From Grenfell to Camden, this capitalist system treats working class people as if they are dispensable pawns!

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28 June 2017

We will probably never how many lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire.  But the official death toll, which has now reached 80, is horrifying enough.  The result is a major political scandal - and not soon enough.
    The contributing factors to this disaster have built up over nearly 4 decades.  Every government in power over these years bears some responsibility.  And every one of them sat on its hands, despite numerous warnings, protests and precedents.
    Saving on social budgets and relieving fat cats of the "burden" of regulations by making a "bonfire of red tape", was so much more important than council tenants' safety!  After all, weren't these tenants just working class people who were too poor to buy a home?  In the politicians' "nation of homeowners", they were just dispensable pawns!

Criminal buck-passing

But what we have seen since the Grenfell fire is, in some sense, even more ominous.  It is the chaotic reaction of a huge bureaucracy in which every institution, from May's government to each local council, is frantically rushing to cover its own back, while trying to pass the buck to someone else - and, once again, regardless of the consequences for ordinary people.
    May initiated this buck-passing exercise by ordering all councils to get their housing blocks investigated at once - not private sector landlords, though!  And, predictably, since the government's own experts were to be the only judge, every single panel of cladding tested has been found to be faulty!
    What did May care about the consequences, as long as this allowed her to shift the blame onto local councils and away from her own government?  Especially as she's already announced that she won't guarantee any additional funding for cash-strapped councils to pay for the repairs!
    May just wanted us to forget that, since 2013, each government in which she sat, ignored the warnings of the enquiry over a similar fire, at Lakanal House in Camberwell, in 2009.  Had action been taken, the Grenfell Tower victims would probably still be alive!
    But we should not and will not forget that these governments did absolutely nothing!
    Predictably, May's move caused local councils to go into a tailspin, terrified of having to carry the can.  The climax came at 2am last Saturday, when 4,000 tenants from Camden's Chalcots estate were ordered, without any warning or explanation, to leave their homes.  It was complete chaos.  They had no time to prepare.  They were crowded into gyms or packed into hotel rooms.  No provisions had been made for the disabled and sick.  Those who refused to leave were threatened with the law.  It was as if they were being deported.
    When issuing their marching orders, the council's faceless bureaucrats and politicians couldn't care less about how it might feel for the tenants.  Following May's example, they were also covering their backs!

Neglect and profiteering

So whenever we hear politicians, whoever they may be, posturing as champions of the "national interest", whether it's about Brexit or whatever else, let's not forget those who died at Grenfell Tower, nor the tenants of the Chalcots estate.  And let's remember that the politicians' "national interest" does not include the rest of us, workers.
    Let's remember the long history of neglect which has led to the present situation.  Let's remember that this extended process which saw council functions tendered out, regulations and inspections relaxed and social budgets drastically cut, had no other purpose than to transfer a growing proportion of public funds into the hands of the profiteers.  This is what politicians call the "national interest" - the parasitism of the small layer of capitalists which owns everything in this society.
    The working class, on the other hand, has no interest in allowing this parasitism to wreck society and we have the means to fight it.  Corbyn's rhetorical suggestion that empty homes in wealthy Kensington be made available to the Grenfell Tower survivors was never meant to have practical consequences.
    But, by using its collective strength, the working class could requisition the wealthy's unused homes, in order to provide a roof to those who need one. Just as we could impose on all those involved in the management and maintenance of council estates, that they show their accounts - so that everyone can see who benefited from the criminal corner-cutting which led to the Grenfell disaster.
    Yes, this is what we owe to the Grenfell victims and to ourselves.  Because the only way to prevent the profiteers and their stooges in government from wrecking havoc, is for us, workers, to impose our own control over society, at every level!