POLITICS

Grenfell Tower Is 'A Symbol For Tory Britain', Says Len McCluskey

'In the words of the poet Ben Okri: In this age of austerity, the poor die for others’ prosperity.'

09/07/2017 18:27

Len McCluskey has called Grenfell Tower a “symbol of Tory Britain” as he launched an excoriating attack on Kensington and Chelsea council. 

The Unite boss said victims of the blaze had been “murdered” by “local authority cuts, by corporate greed and by uncaring capitalism” as he laid blame for the disaster at the door of politicians.

Speaking at Durham Miners’ Gala, he branded the burnt out tower, where emergency services continue to look for bodies, “a symbol for Tory Britain”. 

Drawing parallels between Grenfell Tower and Hillsborough, he also ripped into Kensington and Chelsea council, saying the local authority was “unable or unwilling” to “protect working class people in their homes”. 

“Austerity kills,” said the union leader. “In the words of the poet Ben Okri: In this age of austerity, the poor die for others’ prosperity. 

“Grenfell stands as a symbol for Tory Britain. Profit and greed before people. 

“I agree with John McDonnell, the residents who died in Grenfell Tower were murdered, murdered by years of local authority cuts, by corporate greed and by uncaring capitalism.” 

PA Wire/PA Images
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey: "20 years on, we have justice for Hillsborough, now we are going to have to do it all over again with Grenfell"

It comes after Shadow Chancellor McDonnell controversially claimed Grenfell victims were “murdered by political decisions” - a statement many Labour MPs do not support. 

The Tory-led council has come in for sharp criticism over how it responded to the fire, which has killed at least 80 people, leading to the resignation of leader Nicholas Paget-Brown. 

Questions are also being asked about flammable cladding which encased the block of flats in North Kensington. 

It emerged after the inferno that the cladding used was the cheaper, more flammable of two options when councillors planned a refurbishment. 

The Government has ordered a string of building inspections across the country to ensure the threat of flammable cladding is removed. 

Theresa May has opened a public inquiry into the blaze and a criminal investigation is under way. 

McCluskey also laid into the council for sitting on £274m of reserves and offering tax rebates to some of the wealthiest residents in the borough. 

“Finally, 20 years on, we have justice for Hillsborough, now we are going to have to do it all over again with Grenfell and Orgreave and other injustices,” he said.  

“We demand that the inquiry into Grenfell is open and broad and genuinely independent. Only then can we trust that light will really shine on what happened in the atrocity of that tower. 

“A Tory council rich with reserves to bribe rich voters, unable, or unwilling, to protect working class people in their homes, incapable of accepting responsibility for the terrible loss of life, inept when it came to organising any relief effort. 

“Kensington council, a Tory council, the UK’s richest, is a symbol for all that is rotten in Tory Britain.”

Elizabeth Campbell, the councillor who replaced Paget-Brown, has previously said she is “truly sorry” for how the authority responded. 

“The first thing I want to do is I want to apologise,” she said. “This is our community and we have failed it when people needed us the most.

“So, no buts, no ifs, no excuses - I am truly sorry.”

She continued: “As new leader, I will appoint a new cabinet tomorrow and things are going to change.

“The first thing I’m going to do is to reach out to our community so we can begin to heal the wounds, and the second thing I am going to do is to phone up Sajid Javid, as Secretary of State (for Communities and Local Government), and ask for more help.

“I don’t know at this stage what that help will be like, what the plan will be, but I know that the thing we need is a plan for the community in North Kensington and that is what I’m going to do.”

Javid has since sent in a taskforce to help manage council services. 

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