to oversee fire and rescue service and fire policy. This means standards vary across authorities and lessons are not being learned. Minimum standards should be set for response times and crewing levels.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“The second anniversary of Grenfell must be a moment of both heartfelt reflection and determined action. We have seen 72 lives tragically lost, in a wholly preventable blaze, all while desperately under-resourced firefighters risked their own lives to save others. Firefighters and control room staff never want to see a fire like that again, and are calling on the government to take immediate action.

“In the time since the fire, the government’s facile approach has utterly failed all those involved that night and the thousands of people who are at risk across the country. After two years, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has delivered no answers and we are no closer to tackling any of the underlying causes of the tragedy.

“As things stand, we risk sleepwalking into another catastrophic loss of life. We demand urgent action from government to ensure that the events of Grenfell Tower can never happen again.”

The campaign, launched today with the Daily Mirror, has backing from Grenfell campaign group Justice4Grenfell; Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London; and John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary.

Firefighters will join tonight’s monthly Grenfell Silent Walk and will march alongside community activists in the solidarity march tomorrow. The FBU is a core participant in the ongoing Grenfell inquiry.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Fire service cut to the bone! Kick Tories out before another deadly fire breaks out

18th January 2020

THE INCREASE in the time between a 999 call and fire engines arriving on to the scene of a fire has increased. This is despite the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warning that in a fire seconds mean the ‘difference between life and death’.

Firefighters take 2 minutes 42 seconds longer to respond to a primary fire, compared with 1994/5.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘In a fire, a matter of seconds could be the difference between life and death, so these figures are incredibly alarming. Services have been cut to the bone, and it’s obvious that with fewer firefighters and scarcer resources, firefighters are taking longer to get to fires, putting lives and businesses at risk.’

Over a decade of Tory cuts, during which PM Johnson was Mayor of London, has devastated the fire service. Johnson shut 10 fire stations, axed 552 firefighters’ jobs and took 27 fire engines out of service!

Meanwhile, the 999 call centres are being merged. The FBU has already issued a safety-critical notice after Surrey and West Sussex control rooms were merged. More than 9,000 extra calls per year are to be handled by just four staff, a 79% increase in incidents.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published their annual report on Wednesday and it was shocking.

The report, while describing a service hacked, slashed and starved of resources, had the cheek to turn its fire against the union itself, alleging the FBU had ‘undue influence’ on the fire service.

The FBU defiantly hit back: ‘We utterly refute any suggestion that the FBU have “undue influence” on our service. We are the democratically elected representatives of professional firefighters. They know best about their service and should have a strong voice in how it is run.’

And the HMICFRS are not the only ones to attack the firefighters. A leaked report by the chairman of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry, Martin Moore-Bick, blamed the London Fire Brigade (LFB) itself for the deaths.

However, the truth is that, if the May government had legislated to make the type of cladding that was used in Grenfell illegal, as was demanded of it, there would not have been a fire at all!

The inquiry is steering the blame for the Grenfell fire away from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) council, the government, the cladding company Arconic, the refurbishment company Rydon, and the Tenants Management Organisation (TMO).

Yesterday, we found out that the inquiry is to have connections with the cladding industry itself. Benita Mehra, a civil engineer, and past president of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) has been appointed by PM Johnson to the Grenfell Tower inquiry panel to take part in the Inquiry’s second phase.

It is a fact that Mehra’s WES received funding linked to US firm Arconic, which supplied the cladding that helped spread the Grenfell Tower fire. Arconic supplied the flammable cladding panels and Rydon did the refurbishment.

These links should bar Mehra from the inquiry. A refusal to do so will be the proof that the much-praised inquiry is biased in favour of the cladding industry, and that its findings, especially its condemnations of the FBU, cannot be taken seriously.

It is the Tory RBKC council, the Tenants Management Organisation who put the cladding up, private companies Arconic and Rydon, and the Tory government that are responsible for the deaths of 72 people in the Grenfell Tower fire. Their deaths are not the responsibility of the brave firefighters, who did their duty and did save many lives.

Rydon and its management team have not faced court corporate manslaughter charges. In fact, Rydon has been awarded further local government contracts. Maidstone borough council has awarded Rydon a contract to build a £9.5m complex at the Kent Medical Campus.

Instead, FBU heroes have been shamefully targeted. Rydon, Arconic, RBKC, the TMO and the Tory government must face justice for the Grenfell Tower atrocity. Otherwise, mass deaths from preventable fires will become the rule.

What is required is a workers government that will make fire safety in workers’ homes its top priority.

British Conservative government considers political left ‘terrorist’

Leftist organisations considered ''terrorist' by British Conservative government

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Friday, January 17, 2020

Left-wing? You may be on police extremism list

Shock as leaked document targets everyone from anti-fascists to peaceniks

THE Home Office has lumped together left-wing groups and green campaigners with neo-nazis and white supremacists in literature and posters supposedly designed to educate officers about extremism.

The Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) document has categories including white supremacist and nationalist groups, left-wing and “associated single-issue groups”, animal rights groups, and environmental campaigns.

The left-wing and environmental groups listed include the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), Stop the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Greenpeace.

CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths told the Star that it is “not surprising” that the party is included on the extremism watch list.

He said: “The primary function of Britain’s intelligence services is to protect the capitalist status quo and the ruling class, so it is no surprise that CPB should be listed as it is an organisation which wants to replace capitalism with socialism.

“The biggest threat to democratic rights in Britain has always come from the capitalist state — and this confirms that any turn towards authoritarianism must be opposed by the widest range of democratic organisation.

“We have one of the most secretive secret services in the world and this document also urgently confirms that we need to try and bring our intelligence services under some form of genuine democratic scrutiny.”

Mr Griffiths also referred to the infiltration of “perfectly legal and legitimate campaigning organisations” by undercover police officers for decades — which is currently subject to the Pitchford inquiry.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson questioned why the organisation was on the counter-terror list, noting that it has a history of more than 60 years of peaceful protest and an “open, democratic structure and policy process.”

She continued: “We have no secrets and act in the public interest. It is nuclear bombs that terrorise people, not our campaign, which works to eradicate weapons of mass destruction.

“This is massive state overreach and threatens our right to political engagement and peaceful protest.”

Andrew Smith of CAAT said that the “appalling” document sends the message that people who “care about social justice or oppose war, arms sales, discrimination or conflict then you can be included alongside white nationalists and neo-nazi hate groups.”

“It is yet another shameful attempt to repress dissent. This further discredits the fundamentally flawed Prevent scheme. It is long past time for police and government to stop criminalising democratic protest,” he added.

Extinction Rebellion called the literature and posters “crude, divisive and dangerous”.

It added: “The guidance document makes it clear that not all the signs and symbols are of counterterrorism interest. However, if that’s the case, why include them in a counter-terrorism document?

“The chilling effect is to leave people feeling under scrutiny, watched and pressurised, feeling ‘othered’, ashamed or afraid to be open about the things they care about such as the environment and the world around us.”

Clare Collier of human-rights organisation Liberty said the counter-terror agenda is “one of the greatest threats to free speech in the UK.”

The latest leak comes after more than 100 academics, campaigners, and community organisers signed a joint statement released by human rights charity Cage calling for the abolition of the Home Office’s Prevent anti-extremism strategy, which primarily targets Muslims.

Cage research director Dr Asim Qureshi said: “Ongoing calls for ‘more security and surveillance’ only lead to circular discussions, and policies that exacerbate fracture and distrust. We must break this impasse.”

Johnson makes London Grenfell disaster inquiry unjust

Grenfell Tower in west London, England burns

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Grenfell: Johnson appoints engineer with links to the firm that made the tower’s cladding to the inquiry

Former Labour MP Emma Dent Coad tells the Star that the PM has driven the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of justice

BORIS JOHNSON has driven the “final nail in the coffin” of justice for the victims of Grenfell by appointing an engineer to the fire inquiry who has links to the firm which made the tower’s cladding, former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad told the Star today.

Mr Johnson picked Benita Mehra last month to assist Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the inquiry into the June 2017 disaster that killed 72 people.

Ms Mehra previously ran the Women’s Engineering Society, which received a £71,000 grant from the charitable arm of Arconic, the US-based maker of the aluminium composite cladding that fuelled the Grenfell fire.

She will be one of two experts helping Mr Moore-Bick with at least 18 months of hearings into the events leading up to the fire.

Ms Dent Coad, who lost her seat last month, said people affected by the fire have now abandoned all hope that the second phase of the inquiry will bring any justice.

“They ripped the firefighters to shreds in the first phase and now what I hear from people in the community is that this is proof that it is — as we feared — an Establishment stitch-up,” she said.

“People are in shock but will be regrouping and planning over the next few days. We were told over and over again that we should trust the process — but we can’t.

“The appointment is the last thing we want to hear. The whole idea of the second phase has been so invested in and for this to come about is horrific.”

Grenfell United vice-chair Karim Mussilhy, who lost his uncle in the fire, is calling for Ms Mehra to stand down before hearings restart on January 27. He described the appointment as a “disgrace.”

A spokesperson for the inquiry said it was confident that Ms Mehra’s former role would “not affect her impartiality.”

Two and a half years after Grenfell fire: Tens of thousands of UK households live in buildings covered in flammable cladding: here.

New British Conservative attack on disabled people

This August 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

90 people a month are dying after being found ‘fit for work’

“This is another crude stick to beat claimants with” says Steve Topple as the government keeps fit-for-work documents secret for ‘commercial interests’.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Tories use first day back to attack the disabled

DWP removes option for claimants to choose whether work assessment outcomes are reported to GPs

THE new Tory government has wasted no time in targeting Britain’s most vulnerable, using its first day in Parliament to backtrack on disability rights.

Yesterday morning the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) removed the option for disability claimants to choose whether the outcome of work assessments is shared with their GP.

It means that the DWP can send letters to doctors telling them not to sign patients’ sick notes if they have been found “fit for work” by the notorious work capability assessments (WCA).

The option was only added to the ESA50 claim form — on the advice of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which had previously informed the DWP that it had “not complied with data protection obligations” — on December 5, to be scrapped 11 days later.

Disability-rights activist Linda Burnip said the removal of the option on the first day of the new government presents an “ominous sign” for the future of disabled people.

Ms Burnip, who founded the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, said the change was what “disabled people were dreading before the election.”

She said: “This is going to make things so difficult for disabled people, it’s going to put them more at risk.”

People with disabilities have routinely been declared fit for work after going through the DWP’s humiliating assessments. This is despite many claimants having serious disabilities that prevent them from being able to work.

The notorious tests, carried out by poorly trained staff hired by outsourced private firms, have been slammed by doctors.

In a 2018 survey carried out by medical magazine Pulse, 645 GPs said their patients had been refused welfare benefits, counter to the GPs’ opinion that they were unable to work.

Official DWP figures also reflect this: 68 per cent of employment support allowance (ESA) claimants assessed as fit for work at their initial assessment later successfully had the decision overturned on appeal.

If found fit for work, claimants no longer receive ESA and must apply for jobseekers’ allowance or universal credit if their doctors decide not to sign a sick note exempting them from work.

Some GPs have been influenced not to sign off patients by work capability assessment results. In 2016 James Harrison died after the DWP told his GP to stop issuing him sick notes after he had been judged fit for work.

Ms Burnip highlighted the risks of this information being exchanged between the government and doctors.

“To some extent, doctors might as well not exist any more in relation to benefit claims because they are totally ignored,” she said. “You have someone who has seven or eight years’ training and their opinion counts for nothing.”

The DWP U-turn comes after PM Boris Johnson said earlier this year that working harder would help people with mental-health disorders.

“It comes back to the whole concept of work,” Ms Burnip said. “I mean I suppose if you’re an MP it’s quite a nice job. But if you work in some grotty factory for 40 hours a week, work isn’t really quite as rewarding.”

The Conservative Party had not responded to a request for comment before the Star went to print.

London Grenfell disaster survivors march against Johnson

This 29 January 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

Since the tragedy at Grenfell, local residents have come together once a month to silently march to the site of the tower. Lowkey explains how this is a community with a history of organising in the face of adversity.

By Lamiat Sabin in London, England:

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Grenfell supporters call for justice and rally against Tory government in 13th march

THE THIRTIETH silent march calling for justice for Grenfell sent a message of community defiance to the newly elected Conservative government and Kensington’s new Tory MP over the weekend.

Outside Grenfell Tower at a rally at the end of the march, community youth worker and journalist Daniel Renwick said North Kensington will be looked on by the rest of the country as an example of how to “continue the fightback” against the government, as the second phase of the Grenfell inquiry starts in the new year.

He extended solidarity to the Hillsborough campaign for justice that suffered a setback last month when match commander David Duckenfield was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.

Hundreds of people who attended the march and rally on Saturday evening also heard from rapper Lowkey, real name Kareem Dennis.

He said “psychological warfare” had been inflicted on Kensington residents by the Liberal Democrats during the election campaign, which led to the splitting of the anti-Tory vote and the unseating of Labour MP Emma Dent Coad.

Mr Dennis took aim at the deluge of Lib Dems’ campaign literature that urged Kensington residents vote for their ex-Conservative candidate Sam Gyimah.

Mr Gyimah got 9,000 votes and led to the election of Tory candidate Felicity Buchan, who was just 150 votes ahead of Ms Dent Coad.

Ms Dent Coad, who was the first-ever Labour MP to represent Kensington but had a majority of just 20, was one of the highest-profile casualties of the general election in which Labour suffered heavy losses.

She has been attending Grenfell marches since the fire broke out in June 2017, while Ms Buchan has admitted to never going on one.

During the rally, Mr Dennis said: “We have all been lied to by leaflets that have been put through our doors in order to get us to vote against our own interests.

“In getting letters claiming they’re from an election specialist saying we should vote for the Liberal Democrats to avoid a Tory government — and in tiny small print on the bottom of that letter that says ‘sent on behalf of the Liberal Democrats’ — we were lied to.

“We have lost someone who was a champion of this community in Parliament who has been replaced by someone who belongs to a party that was responsible for the fire.

“That person [Ms Buchan] does not represent us and cannot represent us and should not be normalised or legitimised.

“The amount of disinformation, the amount of manipulation that took place was unprecedented in the history of this country.”

Ms Dent Coad told the Star that people have come up to her in tears over her losing her seat.

“Everywhere I go I have overwhelming support from people who are saying the same thing [as Mr Dennis], and that I will always be their MP — which is very moving. I will do as much as I can,” she said.

She revealed to the Star that she underwent surgery for breast cancer on the Monday before the election, after being diagnosed in the middle of the campaign.

She added that she is committed to continuing to speak out for Kensington even though she will no longer be in Parliament.

Twitter censors criticism of British Conservatives

This 28 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Facebook & Google Play the Censor: Are our Civil Liberties Endangered?

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi joins us to examine the dangerous juncture our freedom finds itself in when Facebook, Twitter, and Google work with the government and its intelligence services to control what we see and hear.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Twitter accused of censoring anti-Tory posts

TWITTER has been accused of political censorship for suspending a man’s account after he used it to criticise the Tories over their treatment of his dying brother.

Noel Stevenson made a video appealing directly to then Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) secretary Amber Rudd to stop forcing people with debilitating terminal illnesses to undergo work assessments.

The video was made in support of his brother Ron Stevenson, who was told by the DWP to attend a work assessment despite being paralysed with motor neurone disease.

Noel’s video appeal received widespread publicity and his [Conservative] MP Nicholas Soames wrote to tell him he had met Ms Rudd and that she was going to change the policy.

However, Noel said: “Ron died in August but the policy hasn’t changed.”

After his brother’s death and with the general election approaching, he used Twitter to tell his brother’s story and show a video of his brother’s appeal to Ms Rudd.

Noel said: “Ron hated Boris Johnson and hated the Tories. So with the video I was giving him a voice from the grave.

“It went bananas. It attracted 12,000 likes and was retweeted 7,500 times.

“Only two people out of all the kind and supportive well-wishers — many expressing outrage against this Tory government — were negative and insulting. I challenged them both.

“One of them continued to be insulting and I returned his insults with interest, my language appropriately choice. He was out of order and I told him so.

“Then the man complained to Twitter and they suspended me for a week because of the comment.”

When he protested about the suspension, Twitter told him: “Our support team has determined that a violation (of Twitter rules) did take place and therefore we will not overturn our decision.”

Noel said he believed Twitter was “using unprecedented action to stop anti-Tory protest.

“OK, I was rude to him, but you have to take it in context. Ron was a special man to many, not just to me. This is a deliberate attempt to gag anti-Tory anti-Johnson protest.”

Twitter had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

BLACK BRITS CONSIDERING LEAVING UK IF TORIES WIN ELECTION Boris Johnson’s record on racism has left some Black Brits so afraid for their safety that they are considering leaving the U.K. should the Conservatives claim victory in Thursday’s election. Racist comments written or signed off by the prime minister include an article published in The Spectator while he was editor that claimed Black people have lower IQs. [HuffPost]