Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May have both visited the site of the Grenfell Tower fire. But while May hid from residents and most of the media, Corbyn’s humane response put her to shame. And two images from their visits made the contrast even clearer.
On 15 June, May visited Grenfell Tower. But she allowed no media, and she refused to meet residents. Unsurprisingly, this caused a lot of anger:
Feeling genuinely angry that Theresa May would go to the scene of a disaster like Grenfell and choose not to speak to residents.
— Jonn Elledge (@JonnElledge) June 15, 2017
This afternoon Theresa May is making time to meet with the DUP. She didn't have time for the residents of #GrenfellTower though. Disgusted.
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) June 15, 2017
— Duncan Keeling (@DuncanKeeling) June 15, 2017
And understandably, residents were furious with May:
Distraught woman resident tells Jeremy Corbyn: "Theresa May was here but she didn't speak to any of us. She was s**t."
— Andy Lines (@andylines) June 15, 2017
Corbyn’s response, on the other hand, was genuinely moving. He met residents, hugged them, and listened to them. People pointed out the massive difference with May’s visit:
Even Piers Morgan appeared moved by Corbyn’s visit:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 15, 2017
One resident told Corbyn:
The country needs you… Someone has to be held accountable… We do not want this kicked into the long grass.
I will speak up for you. Because we’ve got to get to the bottom of this. The truth has got to come out. And it will.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 15, 2017
May has also announced there will be a full public inquiry into the fire. This is good. But public inquiries can run on for years. And people need answers and accountability sooner than this.
The answers need to come from the top of May’s government. They need to come from her Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell, who did nothing about a review of fire safety in tower blocks. And they need to come from the landlord, which was repeatedly warned about the situation.
But there are further questions that are unlikely to be covered by any inquiry. About how the Conservatives’ cuts have affected our public services. About the fire stations that have closed. And about the 15% increase in fire-related deaths since cuts to the fire service.
Moreover, people want urgent action. There are 4,000 tower blocks that have had the same building regulations applied to them as Lakanal House – the site of another devastating tower block fire. Things need to change now before another avoidable tragedy occurs.
People are angry. They are not interested in May’s platitudes. They want and need someone to hold those responsible to account. And in hiding from the public once again, May has shown she is not capable of this.
– If you are concerned about anyone from Grenfell Tower, call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197
– Support the Justice for Grenfell protest.
– Donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?