Theresa May has just announced five millions pounds in payments to the families who lost everything, including the lives of loved ones, in the fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower. This is a case of too little, too late. Where was this money when local residents pleaded with the RBKC council to investigate the unsafe living conditions years ago?
This tragedy was not fated, but created. It would be too kind to claim that the oligarchs who run our society merely neglected the poor residents of Grenfell Tower: when residents organised themselves and warned of the immanence of such a tragedy, they were accused of “defamation” by the council. Will there be accountability for what the protesters today rightly condemned as murder? Or will all of this simply be swept under the rug, treated as if it were a natural disaster?
Experts warned against the installation of flammable cladding, but as we all know now, the fire, itself the result of lax regulations and shoddy infrastructure that is the norm for the poor, was made worse by this cladding, which was chosen because it was cheaper for the council, and at any rate would make the tower less of an eyesore for Grenfell’s bourgeois neighbours. The lives of the poor, as always, were not even a factor in planning for the very places where the poor live.
This is the real face of London. Burning public housing where fire alarms don’t go off, and officialdom warn the doomed residents to stay put, the result of a local council which ignores the pleas of the poor to protect them from a disaster they can see coming, while all around their city is transformed on the whims of the wealthy from around the world.
Theresa May wants the state to be able to pay blood money to the victims and have the problem go away. We don’t want their money. We want our lives. We want our families to be safe in their own homes, we want safe housing to be a human right, we want to build cities where tragedies like this won’t happen. Theresa May, and all those like her, want to be able to factor in the deaths of our people as emergency expenses. We want all culpable parties jailed. We want the poor in charge of housing, and for our fears and concerns to be taken seriously before dozens are killed.
This is the real face of London. Third world conditions for the poor in the centre of finance capital of one of the world’s great imperialist powers. The neglected minorities on whom all social ills are blamed, left to burn to death in their homes. Our people don’t deserve such treatment, they don’t deserve hypocritical Tory apologies, and they don’t deserve Sadiq Khan’s mealy-mouthed words. They deserve to not be murdered.
Any justice we can achieve will come from our own will to expose and bring down these corrupt oligarchs. And we can do it. Today, young women and men poured out into the streets to chant down Babylon. On a hot Ramadan day, the real London sought to confront their oppressors. Fights broke out, and Kensington Town Hall was stormed. These are moments of high tide in the people’s struggle. We must seize on these moments to unite with the masses in their struggle.
But we must be there with them in the aftermath as well. Where the bourgeoisie abandon the poor to our own misery when the headlines do not shame them into action, we must not allow ourselves to be isolated between headlines. Capitalist society wants us to become atomised individuals for easier exploitation. We are pressured to retreat into our own private worlds where we might cynically condemn our oppressors over a pint. We must fight against this as well. The Grenfell Action Group were unable to prevent this tragedy because we were not there for them. If their numbers had been greater, if the networks had been stronger, perhaps a victory could have been achieved.
On the night of Corbyn’s election, observers of diverse political allegiances agreed that Corbyn represented a change in how politics in the UK would be done. Momentum have achieved great recruiting success on the premise of representing a new left-wing trend for Britain. We represent many young Marxist-Leninists who have answered this call. Let us keep our word. Local council politics are our politics. Housing organisations are our organisations. Meet and work with your neighbours, not only to agitate and spread propaganda, but because if you don’t, it could be you next!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world – unite!