Three years since the Grenfell fire: Collaboration with Grenfell Tower Inquiry must end!

By Robert Stevens
15 June 2020

Sunday marked three years since 72 people—men, women and 18 children, including an unborn baby—died in Grenfell Tower in an act of social murder.

They died in a tower block that was turned into a death trap as part of “regeneration” plans hatched by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) and its tenant management organisation (TMO).

The 24-storey tower was encased in cheap, flammable cladding. With the building also having myriad fire hazards on the inside, a small kitchen fire on the fourth floor engulfed the entire structure in minutes.

Millions in the UK and around the world were shocked and outraged that this could happen in the middle of London—one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world.

Protesters demand justice for the victims of Grenfell

What happened was a crime and yet today the guilty political and corporate parties are no nearer facing justice than they were on the morning after the fire.

Everything that has happened over the last three years points to a cover-up more grotesque than that perpetrated against the victims, bereaved and survivors of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Last November, after more than 30 years, the Hillsborough families were denied justice for 96 deaths with no-one held responsible.

Three years on from Grenfell:

Sir Martin Moore-Bick

The governments of May and Boris Johnson have shed no end of crocodile tears over Grenfell. Yet again, Downing Street, other government buildings and the Houses of Parliament were bathed in green light last night—the colour adopted by the Grenfell community in their fight for justice. But everything else is business as usual. At least half a million people still go to bed every night in unsafe buildings. Over 23,000 households remain covered in flammable cladding. Thousands of households are deemed “high-risk” and could suffer the same fate as Grenfell as they are covered in the same type of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding. Despite repeated statements that remedial work would be prioritised, next to nothing has been done to make safe even the most dangerously compromised buildings.

A report published last week by Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) committee notes that Grenfell “was an entirely avoidable tragedy” and that those who died paid a “terrible price for a catastrophic failure of industry and Government.” This statement alone justifies arrests, charging and trials of the guilty.

Titled “Cladding: Progress of Remediation”, its introduction adds, “But Grenfell Tower was not a unique building. That night, there were more than 450 high-rise residential or other publicly owned buildings in England with the same, or similar, dangerous ACM cladding systems. There are still over 300. And this doesn’t include the many thousands of buildings of all heights with other forms of combustible cladding or those buildings with serious fire safety defects, including combustible insulation, timber balconies and walkways, missing fire breaks and faulty fire doors.”

After having “investigated the progress of remediation of high-rise and high-risk buildings,” the HCLG concedes, “It is deeply shocking and completely unacceptable that, three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, there are still 2,000 high-risk residential buildings with dangerous cladding.”

As of May 2020, “of the 457 high-rise residential or other publicly owned buildings over 18 metres initially with ACM cladding, 149 had completed remediation works and 307 were yet to be remediated.”

This is only the tip of a gigantic iceberg. “In addition to those 300 buildings with ACM cladding awaiting remediation, we now know there are likely to be a further 11,300 buildings with other forms of combustible cladding, of which approximately 1,700 are high-risk and likely to require urgent remediation.”

The government has committed just £1 billion to make buildings safe. The HCLG estimates that “The Building Safety Fund will need to be increased to address all fire safety defects in every high-risk residential building—potentially costing up to £15 billion.”

Despite its damning findings, the HCLG, made up of Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, offers nothing to remedy the crisis. It merely asks the government “to ensure that all buildings of any height with ACM cladding…be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021” and that buildings “with other fire safety defects, including non-ACM cladding, should be remediated before the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2022.”

Put bluntly, this will not happen.

The Grenfell fire revealed the gruesome outcome of a decades-long and ongoing war against the working class, which saw the removal of all restraints on wealth accumulation for the super-rich, including building and fire safety regulations. The fire exposed the failure of capitalism, which is unable to provide the most basic requirement of safe, affordable homes.

Boris Johnson tells London Assembly members and protesting firefighters to get stuffed when being challenged about fire service cuts during his tenure as Mayor of London

As prime minister, Johnson, who told protesting firefighters to “get stuffed” when they opposed his cuts as Major of London, is implementing a Malthusian “herd immunity” policy that has led to the death of well over 60,000 people during the pandemic. At least two Grenfell survivors—one of them 63-year-old Virgilio Castro—have died of COVID-19.

Nothing good can come of the whitewash that is the Moore-Bick inquiry. Those such as Jeremy Corbyn and the Fire Brigades Union who continue to support it are facilitating a state cover-up.

The Socialist Equality Party reiterate our call for the Grenfell families and their legal teams to withdraw all cooperation from these fraudulent proceedings. We urge all those fighting for justice to demand that the guilty are immediately arrested, charged, and put on trial.

For further information visit the Grenfell Fire Forum Facebook page .

 

The author also recommends:

Two years since the Grenfell inferno: The case for socialism
[14 June 2019]

Official inquiry cover-up of Grenfell Fire begins “second phase”
[27 January 2020]

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Anatomy of a cover-up—Part 1
[3 March 2020]

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Anatomy of a cover-up—Part 2
[4 March 2020]

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Anatomy of a cover-up—Part 3
[5 March 2020]