UK: Grenfell Tragedy One Year after the Fire

Teresa May Accepts Responsibility and Culpability for Grenfell Tragedy - For A Workers and Tenants Tribunal into the Cause of the Fire


By Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, June 2018,




A year after the tragedy at Grenfell Teresa May has accepted that she bears responsibility for failing to meet the tenants at Grenfell on the 14th June 2017 when the tragedy happened. Jeremy Corbyn immediately visited the site. In a statement in the Evening Standard May apologises for her inaction at the time. “What I did not do on that first visit was meet the residents and survivors who had escaped the blaze. But the residents of Grenfell Tower needed to know that those in power recognized and understood their despair. And I will always regret that by not meeting them that day, it seemed as though I didn’t care”. [1]


May appointed an official enquiry but this proved to be a whitewash and a cover up failing to invite the most important people, survivors and tenants from Grenfell, to give evidence.


A year after the tragedy the police have not arrested anybody for the murder of these 79 tenants who died in the fire. It was social murder orchestrated through social and ethnic cleansing by the wealthier tenants of Kensington and Chelsea who did not want to see social housing tower blocks. Cheap and combustible cladding was erected to hide the outside of the building. The police are now interviewing the London Fire Brigade and apportioning blame on them for the cause of the fire. Firefighters and the Fire Brigades Union are innocent of any wrongdoing in their advice to ask tenants to remain in their flats. They gave the advise based on the estimation of a fire in a building that is built according to the regulations. Based on the informations which the firefighters had their decisions were correct. This is just a blame culture to allow the real culprits top escape punishment. The police are direct agents of the state. Their role is to protect the state and its institutions and they will not prosecute directors responsible for erecting the cladding or the tenant management organization which managed Grenfell Tower on behalf of Kensington and Chelsea borough council. “London fire brigade and its senior officers are facing a police investigation over the “stay put” policy that resulted in Grenfell Tower residents being told to remain inside their homes as the tower block blazed, according to Scotland Yard. Detectives are attempting to establish whether the order could have breached health and safety law”. [2]


The Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council is a Tory controlled authority with some prestigious houses as well as some very poor people living in the borough. It was a class divide between the very rich and the very poor. The Tories who managed Grenfell tower through a tenant management organization decided to hide Grenfell’s seemingly social housing block from their rich supporters who felt it was unseemingly and ugly building to look at. So they had cladding erected over the building. They chose the cheapest material saving £5,000. That it was inflammable and combustible, did not matter to the management. “Material used in the cladding that covered the Grenfell Tower was the cheaper, more flammable version of the two available options, an investigation of the supply chain has confirmed. Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminum composite material (ACM) used in the cladding, a company director, John Cowley, confirmed to the Guardian. He also said Omnis had been asked to supply Reynobond PE cladding, which is £2 cheaper per square metre than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for “fire resistant” to the companies that worked on refurbishing Grenfell Tower”.[3]


In fact the Tenant Management Organization has now washed its hands of the affair and handed the responsibility back to the council, no doubt trying to avoid prosecution for the deaths at Grenfell.


“The organization that managed Grenfell Tower and manages thousands of other properties across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is temporarily handing back responsibility for them to the council, saying it can no longer guarantee to meet the standards expected by residents. In a letter sent to residents just before Christmas, Fay Edwards, chair of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO), said: “The TMO board has reluctantly decided that it can no longer guarantee to fulfil its obligations with respect to the delivery of services contained in its contract with the council … to a standard that residents should expect.” [4]


It was a Labour government under Tony Blair that relaxed building regulation controls and allowed building companies to bypass very important health and safety regulations that may be responsible for tragedies like Grenfell occurring. In his drive to carry out capitalist policies very similar to the Tories, Blair hoped and wished to emulate himself as a savior for the ruling class. Boris Johnson, the present Foreign Secretary who was Mayor of London, cut and reduced the fighting capabilities of the London Fire Brigade, cutting services reducing staff and selling off fire engines which are essential in fighting fires.


Most of the tenants who died in the fire or survived it were from ethnic or migrant backgrounds. When their families travelled from abroad to attend memorial services or tried to say goodbye to their loved ones at funerals they were prevented from doing so by the unjust, racist, islamphobic terror- and immigration-laws by decisions of immigration officers who refused to issue them with a visa.  Javid, the new Home Secretary, upheld the decisions showing how this unjust Tory regime acts without any sympathy or regard for families whose members died in the fire. “Bereaved family members, prevented from paying tribute to their loved ones who died in Grenfell Tower in person because of visa issues, have told of their heartbreak. Karim Khaloufi, the younger brother of victim Khadija Khaloufi, 52, was unable to attend the public inquiry after suffering delays with his visa. And the husband of Fatemeh Afrasiabi, 59, missed the chance to pay tribute to his beloved wife or visit her grave because his immigration application was refused. Fatemeh Afrasiabi died with her sister Sakineh.“ [5]


In a previous article on Grenfell Tower Fire, we as the RCIT put forward an analysis that is borne out by facts revealed a year later. “Read the articles about the reasons for the Grenfell Tower fire. Read the explanations why, outrageously, highly flammable material was used during the building’s refurbishment instead of investing £2 more per square meter for safe, inflammable material. Calculate that we’re talking about £5,000 of extra cost that wasn’t invested in a building housing 600 people, an expense that would have come to a little bit more than £8 per person (1). Read the statements of the fire fighters who warned, years ago, about the building’s being unsafe as it had no working fire alarms and no sprinklers, infractions that were repeatedly ignored by officials. Examine the map of Kensington and Chelsea and locate where the most and the least deprived parts are, and you will discover that Grenfell Tower is situated in the poorest area not only of London but of the entire country”. [6]. And furthermore, we stated: “The anger and the hate against all of those people who are directly or indirectly responsible for the cruel death of our brothers and sisters in the Grenfell Tower fire are exploding, as the protests in its wake have demonstrated. This is a very important step towards ending such tragedies for good, but it is only a very small first step on the path of doing so. Those guilty for the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire must be held accountable.” [7]


The RCIT BRITAIN restates its position and puts forward the following transitional demands to unite the tenants and the working class and oppressed in a campaign to make those accountable who are guilty of this crime.


* A Tribunal to be organized by the Grenfell action committee and the Radical housing group to investigate the real reason for the fire and the punishment for those responsible (The KCTMO Management and the Directors of the Building Company that erected the cladding and knew it to be unsafe and inflammable).


* Open the Books-let the tenants see how much was spent on cladding and why no sprinklers or proper safety alarms were fitted in the years before the fire happened.


* Unoccupied houses and flats have to be immediately occupied. An action committee formed to protect tenants from fascist or police provocation must be organized.


* Stop the closure of Fire stations and support the local London Fire Brigades Union in its campaign to keep fire stations open! No to cuts and closures! Occupy fire stations which are threatened with closure!


* Social housing is a right that must be defended. We call on Jeremy Corbyn and Emma Dent Coad (Labour MP for Kensington and Chelsea) to support this campaign inside the Labour Party and throughout the trade union movement. However, we say: Do not rely on Corbyn and Dent Coad and don't believe blindly that they will fullfill this task. Instead organize a militant rank-and-file campaign in solidarity with the tenants, especially the migrants and their families, who suffered from the fire independent from the Labour leaders! All of us owe it to the families of the victims to organize such a solidarity campaign by any means!