Behind this disaster lies a brutal indifference to the lives of the poor.
The horrific images of people signalling for help at the windows of a blazing Grenfell Tower will remain imprinted in our collective memory long after the demolition of its charred remains. They lived in one of the richest boroughs in one of the richest cities in the word. Yet the state utterly failed in its responsibility to provide them with the most basic of protections. It continues to fail to provide the survivors and relatives with the assistance they so desperately need. This grim insight into the society that we share with Grenfell Tower’s inhabitants should shake us all.
Official answers as to who and what was responsible will have to wait for the weeks, months and years of criminal investigation, inquest and inquiry to come. But it does not take a public inquiry to expose the shameful truth about Grenfell Tower. These were preventable deaths. We are a rich society that has created remedies for diseases once thought incurable and invented the world wide web. We know how to make housing decent safe and fireproof and we have the money to do so. The negligence that led to dozens of men, women and children, many of them poor, many of them migrants, burning to death must forever be a stain on our conscience.
It falls to our national leaders to articulate this national sense of shame. Yet in interview after interview the prime minister has failed to demonstrate the compassion and empathy she surely feels in the face of the fury of desperate relatives still missing their loved ones. This matters. It is beyond belief that her response to this tragedy has been to evade even the most general questions about accountability by woodenly recounting lists of government actions. It is becoming increasingly untenable for her to claim she is in charge of the nation.