Alongside the constant bombardment of election developments, the news has been pretty bleak over the past few weeks. The two terror attacks in London and the Manchester bombing have lead the media into a tailspin of constant reporting that could turn the most optimistic of people. Now, with the fire in Grenfell, we've reached a peak level of depression that is affecting us all. There's been understandable resistance against the political discussion brought about by these events. People don't like to think about it in those terms because it brings into view the possibility that you could've done something to stop it.
As horrible as it is to say, no recent event has affected us as a population in the same way as the Grenfell fire. A terrorist attack or random act of violence is temporary and ephemeral; it comes and goes as fast as possible to keep the public morale high. The Grenfell tower still stands though, it stands as a monument to the insidious power of austerity. While the government can pretend that the disabled aren't dying in their droves, no chief whip can throw a blanket on that building. It continues to scar the skyline, reminding us of death and tragedy every day.
Now, the people in the Kensington and Chelsea borough are understandably calling for accountability, something the government are failing to give them. The opposition are calling for major short term changes for those affected and the unaffected public are trying to make sense of this tragic set of circumstances. There's no way of doing that without turning this into a political conversation.
People often think of politics as being disconnected from the real world, as if their decision on polling day will never affect the day to day life of anyone in this country. Sadly, the death of those caught in the tower block fire was a direct result of austerity, a rampant policy brought in place by the Tories. If you voted for them, you must take personal responsibility not only for Grenfell tower, but for the thousands who have died since the Tories came to power.
To make the Grenfell cladding fireproof would've cost an extra five grand, a paltry amount when placed next to the loss of human life. The residents were repeatedly ignored when they attempted to bring up problems they had with the safety of the building. The response from the public services was, as May herself put it, “not good enough.” The government has yet to step in and let those affected by the fire stay in the homes of millionaires that have been left abandoned. In fact, can you name one thing that the government has stepped in to do? It is only due to the brilliant community surrounding the tragedy that people have been properly looked after. To argue that this has nothing to do with politics is either despicable, or ignorant. Which one are you?
Let’s not pretend the right haven’t already started to politicise this tragedy themselves either. The Daily Mail already know they can spin this to their own ends, which is why they attempted to push their agenda with the headline "Did EU regulation mean deadly cladding was used on Grenfell tower?" However, as I'm sure they were blissfully aware, the cladding had already been banned in Germany. The only difference is that the left would like to highlight how the poor are being overlooked in favour of the rich, proposing ways this could be changed. What heartless bastards they are to do such a thing in a time of crisis.
With one of the most important UK elections in recent history just past us, it is of the utmost importance that we start to see these tragedies in their context. If we are to avoid further tragedy, we can only affect change through our democratic right to vote and by coming together as a nationwide community. These tragedies are often inherently politicised, and to argue otherwise is an insult to those affected.
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Grenfell Tower Distant Shot was taken by Frank John and is available for use under Creative Commons.