The victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster were “murdered by political decisions” made by politicians over decades, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has warned.
Speaking at an event at Glastonbury Festival, the Hayes and Harlington MP criticised the failure to build houses and cuts to the fire service that “contributed to those deaths”.
The Grenfell Tower disaster took the lives of 79 people, with flammable cladding widely blamed for helping to fuel the blaze by those who lived there.
While likely to face criticism for politicising the tragedy, McDonnell is the latest Labour politician to criticise the political class in the the aftermath.
On Saturday, Diane Abbott blamed the disaster on Tories considering people living in social housing as “second-class citizens” and given “second-class standards of safety”. MP David Lammy today said the announced death toll of 79 is “far, far too low” and “fuelling suspicion of a cover up”.
Addressing a crowd at the festival’s Left Field a day after Jeremy Corbyn, McDonnell said:
“Is democracy working? It didn’t work if you were a family living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower.
“Those families, those individuals - 79 so far and there will be more - were murdered by political decisions that were taken over recent decades.
“The decision not to build homes and to view housing as only for financial speculation rather than for meeting a basic human need made by politicians over decades murdered those families.
“The decision to close fire stations and to cut 10,000 firefighters and then to freeze their pay for over a decade contributed to those deaths inevitably and they were political decisions.”
Speaking to Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live from Glastonbury Festival, McDonnell also claimed Labour would have won the general election if the campaign had lasted a few weeks longer.
The Shadow Chancellor said the centre ground of politics had shifted, which was why the party got “such a good result” on polling day.
Labour won 262 seats in the general election, up from the 232 secured by Ed Miliband in 2015, but the Conservatives remain the largest party in Parliament.
McDonnell said: “We are the centre of politics now - politics has moved on to our ground and that’s why we got such a good result.
“That’s why I think if a few weeks time, if the campaign had lasted longer, we would most probably be in Government.”