POLITICS

Tory-Voting Northerners Think Grenfell Fire Was Simply An 'Unfortunate Accident'

Hope Not Hate poll lays bare divided Britain.

30/08/2017 00:01 BST | Updated 30/08/2017 11:29 BST

Northerners who vote Tory or UKIP view the Grenfell Tower fire as nothing more than an “unfortunate accident”, a super-poll found. 

The Hope Not Hate (HNH) study, which surveyed 4,000 people across England, paints a picture of a country deeply divided over the disaster. 

Most London BME (black and minority ethnic) voters and Labour supporters (58%) saw the tragedy as a sure sign of inequality, while northern Tory voters (59%) think the fire was an “isolated” incident and politicians should not use it to make a wider point. 

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There is space for Nigel Farage to set up a new populist right political party, the poll found, with 15% of people identifying with him as the leader closest to their views. 

The Conservative-led Kensington and Chelsea council has been widely criticised for choosing a cheaper, more flammable cladding for the refurbishment of the tower.

The decision saved the local authority £293,000 on a £8.6m project, but the cladding allowed the June 14 fire, which went on to claim the lives of at least 80 people, to spread rapidly. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the lethal blaze sent a “terrible message” about social inequality in the UK. 

The report for HNH, which explores the rise in hate crime, Brexit and the wider political mood in 2017, reads: “Attitudes to the Grenfell Tower disaster have deeply divided the country.

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“Londoners, Labour voters and BAME draw a wider lesson about Britain’s unequal society where the poor lose out, whilst those outside London, Conservatives and Nigel Farage supporters view it as an isolated unfortunate accident.”

The poll also found fewer people identify with being English than they did in 2011. Very few BAME identify themselves as English.

A staggering 54% of 18-24 year olds feel represented by Jeremy Corbyn, compared to just 18% of over-65s, who were most likely to identify with Theresa May (42%).

There is also space for Nigel Farage to set up a new populist right political party, the poll found, with 15% of people identifying with him as the leader closest to their own views. 

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives address an anti-austerity rally in Parliament 

Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, said: “The report gives cause for celebration, and concern. It suggests Britain is more open, more tolerant and more divided.

“In particular the increase in Islamophobia amongst older people is worrying but the increasing recognition that immigration is good for the country is a real positive.

“It’s clear that Labour has inspired people who want to change our country for the better and who see Grenfell as symptomatic of the failure of the deregulation happy Tory Government. Young people want change, and they see Jeremy as the party leader who can deliver it.”

The results of the EU referendum had a divisive impact on how people see the future, the poll also revealed.

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Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah

Brexit divides British society into two very distinct groups and there is little prospect that a deal to quit the EU can be secured without angering and further alienating one or both.

Generational splits are clear: over-65s are optimistic about Brexit, with 77% believing we can thrive outside the single market, while only 28% of under-25s agree. There is also very little appetite for reversing the referendum result. 

The report reads: “The liberal tribes – likely to vote Remain – have become more fearful. The more hostile groups – likely to have voted Leave – have become more optimistic.”