Politics and life or death

The head of the Fire Brigade Union at the Labour Conference:

“They say don’t politicise Grenfell Tower, and we’ve not tried to politicise Grenfell Tower. But the truth is that actually when we examine this, and we do that, we’re already doing that, we will find – and any serious inquiry if it is genuine will find – that what led to the situation whereby Grenfell Tower could happen is a whole series of decisions, decisions that go back probably 30 years in reality, that go back over those three and a half decades.

“Decisions that altered the safety regime. Decisions that altered the housing regime. Decisions that altered inspection regimes and enforcement regimes.

“A process of deregulation and supposedly cutting red tape, where the previous Prime Minister David Cameron described health and safety as a ‘monster that should be slain.’ This is the language we’ve had off these people in power.” “And it is political decisions that have created the regime whereby Grenfell Tower, that atrocity, could happen.

“So there is no getting away from the fact that it is a political matter and we shouldn’t be afraid of saying it is a political matter.

Echoing Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s controversial claim that Grenfell victims were “murdered by political decisions”, Mr Wrack said: “They’re decisions and decisions are made by politicians. So by definition they are political decisions.

“To me it is a national political scandal. It is the sort of the scandal on which governments should fall, by the way.”

Mr Wrack said only London’s fire service was big enough to be able to give the level of cover needed to fight the fire.

“Plymouth has tower blocks that failed the tests” for flammable building cladding, he said. “They have night duties when they have 18 firefighters on duty.”

Turning to the inquiry, he added: “If we conclude, and if representatives of the residents and survivors and bereaved conclude, that the whole thing is a pointless stitch-up, then actually we may conclude that we’re going to walk away and boycott that inquiry.

“I hope it doesn’t happen but I think we need to tell the inquiry people that that’s where we stand.”