On Sunday 18th June 2017 the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer displayed an extraordinary level of contempt for ordinary people by quibbling with Andrew Marr over the effectiveness of sprinkler systems.
Andrew Marr had asked him why a succession of Tory housing ministers had spent four years sitting on a report into the Lakanal House fire in 2009 that recommended the retrofitting of sprinkler systems in high rise residential buildings.
Hammond’s absurd response was that the government had needed to do more research into whether sprinkler systems are effective fire safety measures.
The Fire Brigade Union claims that there have never been multiple fire fatalities in a building with a sprinkler system, and common sense says that a system for spraying water onto the fire would at the very least allow people more time to exit the building.
Under the political shadow of the burned out shell of Grenfell tower the Tory Chancellor tried to argue that the residents of the 4,000+ high rise residential towers without sprinkler systems don’t need sprinkler systems until the Tory party are satisfied that there is enough evidence that they are a useful fire safety feature!
When it comes to the safety of ordinary people (or the “lower orders” as they think of us) the Tory mentality there is no precautionary principle, nor even any common bloody sense.
Safety recommendations for the buildings we live in should be shelved and delayed as long as possible, and even after a disastrous fire that killed dozens of people in their homes, longstanding fire safety recommendations should be quibbled over as “complex technical issues” and subjected to as much doubt as possible.
Chancellor Philip Hammond questioned about what government could have done to prevent #GrenfellTower tragedy https://t.co/HciYAQok9I pic.twitter.com/RLqCg00jlb
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 18, 2017
There is no such quibbling or reticence about common sense and the precautionary principle when it comes to their own lives though.
At about the same time as the Lakanal House related fire safety report first landed on a Tory desk the government were drawing up plans for the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament, and lo and behold, their refurbishment plans include a wonderful new sprinkler system at a cost of £1.3 million to the taxpayer.
For some reason the Tories didn’t immediately begin quibbling over the proposed sprinkler system for their own workplace and demanding ever more technical evidence that sprinkler systems help to suppress fires and reduce fire mortality rates.
When it comes to their own safety money is clearly no object. But when it comes to the “lower orders” then it’s one delaying tactic after another, even after dozens of people were killed in exactly the kind of fire the Tory government were repeatedly warned about.
This Tory hypocrisy doesn’t just show utter contempt for the residents of Britain’s 4,000+ tower blocks without sprinkler systems, Hammond’s quibbling over the effectiveness of sprinklers for tower blocks while his own place of employment is getting one at the taxpayers’ expense displays absolute contempt for us all.
How on earth can this guy justify demanding more evidence that sprinklers work before money is spent to protect the lives of ordinary people when he made no such demands when it came to fitting a sprinkler system that he personally benefits from?
It’s not just that Hammond and his Tory chums clearly and undeniably put their extremist hard-right austerity dogma above public safety (not just fire safety cutbacks either, consider the 20,000 axed police jobs and their incompetent neglect of NHS cyber security too), it’s that they’re such brazen hypocrites about it.
If they genuinely don’t believe that there is sufficient evidence that sprinkler systems are a useful fire safety measure for high occupancy buildings, they must immediately demand the removal of the proposed sprinkler system from the Houses of Parliament refurbishment plans.
If they want to keep their own sprinkler system then they should admit that they’re actually useful common sense fire safety measures and begin implementing the recommendations of the fire safety report they’ve been sitting on for four years.
anything other than these two options would be yet another display of toxic Tory hypocrisy.