Recent news that a third of public buildings and flats checked by Berkshire fire services failed to meet fire safety standards have further highlighted the callous attitude of senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg who stated the victims of the Grenfell fire lacked “common sense.”
Berkshire’s firefighting service carried out 1,137 audits of properties in 2018-19 with 36% being labelled “unsatisfactory.” Shockingly, over 400 other tower blocks across England have been found to have similar combustible cladding to that of Grenfell Tower.
Many campaigners have pointed to cuts in budgets for fire-fighting services, a relaxation in building safety regulations and an under-funded inspection regime for shoddy at-risk buildings. Amazingly, it has emerged that the company that oversaw the disastrous refurbishment of Grenfell has been placed on an official list of companies recommended seeking contracts for high-rise housing in the south of England.
To add further insult to Rees-Mogg’s comments Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, told BBC radio: “We want very clever people running the country, don’t we Evan? That’s a byproduct of what Jacob is and that’s why he is in a position of authority.”
Tories like Rees-Mogg have little experience of life in the poverty-hit world they have helped to create. Nevertheless, even comments like these do not guarantee they will be run out of office. Ensuring that Labour’s promise to build a safer, fairer and socially just society is heard relies on supporters sharing that message as widely as they can.