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Making political capital out of tragedy

2 Comments 15 June 2017

Making political capital out of tragedy

My blocked and muted lists on social networks have expanded still further in recent days. I decided some time ago that I did not want to read certain types of extremist nonsense and whilst abuse did not keep me awake at night, I have concluded that life was too short to respond to every Tom, Dick and Harriet. Events following the horrors of Grenfell House have encouraged me to expand the lists still further.

On the same day that a large number of people died in such a terrible tragedy, I was disappointed, to say the least, to find there were people attempting to making political capital. Whilst I think it is fair and legitimate to say how welcome it is to see senior politicians praising the heroism of frontline public sector workers instead of cutting their numbers and attacking their conditions of service, some people have taken things too far.

There are probably a million things about which Theresa May deserves a metaphorical kicking, but to attack her for so say not responding quickly enough to the situation was plainly nonsense. In my judgement, May’s response was fair, compassionate, timeous and wholly proportionate. There was nothing she could have said that would have changed anything. When the whole thing seems to come down to who responded first, Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, we demean our politics and we demean ourselves.

The point about Grenfell House is that people have died and families and friends are in mourning. Our firefighters have been heroic, as have their colleagues in the police service and the health service. No praise can ever be enough. Many people have not been found yet, some on the top floors. This will not end well. The priorities must be with people, those who have perished, those who were injured, those who have lost their homes, lost everything. What caused the fire comes next.

Not that the authorities should dawdle in finding out what went wrong. On the contrary, the need for explanations is critical. Was this a one-off or could this happen somewhere else? The main question will be this: why did it happen? The answer at the moment is that we don’t know.

Why it happened will determine the actions that will follow. Was it arson, a terrorist attack, human error, structural design flaws? With Grenfell house still smouldering how can we possibly tell?

Is it not enough, for now, to mourn the dead, to feel huge sympathy for those who were trapped on the upper floors, to praise the heroics of the emergency services and then allow for the relevant parties, the police, the health and safety commission and the fire service to go about their business?

These flats have been in existence for some 43 years. Were they always a deathtrap or did something happen more recently to make it one? Perhaps only a full public inquiry will find out the answers, I don’t know, and could the fire have been avoided by additional investment in safety measures, such as sprinklers?

Theresa May, our highest ranking politician, has announced she will be conducting a private visit to the area today. This is the right thing to do and to say otherwise, to try to make political capital out at this time, would be quite wrong.

The pedlars of hate and cynicism, blaming politicians for things they cannot possibly know are true, have principles which are no better than those of the Daily Mail and the Sun. And, quite frankly, I have no more wish to read their bile on social networks than I have in reading the aforementioned newspapers. Both represent the poison that afflicts our divided country and, as with extremes, they have more in common with each other than they realise.

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Tony says:

    Making political capital out of tragedy. Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing here you fucking hypocrite?

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