Sunday, 18 June 2017

Nothing is easy just now …

The fearful, heart-stopping image of smoke-shrouded burning tower against the blue summer sky in London; then tragedy, deep emotions, grief, community solidarity, and unbidden acts of kindness.

Then thoughts of social injustice, and justifiable anger, mixed in with huge stress and worry for the people caught up in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Then irresponsible, opportunistic posturing by mainstream politicians (including Jeremy Corbyn and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan).

Plus, what appeared to be an appalling lack of pastoral skill and human dignity from our Prime Minister Theresa May on her first visit to the scene.

Also, a lack of leadership and co-ordination, leading to chaos on the ground – where officials ought to have been providing constant reassurance, guidance, attention and care from the start of this tragedy.

And after all that came a very shouty demo, plus some depressing demonstrations of corporate blandness and ineffective PR training by emergency services spokespeople.

There are big questions to be answered about the tower’s recent cosmetic revamp. Why no sprinklers?  Were the fire alarms adequate? Why only one stairwell in and out? And the exterior cladding?  Did that help spread the inferno?

Of course, now we have a relentless targeting of the besieged Theresa May. She was under so much pressure already, with Brexit negotiations starting and her election gaffes.

A Christian pastor said he saw tears in her eyes when she talked, during a hastily-arranged private meeting at 10 Downing Street, to some of the victims of the fire.

So, were May’s tears those of compassion for people affected by the blaze? Or was she weeping for her own woes, as she faces widespread scorn and hatred among the public and the media, and the prospect of being forced from office by Machiavellian schemers in her government.

Perhaps both …

Nothing is easy in our country just now, but something is certainly wrong when a housing tower for poor and struggling people goes up in flames with such loss of life – and amid such opulence in the wealthiest borough in the mother city of the biggest empire in the history of our world.

I was glad to see the Queen struck the right healing note in her statement in which she drew attention to “a very sombre national mood”.

Referencing the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London as well as the Grenfell Tower fire, she said: “I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.

“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding their lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

Amen to that, Your Majesty. Let’s say it again. Amen.

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