From top: Grenfell Tower in West London; Dan Boyle
A political argument has already been lost, when a protagonist states that an issue shouldn’t be ‘politicised’. To politicise an issue is to cause embarrassment, even to evoke shame.
There are times, however, when shame, guilt, and responsibility, not only need to be evoked, but also constantly need to be put before those whose actions (often lack of action) have created crisis and havoc.
Those who have died so needlessly at Grenfall Tower in West London, those who will endure such horrible injuries, and those who have lost family and other loved ones, have to be seen as more than victims. Collectively they are human sacrifice on the altar of political expediency.
The Conservative Party controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council sees public services as a distraction, from its real business of business itself. A more ugly exponent of the mantra of New Public Management, would be difficult to find.
Spend less. Tax less. Where possible commodify. When necessary avoid activity that promotes a common good. Insist, whenever possible, on the necessity of individual responsibility. Create new structures, and with such structures put in place new bodies, to which responsibility without power can be ascribed.
This council treats its residents like shareholders. Householders are supplied with a statement of account, which in the most recent year saw the council making a ‘profit’, rewarding each householder with £100 cash back.
The implication of this reward is that at all publicly provided needs were met. Of course they haven’t been. The ability of residents being bribed with their own money has been bought at the expense, of the use of cheap materials, and with many deep cuts to basics services.
These are cuts made with callous indifference, knowing that those most affected – the poor, the unemployed, ethnic minorities – provide little shareholder capital for a Tory council in the richest borough in Britain.
Irish local authorities have tended to ape policy changes in the UK. While Irish councils are structured differently, and carry significantly less powers, than their UK counterparts, worrying signs of these attitudes have begun to be seen.
If any kind of hope can be gained from such an awful event, it should be to act as a wake up call to stop travelling down this road, or to think it a route ever worth taking.We can only pray that those who have argued that a Michael O’Leary business model, best provides for Irish social services, will now shut the feck up.
The metrics for good performance in Irish local government should be in the meeting of needs as they exist. It should be in acquiring, and never apologising for acquiring, the resources necessary to meet such needs.
Those with least require most. Meeting such needs should be the prime purpose of local government. To demean such needs, while virtually criminalising those who require services, will only bring us events like the London conflagration.
Never again with never again.