Six months on from the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people in the UK’s wealthiest constituency, and shattered the lives of many hundreds more, Britain’s most powerful are reminded of the horrifying implications of muting the screams of the most impoverished.
Grenfell Tower stood tall amongst rows of Victorian houses, inhabited by Britain’s wealthiest. A symbol of how the rich and poor live together in Britain.
It’s corpse stands to remind us of the divisions between the rich and poor - an image that will permeate the halls of Westminster and the streets of London for decades to come. However, this isn’t a Dickens novel, this is reality. If the very people that we are governed by do not endeavour to reduce wealth inequality, these divisions will manifest themselves into more burning tower blocks and more lives that will never get a chance to be lived.
At St Paul’s Cathedral last week, a memorial service was held to remember the victims of the Grenfell tragedy. Friends and family of the victims and survivors of the fire sat amid those who are set to inherit a kingdom and those who debate our futures inside the House of Commons, forcing Britain’s powerful to look directly into the eyes of the people whose trust they betrayed.
No memorial service and no amount of money will ever bring back the 71 people who burned in Grenfell on the night of 14 June. It is too late for our elected representatives to reverse the inadequate housing laws which do not work to safeguard tenants. It is too late for our elected representatives to listen to the helpless voices of those who perished inside Grenfell Tower. It is too late to prevent the tragedy that ensued inside in one of London’s many high rise tower blocks.
In July 2017, an independent inquiry was opened into the causes and consequences of the fire. The main questions that the inquiry will be asking are whether the fire was caused by the design of Grenfell Tower itself, or whether it was caused by the failures of the local council to effectively communicate with its constituents.
It is absolutely paramount that the Grenfell Tower inquiry brings about justice for the people whose grief will never cease and whose scars will never heal.
Grenfell has become a synonym for tragedy, caused by the negligence of the institutions that are meant to protect us. If Kensington and Chelsea council had bothered to listen to the repeated concerns of Grenfell residents about their own safety, then perhaps the 71 people who died that night would still be alive today. One of the most devastating facts about the Grenfell fire is that it was preventable.
The Grenfell Tower disaster is a tragedy beyond belief, but Grenfell Tower is more than just a burnt out tower block. It is a physical manifestation of the people in society who we do not feel it is necessary to listen to. The neoliberal approach to politics in the UK is complicit in the murder of those who do not look or speak like those who walk between the walls of parliament.
If another tragedy of a similar nature to the Grenfell Tower fire is to be avoided, then those who reside in the circles of power must be forced to confront the tragedies they tried so hard to ignore.