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The profit over people mentality

London's shame was never more palpable

To live in a society that provides safe and affordable accommodation, equality of opportunity and the chance for all to be heard were ideals that were unquestionably disparaged in the case of the Grenfell Tower fire. Not only were the homes of residents unsafe, but they themselves tried so desperately to alert those in power of the death traps that they inhabited.

Yet sadly, they were discounted simply for their attempts to make their lives more secure. They were ignored because they were poor and deemed less worthy of a safe roof over their heads and the ability to live without the fear of a painful death. It was as if the residents of Grenfell were invisible in the richest borough in London, and the mistreatment they encountered was a process that should never have occurred from the outset, let alone endured for so long.

This speaks of a society that is elitist, privileged and oblivious to the views and needs of the poorest in our country. Owen Jones described Grenfell as social murder. A term that denotes a world in which society is so heavily rigged in favour of the vested interests and the rich and the powerful. It suggests that the poorest in society were ultimately left to die in the disconnected world that they inhabited. The question we all need to ask ourselves is: Should we be using such emotive language to describe events like Grenfell?

The Grenfell Tower fire has had wide reaching impacts. With subsequent tests on tower blocks also deeming them unsafe, people have questioned the safety of housing that is provided for the poorest in society. It conforms to the idea that politicians and elites have disregarded the working-class communities which rely upon social housing. For decades, working-class people have seen their employment opportunities diminish, affordable housing become unachievable and their way of life demonised like they were criminals.

Even now, almost four months after the fire, many residents are yet to be rehoused in suitable, alternative accommodation. The disregard which they experienced has to some extent continued even months after the horrific events of the fire. Not only are residents still destitute without the security of long-term, safe housing, but their lives are still being marginalised and disrespected by the politicians whose lack of compassion before the tragedy led to so many lives being ended at a stage that was far too premature.

Graffiti tribute to the lives lost in the grenfell tower tragedy. Source: Duncan C (via Flickr)

So, is social murder really such an extreme term to describe Grenfell? Whilst the state and the powerful did not consign the residents of Grenfell to their deathbeds, their actions in the years previous to the fire culminated in a world where such a disaster is possible in one of the richest and most developed cities in the world. London’s shame was never more palpable.

The profit over people mentality suggests that social murder is not the over-emotive response it appears at first glance. Grenfell was a horrific tragedy and it is testament to a society that can effectively relegate the poorest to a life of shameful ostracism.

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