Justice for Grenfell placard, Photo: garryknight / Flickr Justice for Grenfell placard, Photo: garryknight / Flickr

Grenfell tower remains a haunting symbol of how little working class lives matter to this corrupt Tory government, writes Mona Kamal

Today the local community in North Kensington is gathering to remember the 72 lives lost in the Grenfell fire. This was an entirely preventable catastrophe which resulted in the greatest loss of life since World War II and yet nobody has been held to account. In fact throughout the inquiry that has followed this tragedy, we have been given a clear signal from our government about where its priorities lie.

The same callousness that drove our Prime Minister to reportedly exclaim “let the bodies pile high” when warned about economic costs of lockdown, is the very same which forced people into unsafe housing built by a dangerously deregulated industry that puts profit-making above the sanctity of human life. 

This tragic loss of life happened because the lives of the poor, working class, black and brown residents were judged to be less of a priority than maximising profit making for building contractors and Tennant Management Organisations. This toxic core belief that some lives are simply worth less than others and that profits can therefore be prioritised above their safety is evident throughout this government’s policy making and is also why we now have the worst Covid death toll in Europe.

Four years on and not only have there been no arrests, but our government have made sure that building contractors retain their freedoms to build cheap unsafe housing which puts the lives of working class people at risk. Given the opportunity to enact the recommendations of Phase 1 of the Grenfell inquiry and enshrine the fire safety recommendations into law, our government which is filled with landlords voted against it in parliament in September last year.

There remain hundreds of thousands of people living in buildings clad with flammable material and in April the government defeated an amendment in Parliament that would have seen the companies responsible for the cladding being held responsible for paying for its removal.

The callousness and corruption goes to the very top of our government. What greater evidence of corruption is there than our prime minister appointing to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry an individual with links to the very company which made the cladding that has been blamed for accelerating the fire. This is the same man who during his time as London Mayor was responsible for shutting down ten London fire stations and responded with the words “get stuffed” when warned this could cost lives during a London Assembly Meeting.

The fire at Grenfell tower was the clearest signal from our government to indicate where its priorities lie which is to serve the material interests of the class they represent irrespective of the potential human cost. Living at the foot of the tower I have an inescapable, daily, concrete reminder of the meaning of social murder.

This cannot just be a day to remember the 72 who lost their lives but a time to renew our commitment to hold our government to account and reassert our principle that our lives and wellbeing must come ahead of the accumulation of profit.

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