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Grenfell Tower Is Theresa May’s Katrina Moment
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It is a dangerous moment for any government when the public suspects that it is incapable of preventing a great disaster like the Grenfell Tower fire. Angry people see the state as failing in its basic duty to keep them safe. Politicians in power, in such circumstances, are embarrassingly keen to show that there is a firm hand on the tiller, calmly coping with a crisis for which they are not to blame. Above all else, they need to dissuade people from imagining that a calamity is a symptom that something is rotten in the state of Britain.

Whatever the real culpability, it is vital to play for time in the expectation that the news agenda will ultimately move on. The old PR adage holds that the accused should first say “no story” or, in other words, deny all guilt until the media has lost interest and they can safely say “old story”.

This ploy is usually effective but is difficult in the present case. The mistakes that led to the inferno in Kensington are so blatant, undeniable and easy to establish that the Government looks evasive as it pretends that long enquiries are necessary to establish what went wrong.

It is already known that the cladding that encased the tower was inflammable and led to the building igniting like a torch within 15 minutes. It is likewise established that this material is banned in buildings of any height in the US because it poses a fire risk and that it was chosen in preference to fire-resistant cladding because it was cheaper. A sprinkler system, which would have suppressed the original blaze before it spread, was never installed because it would have cost a small amount of money. The Government is quoted, in words that it may come to regret, as saying that “it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire-sprinkling systems effectively”.

What I find so shocking and disgusting is the way in which the Government has deregulated the building industry with the excuse that it is “cutting red tape”, while at the same time it is strangling the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable people with “red tape” in order to deprive them of meagre benefits they receive from the state. Compare the enthusiasm of successive governments to increase regulations for claimants in the name of austerity with their laggard performance when it comes to protecting the public.

Just as ministers were trying to explain their snail-like progress in putting in place basic rules to stop tower blocks burning down, I spoke to a charity worker about the hideous maze of regulations facing those in most need. People with mental health problems must fill in labyrinthine forms, something which, by the nature of their disability, they cannot do. Once upon a time, an experienced social worker would have helped them, but their numbers have been slashed. The charity worker, who wanted to stay anonymous, said that often the red tape was so complicated that “mental patients give up in despair and do without the benefits which should be theirs by right”.

It is not only the mentally ill who fall victim to these regulatory booby traps. Another example is families who are about to be evicted and become homeless. The charity worker said: “I always tell them that they must stay in the house until the bailiffs begin to break the door down. This is because, if they leave even a few hours before the bailiffs arrive, the council may deem them to be ‘intentionally’ homeless and refuse to do anything for them.”

The Government is clearly frightened that the burned bodies in Grenfell Towers will be seen as martyrs who died because of austerity, deregulation and outsourcing. It is not as if Theresa May does not know about social wrongs and her speeches often contain eloquent descriptions of the miseries facing the mentally ill. But her proposals smell of political opportunism, primarily geared to attracting media attention and usually ending up as an expression of good intentions with nothing concrete happening.

Despite all May’s supposed concern for the mentally ill, something she presents as a sort of signature policy, her accomplishments are small. Criminalisation of mental illness has continued relentlessly and the number of beds available to mental patients is now 17,000. This is well below the number of mentally ill people who are in prison – 21,000, a quarter of the prison population.

Most of these miseries are suffered in silence by deprived people unable to defend themselves. Injustices may evoke concern, but there is little pressure for action because most people are not affected. This is very different from the Grenfell Tower disaster, visually overwhelming even as a burned-out hulk, as were the shattered towers of the World Trade Centre on 9/11. Everything about the disaster conveys a sense of total failure in which the whole political system is implicated.

Natural and man-made disasters have frequently been the last nail in the coffin of governments that were already tottering. There was the Tangshan earthquake in China in 1976, which helped determine who would rule the country after Mao Zedong. The Rex Cinema fire in Abadan in Iran in 1978 was blamed on the Shah and helped end his reign. The failure of President Bashar al-Assad to do anything for the two or three million Syrians who fled to the cities to escape the four-year-long drought in 2006-10 helped to cause the uprising the following year.


But commentators are probably right in seeing the closest parallel to the burning of the Grenfell Tower as being the devastating floods in New Orleans 12 years ago when Hurricane Katrina sent a 9m-high surge of water into the city on 29 August 2005 that led to the death of 1,464 people. The disaster had been repeatedly predicted by experts, but nothing effective was done so the levees and flood walls were too low or too weak or had been built out of clay that rapidly disintegrated under the impact of the rising water. The victims were mostly poor African Americans without the influence to get adequate flood defences.

As New Orleans was being engulfed, President George W Bush was on an extended holiday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he remained for several days. He finally flew back to Washington on 31 August, his plane making a detour over the stricken city. It was a picture of him looking distant and disengaged as he viewed the wreckage of New Orleans that destroyed his reputation forever.

It is curious that Theresa May should make much the same mistake as Bush by not meeting survivors in Kensington while appearing cold and uninterested. Even the photo editors have turned against her and mostly chose to contrast her chilly appearance with a cuddly looking Jeremy Corbyn comforting a victim. She appears to be somebody who cannot handle pressure, which makes it look particularly odd of her and her advisers to have sought to win re-election as the unshakeable national leader. Corbyn, on the contrary, seems to thrive on crisis and adversity.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Britain, Theresa May 
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  1. jim jones says:

    What I found shocking about the story was the fact that the Labour Party got away with electoral gerrymandering on a massive scale when they should have ended up in prison.

  2. peterike says:

    Did any actual legacy British person die in this fire? Everyone I’ve seen has been very diverse. In which case, who really cares?

    That young Italian couple was a shame though. The rest, England is much better off without.

  3. Most of these miseries are suffered in silence by deprived people unable to defend themselves.

    Give me a break. These ‘diverse’ folks are people who messed up their own nations in Pakistan and Africa and came to UK for Free Gibs. And they did to that building what they did to their own nations.

    If UK government is to be blamed, it is for having prevented the FLOOD of mass invasion.

    In order for a nation to survive, it must be like a levee and dam to keep out the flood of foreign invaders. But UK elites handed over power to globalists who open the levees.
    Worse, they infected the minds of Brits to welcome this flood as baptism of redemption and rejuvenation when all it did in the long run was cut off the Brits from their deep roots.

    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • Troll: truthtellerAryan
    • Replies: @jimmyriddle
  4. Cortes says:

    Wrong, Patrick.

    Grenfell Tower is the British equivalent of the Kursk disaster.

    At the time of the Kursk disaster Putin was lambasted by the western MSM for his apparent indifference to the fate of the families of the sailors. The shambles of the British elite trying to empathise in the last few days is much, much worse.

    The nonsense about the “Queen of hearts ” was a Blairite confection: this is real. May better pray there’s no election later this year.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Excal
  5. The victims used to live in far more hazardous digs in their poop holes of origin.

  6. anon • Disclaimer says:

    “Mentally ill people”?

    Perhaps. But from what i am seeing on the news they all seem to be foreigners, from the third world. Why is the U.K. importing poverty?

  7. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    I’d like to protest against the use of columnists’ first names in an effort to show lack of respect. This isn’t the only context in which they’re used, of course, but when they are used merely to annoy they give the whole comment a rude and trollish vibe.

  8. Local council built.

    Local council owned.

    Local council managed and maintained.

    Local council in charge of renovations.

    Newly elected Labour MP was on that council.

    Therefore it’s the Tories fault? If May can’t turn the blame game around she deserves to be booted out.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Anonymous
  9. Newly elected Labour MP was on that council.

    Therefore it’s the Tories fault? If May can’t turn the blame game around she deserves to be booted out.

    May has the air of a civil servant accidentally promoted into political office. Great at behind the scenes backstabbing, which is why Boris got sidelined, but no damned good at retail politics. She would never have won a primary election against Boris.

  10. Excal says:

    I am not sure that judging anything by what media reports is a very worthwhile exercise.

    The Katrina disaster, though far more vast in scope, is not a thoroughly bad comparison. Katrina was not the fault of the federal government, but the fault of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, which repeatedly prevented the Corps of Engineers from repairing the levees by diverting funds.

    Bush apparently wanted to go right away, but was persuaded that the presence of his entourage would be disruptive and unhelpful — and also he might have seen, up close, just how incompetently the city and state were dealing with the situation.

    Similarly, Grenfell Tower was (so it seems) the fault of layers of incompetent and complacent local management, although it appears that building codes may be in urgent need of correction.

    (I’m afraid I must agree with “Anon” that the use of first names is inappropriate and impolite.)

    • Replies: @Wally
  11. jim jones says:

    People have pointed out that the block was not run by the local Council but by KCTMO. This body
    is made up of 8 TENANTS, 4 councilors and 3 independent members:

  12. @peterike

    poor poor, pitiful you…troll

  13. And the drivel never ends.

    The building was a creature of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where I lived thirty years ago.

    It was nothing to do with the British government of the Barren Cat-lady.

  14. @peterike

    “legacy British”

    I use the word English.

    • Replies: @anon
  15. All organisms have defensive mechanism.

    Organisms can only survive by assessing threat and acting upon them. As humans are organisms, they are no different. In order for race-culture to survive on a territory, it must defend and preserve itself from outsiders and invaders. While it’s true that every nation has history of invasions and incursions, they only became stable civilizations when there was sufficient political, military, and legal power to protect the nation from further invasions. Without such security and stability, national order isn’t possible. This is why stuff like ‘UK is a nation of immigrants’ is retarded. UK was constantly invaded BEFORE it was a nation. The invaders came at will on warships and laid waste to native populations. (Also, the invaders of the past were fellow white Europeans, so they could eventually meld with the existing populations.) Once Britain gained security, order, and power, it defended itself from further foreign invasions. If foreigners did arrive(and settle), it was with the permission of the state in consideration of national interest.
    A nation that cannot stop or control the inflow of outsiders is the victim of military imperialism, demographic imperialism, and/or financial-ideological imperialism(that colonizes native souls with the mental virus that ‘diversity’ is good when it spells doom for native identity and culture).

    Look at nature. All animals must sense and assess degrees of threat level. When humans encroach on wolf territory, the wolves growl. Hippos don’t like Negroes coming closer with spears. Bears fight other bears to maintain territory for food, mating, and security. Birds guard their nest and attack threatening species. Without such defensive mechanisms, no complex organism could survive. Bees don’t just allow any bunch of organisms to come and eat the honey. Bees work like crazy to collect the honey to feed their own community. (Some say modern societies cannot produce enough life and that’s why they need immigration to get new workers. But if modern societies have given up on life, it means they are soul-sick and culturally misguided, and THAT DISEASE should be diagnosed and treated. If someone won’t eat, don’t give his food to another person. Convince him to eat again.)

    Globalism has infected Western minds with the notion that their natural defensive mechanism is ‘evil’, ‘racist’, and ‘xenophobic’. It dilutes hormonal instincts and weakens carnivorous instincts, turning whites into human herbivores. Brits have been turned from lions(without a powerful pride of territory) to rabbits(who just wander around aimlessly in their own nation without claiming it).

    So, even though UK is being remade by massive invasion, Brits have no defensive mechanism left. If Brits still have any aggressive drives left, it is against their own will for self-preservation. (Jewish ideological control infected British minds with the sanctimonious notion that white Britons must serve the interests of the holy Jewish minority before their own. This elevation of minority-as-sacred-group led to white Britons placing every non-white minority above whites on the national pedestal. In time, white Britons even came to worship homos. That this is a globalist-imperialist phenomenon is made clear by what is happening in Ireland. Even though the Irish have defined their own narrative against Great Britain, its current national agenda is identical to that of the British because both nations are under globalist Sorosian control. Both nations worship non-white minorities and homos above native whites and real-sexuals who are to be attacked and denounced if they resist massive immigration-invasion and homomania. This is why Ireland has a Hindu-Homo prime minister and why London has a Pakistani-Muslim mayor. The two peoples who never agreed on much are now totally agreed on national self-destruction and white self-loathing as the highest virtue. Other than the ideological infection of Jewish-controlled globalism, there is the factor of Afromania and Jungle Fever that have whites all over the world worshiping Negroes as MLK-Mandela Magic Negro race and ‘cool-badass’ race whom whites must admire, praise, and emulate 24/7.)

    It used to be Brits were most aggressive against would-be invaders, such as Spanish or Germans. Now, they are most aggressive against would-be-patriots-and-defenders. Brits get most passionate about attacking and destroying patriots and offering UK to the Sorosian god of globalism. UK is no longer seen as a nation among nations but a part of a globo-rapture-empire of Jew-worship, homomania, Afromania, and Diversity. UK must serve that higher god by surrendering national identity, borders, and sovereignty. UK is now to the world what Puerto Rico is to the US.
    And the elites of UK, instead of standing up for national defense and preservation, lead the nation in surrendering to globalism and mammon. Also, elites have used the media and academia to infect the younger generation with the idea that UK has always been a ‘nation of immigrants’, a defenseless domain that welcomes invasions than fends them off.

    What UK really needs is AUSTERITY AGAINST DIVERSITY, ‘diversity’ being just euphemism for invasion.

    Now, some organisms are compatible. Even in the wild, lions coexist with gophers, turtles, vultures, and etc. The biggest threat to lions are other lions.
    Likewise, people of any nation can co-exist with birds, squirrels, pond turtles, seagulls, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoon, opossums, and etc. People need to fear other peoples the most, just like lions need to fear other prides of lions the most. White Australians have nothing to fear from kangaroos, koala bears, or wombats. Not even from crocodiles as long as one doesn’t get too near them and prod them with sticks. They have far more to fear from massive immigration of Asians, Arabs, and Africans.

    Different groups of humans have competing identities, interests, narratives, and appetites.
    Palestinians weren’t done in by pigeons, fish, or jackals. They were done in by other humans: the British imperialists, Zionists, Soviets, and Americans.
    Tibetans and Uighurs are not being done in by sheep, eagles, toads, or snakes. They are being done in by other humans, the Han Chinese. The biggest threat to any organism is, more often than not, others of its own kind. Because they have similar objectives, they compete and fight for the same thing. It’s like a man who wants a certain woman need not compete with male pigs, wolves, moose, hippos, wombats, and etc for her. Those other species are not interested in the woman. He must compete with other men. A horse, bison, bear, hamster, python, or cougar will not take a white woman from a white man. It is the Negro who will.

    Nation is the same way. To own it, a people must compete with other peoples. Lose the defensive mechanism(under whatever fancy pants ‘progressive’ idealism), and it’s only a matter of time before you lose your nation, narrative, and culture.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Clyde
  16. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill Jones

    Are there any English people in England? Or at least London? Saw a big article in THE DAILY MAIL about this tragedy. None of the people seemed English or British to me. If I didn’t know it had happened in London, I would have thought it was a middle eastern country or somewhere in Africa.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  17. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Priss Factor

    “Diversity” is just a code word for anti-white. So too is the asinine word “multiculturalism”.

  18. @anon

    I use the word English to drive home that point.

    • Replies: @Fredrik
  19. Wally says:

    Bush declared a state of emergency days before Katrina hit.
    Most of the dummies didn’t leave.

    The worse areas were not black New Orleans areas, but were adjacent white areas, hence no media attention.

    And Katrina was not a particularly big hurricane at that.

  20. Anonymous [AKA "WangChung"] says:

    Correct GW Bush was trying not to be a media whore and let the experts do their job. As you say the Mississippi Gulf coast was decimated and flattened but that was ignored cause of wink-wink the demographics were different. NOLA got all the coverage because again wink-wink-nudge-nudge different demographics. Katrina was the “perfect storm” of incompetence ( pun intended) with the chick governor and the colossal idiot mayor of NOLA Ray Nagin…

    • Replies: @utu
  21. Fredrik says:
    @Bill Jones

    Most of the names looked distinctly Commonwealth so it’s not like they didn’t belong or weren’t welcome in England.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @colm
  22. Of course if London wasn’t so overcrowded because of immigration this crappy old tower block could have been pulled down instead of refurbished on the cheap.

    Tower blocks are a bad idea for public housing since maintenance costs are very high and residents often have little interest in looking after them.

  23. utu says:

    GW Bush was trying not to be a media whore and let the experts do their job. As you say the Mississippi Gulf coast was decimated and flattened but that was

    Experts like FEMA director Michael Brown: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

  24. A lot of nonsense is being talked about this. Apparently the building had been equipped with flammable exterior cladding cladding that was not legal in the UK for a building of this height. (Apparently there are no global EU building codes.) Someone is no doubt legally responsible. Someone signed off on the refurbishing.

    There was nothing that Mrs May could have done. A show of hugging some of the relatives of the people who died would just have been public relations, and meeting with angry confused people would just be a disaster and achieve nothing. There are no answers to be given, nobody yet knows how many people died. Nobody yet knows how they will be rehoused. As far as I know nobody is sleeping in the street or starving. Children left without parents will be cared for.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  25. Incitatus says:

    “What I find so shocking and disgusting is the way in which the Government has deregulated the building industry with the excuse that it is “cutting red tape”...”

    Single stairway, sprinkler system absent, and highly combustible exterior paneling in a 24-story residential tower. “Deregulation” or blind, corrupt stupidity? “Building industry” or code authorities with a suicide wish?

    Questions. Does the single stairway have direct outlet at the building base? Is the stair enclosure compromised by utility penetrations (one source reported a gas line run through the stairwell – hopefully bogus). Other unrated materials used in the rehab? Smoke evacuation or pressurization in fire emergency mode? Smoke and heat detectors? Operational? How many exceptions were granted to code statutes, and why?

    Condolences to London. Seems you’ve regressed to behavior Dickens so persuasively exposed. Don’t worry. The US isn’t far behind.

    • Replies: @Anon
  26. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    I agree. It’s the fault of the person who made the decision to use the wrong cladding and not install the sprinkler system, and who was probably the same person. The reason all the blame is being cast at May is because an awful lot of people on the left who deserve blame are trying to avoid it by misdirection.

    Local councils can write building codes, send inspectors, and sock builders with massive fines if they don’t obey. It’s not the Tories fault. The building was in a Labor district.

  27. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Most of this could have been avoided if they’re installed that simple, old-fashioned device, the outside fire escape. In the days before fire-proof materials were available, fire escapes were your backup system for human error.

  28. Incitatus says:

    “Most of this could have been avoided if they’re installed that simple, old-fashioned device, the outside fire escape.”

    Your heart’s in the right place. But exterior fire escapes – installed adjacent to combustible cladding that caught fire like gasoline – wouldn’t have saved a soul. More’s the pity.

  29. @Priss Factor

    That’s a rather silly comment.

    The residents of the building were not ones who thought it would be a good idea to clad it in polythene sandwiched between, what is basically aluminium foil.

    A thin sheet of aluminium ignites at 520C, and melts at 660C. The temperature of a match is 800C. Polythene melts at around 200C and then behaves like napalm.

    Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (the quango that the council set up to handle social housing) actually threatened tenants who complained about the block with legal action:

    People should be going to prison for this, but I’m not holding my breath. These kinds of disasters happen in China, but there, occasionally, the guilty party is shot.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  30. anon • Disclaimer says:

    No. They did NOT “belong” there.

  31. colm says:

    Steve. I thought you liked gentrification. This is a perfect gentrification moment, cleaning the city all these undesirables.

  32. colm says:

    They did not belong. Period.

    The people who would have supported Brexit would not have wanted them.

    • Replies: @Fredrik
  33. Clyde says:
    @Priss Factor

    You have it all correct in a semi-poetic, stream of consciousness way. I disagree 10% otherwise it’s all good like your previous.

  34. @jimmyriddle

    They are invaders in another nation. I grieve for none of them.

    If Germans near British waters drowned in a submarine during WWII, would you care?
    These non-white hordes in the UK are invaders who’ve been enabled by UK cuck-collaborators whose minds are infected with PC.

    Under PC globalism, the invaders arrogantly act as if they are entitled to the nation while the natives have to prove their worthiness to live in their own nations(of their ancestors), and this worthiness can only be demonstrated by willing to welcome invasion and radical transformation of their nation into the third world.

    So, there you go. If you are a white Briton, you deserve to live in Britain not because it’s the land of your forbears but because you welcome invasion by foreigners on the falsehood that ‘Great Britain is a nation of immigrants’, i.e. foreigners(as would-be-immigrants) have more right to your nation(which isn’t yours anymore, by the way) than those with ancient roots. If you invoke right of blood and soil, you don’t belong since the UK has been rebranded as a nation of ‘immigrants and diversity’. So, a white patriot with 1000yrs of ancestry in Britain has less right to live in UK that some ghastly Negro African or inbred Pakistani grubster.

    Yet, you are bitching about building material. Alive or dead, those invaders don’t belong.
    The problem is too many Brits have been sold on globo-rapture and the opiate-high of feeling smugly supremacist in piety by chanting the ‘diversity’ mantra.

    Let it burn. Every building housing these scum invaders should burn to the ground.

    • Replies: @Incitatus
    , @jimmyriddle
  35. Ed says:

    Because of red state IDpol, the comments are getting increasingly ridiculous.

    The Kensington local council has been Tory controlled like, forever. So shifting any blame from the Tory government that has been in power since 2010 to the Tory controlled local borough doesn’t help as much as you guys think . The Mayor of London was also a Tory pol until last year.

    At least with Katrina the bad guys at the time ran the state and the city, though the whole argument wound up falling flat with the general public anyway.

  36. Incitatus says:
    @Priss Factor

    “Let it burn. Every building housing these scum invaders should burn to the ground.”

    You use the egregious failure of civic standards as an opportunity to legitimize the untimely death of those you abhor. How brave!

    When’s the last time you had work done around the house? Trust it’s up to code? Have faith in the building code and enforcement?

    Sleep well.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  37. Hibernian says:

    Your last sentence is more than a little questionable. It may have been not quite as bad as predicted, but compared to other hurricanes, it was one of the worst.

  38. @Priss Factor

    Hard to tell whether you’re a Soros shill, or just off your meds.

    If it’s the former, you need to tone it down for credibility.

  39. Pericles says:

    The blame for Katrina somehow blew past the Mayor of New Orleans (D) and Governor of Louisiana (D) and landed several hundreds of miles away in the lap of President Bush (R). Whew, close one!

  40. Fredrik says:

    Then they should say so.

  41. @Jonathan Mason

    What the fuck are ” global EU building codes.”?

  42. MBlanc46 says:

    People who depend on the state to defend them deserve what they get.

  43. a k says:

    Surprise! The building did not collapse. Can the experts look into it?

    • Replies: @Miro23
  44. Anonymous [AKA "wang doo"] says:

    The council was always Conservative, never Labour, the currant MP was a member of the opposition on the council and therefor had no effect on any decisions that the council may have made.

  45. TWS says:

    By Katrina you mean overhyped by the media and dishonestly used by all and sundry to push their agendas. Because if not you’re full of it.

  46. Miro23 says:
    @a k

    Surprise! The building did not collapse. Can the experts look into it?

    They already have.

    A long list if high rises of all types have had serious and long burning fires and none had a total collapse apart from 3 in the same place and on the same day – and even more curiously, the fires in two of them were short lived and had almost gone out, and in the third they were so minor that they didn’t even touch 90% of the structural pillars.

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