POLITICS

Too Soon To Call Grenfell Tower Deaths 'Murder', Says Labour's John Healey

John McDonnell said victims 'murdered by political decisions'.

26/06/2017 11:01 BST
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Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey has said he does not agree with John McDonnell that the deaths in Grenfell Tower were “murder”.

McDonnell told an audience at the Glastonbury festival yesterday that the victims of the fire were “murdered by political decisions” made by politicians over decades.

But speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Healey distanced himself from the shadow chancellor.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘murder’,” he said. “It’s not yet possible to point to direct cause and effect. We don’t know the full details.”

He added: “I think he was giving voice to the very real anger and disbelief that many people have about how the loss of at least 79 lives in Grenfell Tower could ever have happened. So as a west London Labour MP, I think the was capturing some of the concern some of the residents elsewhere also have.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell after addressing the crowd from the stage at LeftField at Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset.

Healey was housing minister under Gordon Brown between 2010 and 2011 and a local government minister between 2007 and 2009.

He told Today that under his watch Labour “brought in new regulations over new buildings”.

“We refurbished and brought up to a decent standard well over million council and housing association homes,” he said.

McDonnell, speaking at the festival’s Left Field tent on Sunday, 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.”

According to the government, some 60 high-rise buildings in 25 local authorities across the country have now failed fire cladding safety tests.

The announcement came after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid revealed all of the buildings that have so far submitted cladding samples have failed combustibility tests.