Grenfell and Austerity, A Tale of Two Cities

The people of Grenfell didn’t want a £5 million pound handout. They wanted 1% of that £50,000 spent on upgrading the cladding from the material used that barely scraped above the low standard set by building regulations to one that would protect them.

Welcome to austerity ….penny pinching Britain. A country where in Kensington one of the richest areas under the Conservative Government, and elsewhere; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. London, a city where large expensive houses lie empty, and high rise flats, death traps, sit in close proximity. A monument to the failings of austerity and the class divide exacerbated by austerity.

There is nothing wrong with entrepreneurism and opportunity. But in order for this thinking to exist there is an engine room, the sort of people who live in high rise flats and social housing who do the leg work to make it all possible. As the rich have got richer these people have seen the value of their meagre wages dwindle in a most despicable manner. Unaware to most of us, also they have seen the safety of their homes compromised. The elected Government have the mandate to do so and I have to accept that. But never accept the denial of the right wing press that this country is fast becoming a nasty little shit hole. Doubtless the media etc will argue over the blame for years. But the de facto culprits in the Government and in local authorities know who they are and will have to live with themselves.

Surely what you must do is strike a balance. Like a car engine you can’t use shit oil and not service it properly. This is a fair analogy of austerity. Grenfell, sadly, has highlighted the massive divide in this country and what happens when you penny pinch rather  than protect. The response of the Government has shown them up for their disconnect form the vast majority of this country. A disconnect that has seen a supposed unelectable maverick Labour leader near the reins of power. He gets it and people are getting him.

The Taylor report into Hillsborough saw the biggest change ever in football where stadiums were transformed to be made safe by the introduction of all seater stadiums. Thorough change is needed but you don’t need a report to know all old high rise flats need new safe cladding and sprinkler systems installed. Immediately.  Ignore the bullshit that there is any risk in the installation of sprinkler systems. Planning regulations in this country were pretty good but the standard of the regulations only apply to new builds and not retrospectively. We must look after people in social housing in the same way that as the engine room of our economy they help look after all of us. Current standards of what is permissible in building need to be raised and then applied, retrospectively, to all social housing. We need to stop lying so much and treating people like dirt and have a fair society where a safe home is standard as it should be in any rich country such as ours.

I just hope something good can come out of this, maybe an acceptance that the class divide in this country, poor housing, schools and social care as all the vast wealth in this country is hoarded by a tiny minority is just wrong and a better social balance would benefit practically everyone.


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