Prime Minister Theresa May squirmed uncomfortably as she was belted with questions about Grenfell Tower on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme, where she was speaking about a new report on ethnic inequality.
On Tuesday 3 October, Today host Nick Robinson confronted Theresa May about the government’s failures over Grenfell Tower. This came after she spoke about her report into the treatment of ethnic minorities across UK public services like schools, hospitals and courts.
Can of worms
The report has already received an avalanche of criticism and opened an even bigger can of worms for the PM in the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster.
May said [10:03] the report, which reveals information about inequalities between white people and ethnic minorities in Britain, will make “uncomfortable reading” – but will be tackled [10:31] with “solutions” like “hotspots”.
But then, Robinson put the PM in a hotspot of her own. He said [10:55] plenty of people will also say:
these are small solutions to very big problems and when they hear you saying what makes you angry, and you say its injustice, they’ll say, I’ll tell what makes us angry – it’s Grenfell Tower.
Robinson asked [11:10] if Grenfell, a “symbol of the impact of austerity”, was “staring her in the face”. But May ignored the question with her response [11:20] when she went on to say “too many people have lost their lives”.
Well, I think the key thing in relation… Well, first of all we need to find out exactly what happened in Grenfell Tower. That’s why I set up the public inquiry. I acted very quickly to set up the public inquiry…
Robinson said [12:20] there was a view that, just like May’s ‘racial disparity audit’, Grenfell Tower showed the impact of inequality, deregulation, and cuts to public spending. But again, the PM skirted the issue, speaking about the public inquiry and the role of housing minister Alok Sharma.
Still, Robinson took no prisoners when he compared [14:05] May’s “small solutions” to “big problems” with “the power of Jeremy Corbyn”, who he quoted as saying “there’s something fundamentally wrong with our society”.
Tell us something we don’t know
May’s report has triggered anger from the Grenfell community itself. Yvette Williams from Justice4Grenfell told The Canary.
Why is it still a shock to find these things out? What is she telling us that we don’t already know? We had the Scarman report following the riots of 1981. It looked at the same thing. We’ve had cases like Stephen Lawrence. So when May talks about ‘uncomfortable reading’ – we ask, uncomfortable for whom? For you? You make us feel uncomfortable every single day.
Our local authority buys into state legislation and this gives them impetus to treat our community with contempt. They don’t want our type of community in the richest borough of the city. So the state almost gives official endorsement to mistreat our community through its legislation policy, which then culminates into something like Grenfell.
Grenfell Tower is a literal example of the “burning injustice” of which May spoke when she first launched her review of ethnic inequality across our public services. It will now be the litmus test to show if she really will put her money where her mouth is.
– Read more from The Canary about the Grenfell Tower Fire.
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