This week we have been dealing, in the UK, with the awful tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. I send my heartfelt sympathies to all who have been affected in Kensington and huge admiration to all who have helped in the rescue effort and the continuing aftermath.
If you look online, there are hundreds of articles and reports and comment pieces about this appalling event. Many have excellent insights and background information. I won't mention anything particular but following last week's post about getting out of our informations 'bubbles', I would highly recommend reading press and comment from all sides of the political spectrum.
Interestingly, none have attempted to deny that lack of funding is a major cause of the situation on such estates. (And even the most virulent Right wing papers appear to have slightly toned down their anti immigrant rhetoric, given the backgrounds of many of those who have died or been affected.)
Back in April I wrote a blog post called Doing The Numbers in which I looked at the huge money amounts which are bandied about when referring to football, films etc whilst we in the UK are constantly being told that money for hospitals, schools and housing is not available.
I argued that we are not a poor nation and that lack of funding for services is a political choice not a necessity. Tragically, events like this tower block inferno bear this out in graphic detail. Underfunded hospitals and emergency services are left trying to rescue some of society's poorest people from underfunded and clearly dangerous housing.
There is no excuse in a country like ours for money not to be spent where it is needed. Our health and social services, schools and emergency workers are looking after all of us in some way. Only a tiny percentage of the population have a private GP for example. No-one, to my knowledge, has a private ambulance, fire service or police force on private 24/7 standby. And even if you could prove that you never touch public services in anyway (impossible but hey, give it a go if you have the money. Good luck with rubbish collection, using the roads, etc.) who do you think looks after and educates all the people who you rely on to serve you, clean for you, blah blah.
It took until 1918 for even most of our male ancestors to get the vote to say nothing of the women. Austerity is a political choice which has been forced upon us. It is not a necessity. Hopefully the Grenfell Tower will begin a chain of events which will result in people finally understanding this. We should not just accept what we are told. The increase in the young vote was heartening earlier this month. We need to keep that momentum.
Kensington Popular Front*, anyone?
*with apologies to Citizen Smith fans!