Now is the time to for the government to properly enforce a zero-tolerance policy on MPs’ conflicts of interests, writes JULIAN VIGO
THERESA MAY and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have ordered a public inquiry into the fire in Grenfell Tower as the death toll is currently confirmed at 79 and is expected to rise as other residents are reported missing.
But there is more behind this tragedy than merely the shoddy state of the tower’s housing.
For instance, the Grenfell Action Group residents’ association had consistently warned about the possibility of such a tragedy.
A recent post on the group’s blog read: “Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in [the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea]. All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”
These residents are not only right to be furious but there is a much larger political beast that goes beyond the current partisan squabbles which abound in the media over which political party is to blame.
Continuing to bicker over May’s facial expressions is as futile as the many lawyers offering free legal help for those with compensation claims. The heart of the issue is one of political corruption from within the British government.
In 2009, approximately 30 per cent of all homes in England were declared “non-decent” according to poverty.org.uk with the highest rates of non-decency occurring in the private rental sector. Because owner-occupation is by far the most common tenure today, it still accounts for two-thirds of all non-decent homes.
In fact, there are substantial numbers of households in non-decent homes at all levels of income.
While Grenfell Tower households were statistically no more likely to live in a non-decent home than richer households, its size meant that fire posed an incalculable risk to its inhabitants and rendered a safe exit from higher floors challenging at best. The brute reality is that the tragedy of Grenfell Tower was completely avoidable.
Residents warned as early as January 2016 that Grenfell Tower had problems with rubbish and inadequate fire exits. Danny Vance, an associate pastor at Notting Hill Community Church, has blamed the treatment of poor people in Notting Hill for the fatal tower block inferno and said residents had been “neglected” in the area, telling the Evening Standard: “The disparity in this country between rich and poor is disgusting… this would not have happened in those £2 million, £5m flats around the corner.”