The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared on Robert Peston’s show to discuss the UK government’s response to the Greenfell fire. Peston challenged the Chancellor to explain the slow response to the needs of people who were suddenly put out on the streets by the Greenfeld fire. Hammond threw the local government under the bus stating that the response at that level had not been adequate after first responders did their bit. Peston reframed Hammond’s words as having called the local government “incompetent.” Hammond’s mealy-mouthed reply wandered aimlessly for a while before coming around to say the local response had been inadequate.
Hammond then hearkened back to the Lakanal House fire that occurred in 2009 in trying to share part of the blame with Labour (Labour held No. 10 at the time of that fire) for not responding to the recommendations that had followed its investigation. But the Tories have held power since creating a coalition government with the Lib Dems in 2010 and have held power alone since 2015. The recommendations coming out of the Lakanal House fire weren’t made until 2013. Alongside that, Boris Johnson was mayor of London at the time of the Lakanal House fire through May of 2016 and has been an MP since July of 2016.
This is how it works. Insinuate bunk and then walk away quickly before the lie is revealed,
Hammond also crowed repeatedly about the 5,000,000 pounds that have been made available for emergency expenses for those put out by the fire. The building was estimated to house some 400-600 people so that roughly 8,000 to 13,000 pounds per resident. That’s certainly not chicken scratch, but when the Tories just blew close to 150,000,000 pounds on an ill-considered election that Theresa May repeatedly promised she wouldn’t hold it seems a bit galling to act like the red carpet is being rolled out for survivors–especially in the context of people claiming they’re having trouble accessing those funds and Hammond’s admitting they need a centralized agency to help coordinate such efforts. Further, a quick search of hotels near the building revealed limited options and a low-end price of around 40-50 GBP/night. With clothes to buy and mouths to feed, how many weeks will that initial disbursement last for those who ran out of the building with only the shirt on their backs? Hopefully, there’ll be more help forthcoming, but the Tories’ initial approach of allowing the system to work (or not work) while observing from a distance does not bode well.
Also published on Medium.