There has been a major fire. It has affected some of the poorest people in the country who lived in the richest borough of one of the richest cities in the world.
Rather than living in a shanty town under the Westway, the victims were housed in a local authority tower block. A public inquiry has been called.
However, the inquiry by the public has already produced its findings. The tower block was built in the 1970s. Its dated exterior clashed with its opulent surroundings. External cladding as part of refurbishment was not fireproof. It confounded the cellular design philosophy that was meant to contain conflagrations. Although the residents protested over the lack of fire precautions, their protests were ignored by the local authority. Worse still, they appear to have been ignored by opposition local politicians as well.
It has taken a major disaster for attention to be focused on the safety issues of this tower block. When Jon Snow of Channel Four News arrived on the scene, he was vociferously taken to task for only turning up after dozens of people have died. This accusation is one that can be made against most of the participants of the protests that took place in London. The hard-left, normally unpopular and ignored, is taking its opportunity. If the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers Party, whose banners were much in evidence in television coverage of these protests, truly cared about the issue, they would have taken it up before people died. Clearly a real life issue affecting ordinary people is not as glamorous as opposing the war against Islamist terrorism or boycotting Israel.
Communism is a weak political force. It relies on a weakened authority to gain traction. We are in the unfortunate position of having a diminished government at a critical time in this country’s history. This is the kind of situation that the hard-left thrives on. In fact, this is the kind of situation that the hard-left prepares for.
While small in number, the hard-left is always looking for this situation or that occurrence to mobilise sections of the public to their side. In the previous decade, there was the invasion of Iraq. Prior to that, there was the poll tax. In the 1980s the cause the got people onto the streets was a deployment of American cruise missiles on British soil. Compared to a tragedy in the centre of one of the richest cities in the world that affected its poorest people, these precedents are much more abstract. The Government has a challenge in the form of the fiery rhetoric that the poor were left to burn in a designer firetrap.
Already there are reports of a summer of discontent to be waged by the Left against the people of this country using this tragedy as a catalyst. While this may fizzle out – the protest in Oxford Street was poorly attended – the narrative has been captured by the Left with the apparent willing participation of the BBC and also Sky News.
It is in questionable taste to politicise an issue where innocent people have died. But then the hard left in this country is tasteless in the espousal of causes. The same group of people who are protesting at the deaths of Londoners in a tower block are the ones who are perfectly happy to support Russian bombs causing mass death in the tower blocks of Aleppo.
It gives me no pleasure to repeat my words of two years ago before Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party:
“[…]it is inconceivable, based on their past form, that the Labour movement will not try to influence democratic politics through extra-parliamentary action, especially as they do not respect the results of elections when they lose them, and have denounced the only person to given them their longest run in power through being – shock, horror – popular. Unite, the largest union and the party’s biggest paymaster, has changed its rule-book to authorise illegal activity.
It is possible that union opposition will coalesce into what will become illegal strikes and other direct actions. They are better prepared for the financial implications of court sequestrations of funds as they operate their own bank. There may be large mass demonstrations in London and other towns, which will turn violent. There may be some kind of illegal occupation of ground, perhaps ‘Occupy Trafalgar Square’ or some such. There may be a re-run of the General Strike, but this time by teachers, train drivers and health workers. The street violence may escalate to the degree that there will be very ugly incidents with serious injuries. The police may refuse to get involved; the Police Federation is not a good friend of the Conservative government. The Army may need to be called in. […] Anyone jailed during these disturbances would be accorded the status of political martyrs. There would be demonstrations and other actions calling for their freedom and a change of government by force.
[…]I do believe that the Labour movement is gearing up to goad the government into some form of reaction that will change forever how we view the State and its relationship to the people. They would also tarnish the Conservative Party as the party of oppression. Shocked and horrified by what was happening to their country, with the trains idle, the dead unburied, schools closed and hospitals turning away patients, the electorate may turn to Labour to make the horror stop.”
The Government must seize the narrative from those forces that seek its destruction. For a line of dominoes to collapse it is only necessary for the first one to be toppled. It is to be hoped that this human catastrophe is not the first domino.