The headlines read: “Grenfell Tower is Theresa May’s Katrina moment”
“Natural and man-made disasters have frequently been the last nail in the coffin of governments that were already tottering,” so wrote Patrick Cockburn in the Independent 18 June 2017.
“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…”
This horror fire, which has taken the lives of 70 people, with the numbers still rising, was likened to the New Orleans tragedy after hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina: Wikipaedia explains:
“…Overall, at least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest United States hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion (2005 USD)…”
“Over fifty breaches in New Orleans’s hurricane surge protection were the cause of the majority of the death and destruction during Katrina on August 29, 2005. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighbouring parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. According to a modelling exercise conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), two-thirds of the deaths in Greater New Orleans were due to levee and floodwall failure. All of the major studies concluded that the USACE, the designers and builders of the levee system as mandated by the Flood Control Act of 1965, is responsible. This is mainly due to a decision to use shorter steel sheet pilings in an effort to save money. In January 2008, Judge Stanwood Duval, U.S. District Court, ruled that despite the Corps’ role in the flooding, the agency could not be held financially liable because of sovereign immunity in the Flood Control Act of 1928. Exactly ten years after Katrina, J. David Rogers, lead author of a new report in the official journal of the World Water Council concluded that the flooding during Katrina “could have been prevented had the corps retained an external review board to double-check its flood-wall designs.”
“Between 80 and 90 percent of the residents of New Orleans were evacuated before the hurricane struck, testifying to some of the success of the evacuation measures. Despite this, many remained in the city, mainly those who did not have access to personal vehicles or who were isolated from the dissemination of news from the local governments. The Louisiana Superdome was used to house and support some of those who were unable to evacuate. Television shots frequently focused on the Superdome as a symbol of the flooding occurring in New Orleans…”
AN ‘ACT OF GOD’ YOU THINK ?
NOT REALLY, THAT’S ONLY HALF THE STORY.
More like levee and floodwall failure! In other words, the deaths, destruction and flooding resulted because of widespread corruption. Monies that should have been spent on building levees that would withstand a one-in-a-thousand-year hurricane, …. According to a modelling exercise conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), two-thirds of the deaths in Greater New Orleans were due to levee and floodwall failure. All of the major studies concluded that the USACE, the designers and builders of the levee system as mandated by the Flood Control Act of 1965, is responsible. This is mainly due to a decision to use shorter steel sheet pilings in an effort to save money….” (emphasis added…ed) - - Wikipedia
NOW TO THE LONDON TOWER-BLOCK INFERNO
Theresa May has been criticised as “inhuman and uncaring” after she sidestepped questions about the Grenfell Tower fire.
“In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight, Theresa May called the incident which killed at least 50 people “absolutely horrifying”. But asked whether she had failed to judge the public mood by host Emily Maitlis, Ms May appeared to skip over the question.
The host suggested the public needed an acknowledgement of responsibility from the government…”
Watching the PM dodging and weaving the questions rather than give straight answers, one is struck by the thought, Mrs May, the daughter of an Anglican minister, is first a politician who has learnt the PR tactics/strategy very well and second a Christian.
Council Failure to Spend £270m reserves on housing
“The council responsible for Grenfell Tower, where at least 58 people are now thought to have lost their lives after Wednesday’s horrific fire, has been accused of carrying out “unacceptable” financial practises after it emerged the borough had stockpiled £274m of usable reserves following years of chronic underspending.
Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye was killed in the blaze, said very serious questions needed to be asked about why the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was running a budget surplus despite repeated warnings from residents that the block posed a fire risk.
“The shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said the council needed to “immediately explain itself” over why the funds were not used to ensure safe housing. “If some of this money was spent on sprinkler systems and non-flammable cladding we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he told The Independent…
“One of the questions is why the council had £270m in reserve but apparently couldn’t afford sprinklers…
While some of the reserve money is ring-fenced, the revelation follows claims that additional spending on the west London block could have prevented the tragedy that killed at least 58 people on Wednesday. Questions were raised about the cladding that was fitted to the building during a 2015 refurbishment, which experts suggested may have helped the flames spread more rapidly throughout the tower than they would otherwise have.
“Fitting a fire-resistant alternative would have cost as little as £5,000 extra to install. The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association also said installing a sprinkler system would cost just £200,000…”
“It follows claims by Labour Councillor Robert Atkinson the council was “bribing the electorate with its own money” after it “systematically and deliberately created underspends”.
“Our suspicion, based on past experience, remains that this council will bring in and hoard the people’s money in non-election years (such as this) only to give it back as a pre-election bribe immediately before a council election – such as next year,” he said in a speech after 2017’s budget was announced…”