Yes, the incident that took place on Wednesday in London was a heartbreaking tragedy, and the cause is still unknown. However, what remains clear about this tragedy is the horrible distance between social classes within the same neighbourhood and the inhumane nature of the politics that allowed something so predictably dangerous occur.
First of all, the Grenfell Tower is located in one of the richest neighbourhoods in London — The Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Just across the road from the tower, which was home to mainly Black and Minority Ethnic people of a low-income social class, stood merely 1,400 completely empty houses that were worth up to £11m. None of which have been opened up to the residents of the Grenfell Tower.
This is a nice little reminder of which voices are allowed to be heard by the councils and politicians in London, and how deadly the consequences are. The residents’ of the building have documented complaints about fire and safety for years, which includes voicing concerns about the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, and how the local council authorised the management of the building to cut corners on safety… refusing to listen to tenant concerns. This led to a completion of a regeneration project to improve the ‘aesthetic’ of the building. It cost £10million, and only improved the view and appearance of the building, including adding a material called ‘cladding’ which made the building burn quicker.
In addition to this, the building also had eliminated a car park, slowing emergency response vehicles to get to the tower, and very concerning fire escapes. The council ignored the needs of the people who lived in the building and focused on improving the needs of those who lived near the building, who happen to be predominantly white and wealthy individuals. This is where the tragedy gets political, and why we started to lose hope in politicians long ago.
According to Dawn Foster of the Guardian in January 2016, “When you dig deeper into the interests of MPs, the motives become a little clearer, but no less murky, ethically. Scrutinising the register of members’ financial interests, 39% of Conservative MPs are landlords, renting out at least one property. A total of 196 MPs are landlords: a rise of over a quarter since the last parliament, which still saw 25% of elected politicians owning at least one home they let out.”
Therefore, the social housing laws are being created and formed by people who have little-to-no connection with them. Now we have a housing bill that feeds the desires of those who seek profit from housing, including the landlords and builders, instead of those who just need housing that is safe and fit for humans. The entire housing market prioritises profit over needs, and this has developed into a social and economic crisis…and now a tragedy.
It really is time to acknowledge the hard truths of inequality between social classes in Britain. This stems from the politicians, who are too unattainable and disconnected from their own people. Within just one borough there exists a completely broken spectrum of race equalities and social classes.
It is entirely heartbreaking and we must grieve those who have died in the Grenfell Tower, as the overall impact of the fire is still unknown and very incomprehensible.
If you happen to live near the building and wish to donate food or clothing, here are some places that accept donations:
Rugby Portobello Trust, 221 Walmer Road W11 4EY
Harrow Club, 187 Freston Rd, W10 6TH
St Clement Church, 94 Sirdar Rd, W11 4EQ