Eclectic Blue

A difficult watch

Comments Off on A difficult watch 07 June 2018

Tonight’s ITV documentary about Grenfell Tower was a masterclass in producing great television. It was also a masterclass in trivialising a huge injustice and national scandal by including adverts throughout the programme, but it succeeded in its aim which was to reflect what actually happened in the richest borough in Europe.

We were in that borough not long ago, noting that the Kensington and Chelsea area made Bristol’s Clifton look like a sink estate, yet well within the horizon stood the charred remains of Grenfell Tower. Never before had I realised nor understood the depths to which we as a society had sunk.

I am not really a class warrior. I’m a working class mainstream left of centre socialist with no designs on class war. I like it when people succeed and, like most parents, I am desperate to see my children do better than I did, an admittedly low bar. But the difference between rich and poor in Kensington and Chelsea is nothing short of obscene.

It was a difficult watch. As the flames rose from the bottom of the tower to the top, I felt compelled to watch, as I did when the planes flew into the Twin Towers on a seemingly endless loop. In both cases, I knew that people were dying behind the flames, but somehow I couldn’t take my eyes of it. It’s a combination, I would guess, between morbid curiosity and shock, shock because what was happening was surely not possible. But then, should the gap between rich and poor be so possible?

Have we really accepted that, as a society, it is okay for people to live in highly inflammable tower blocks at the same time it is okay for seriously rich people to own vast houses just down the road and leave them empty? I am not suggesting for one moment that everyone should live in the same quality of housing, straight from a communist nightmare, but this is the exact opposite and just as unacceptable.

Most poor people work. That is a telling statement. David Cameron’s Tory government in which some Lib Dems had jobs made things much worse, making the country even more unequal by introducing years of austerity which was always going to affect those at the bottom and not those at the top. The wretched Theresa May, despite all her weasel words to the contrary, has continued the process. She said in her most patronising words that she would govern for ordinary people, which I took to mean the people she saw as lesser beings. The reality is that there has been no change. Indeed, continues to lead this country into the abyss of isolation and falling living standards as we commit economic suicide and leave the EU. And leaving the EU is not conducive to improving the lot of the lumpen proletariat.

People burned to death because of their social class. In the 21st century. And now the inquiry goes on to establish what happened and eventually will come to conclusions that the government will try to address as cheaply as possible. Meanwhile, the filthy rich will still live in their gated communities, so near and yet so far from the poor people living behind cheap cladding.

Kensington and Chelsea is the richest borough in Europe, but not, alas, for everyone who lives in it.

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