We expect a lot from our politicians, whether local or national. This last few weeks they have been tested as never before, with terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower inferno, not to mention the chaos of the parliamentary election results Not surprisingly they have come up short of our very high expectations.
Grenfell Tower is the saddest and most tragic failure since the Aberfan disaster of 51 years ago. Once more institutional failure despite warning. Inertia in local and national government that went unnoticed until disaster struck.
In both the above tragedies the local communities and the rescue services emmerged with great credit. The light of compassion burns bright, but there is hotter fire too.
There is rightful angst that this tragedy could and should have been avoided. Anger is in the air, a whole platform of woes ascribed to this most terrible of events from mis-government, lazy councillors and indifferent council experts and even ineficient fire prevention officers. Don’t forget the greedy manufactureres of dangerous products, and the civil servantts who have shilly shallied since the Southwark fire and the consequent Coroner’s precise warnings.
For those of us who have an inkling of knowledge of fire resistant materials the whole episode is almost beyond belief. They have encased a largely non-flammable concrete building with a low ignition high flame spread cladding that by any standards is irresponsible and so far from common sense as to be astonishing. The technical officer responsible for the use of these materials must have been either untrained or plain stupid. The company that peddled the system must have been aware of the hazards following incidents already well recorded both home and abroad. Yet they all conspired to let this happen!
In the aftermath of this terrible event apert from the local community every other body of any worth has seemed paralysed. Only Queen Elizabeth in her 92nd year seems to have caught the mood and went to her fellow Brits and figuritively speking put out her hands to embrace them.
Theresa May our Prime Minister is having the time of her life, misery apon misery, problem on problem. Her heart must surely be close to breaking along with so many others. Sadly though, the stiff upper lip and marching on, is not the sentiment that we all want. We want to see our leaders share our collective pain. Put down the shield of state and weep with those who have lost so much.
Yes, do things and do them expeditiously, but touch the hands and help dry a tear too. Get homes for the bereft, get councillors for the grieving, get food to the needy – get hope and warmth into the brutally broken community.
We have failed, not just the political elite, all of us. Let’s hold hands and swear once more that these institutional sins of ommission will never, never happen again.