RBKC council meeting 25/10/17 - Justice for Grenfell!

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On Wednesday 25 October, comrades from the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) joined members of Class War and opponents of the proposed merger of Notting Hill Housing and Genesis to protest outside the meeting of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) council at the Town Hall in Kensington. Despite the gravity of the situation, the meeting had a low attendance, as did the demonstrations outside. The continued neglect and contempt for the needs of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire by the council demands strong opposition, which makes the lack of political organisation by left-wing groups and activists particularly striking.  

This is partly due to the demoralising nature of the council meetings themselves, which have been consistent in providing little by way of answers to concerns and demands made by residents. At this latest meeting, councillors Rock-Fielding Mellon and Nicholas Paget-Brown, who bear responsibility for the fire, didn’t even bother to attend, despite continuing to collect exorbitant salaries. Residents in attendance noted the lack of publicity given to locals about the scheduling of the meetings, and that little notice is given to them about their having a right to speak at them. Many argued that this is part of a deliberate plan to limit the community’s ability to confront the council as it continues to shirk its responsibilities to those who have lost everything. To add further insult, attendees are forced to navigate barricades at the entrance to the town hall, and are subjected to full body searches, under the watch of a large number of security guards and police officers.

Over four months on from the fire, the vast majority of survivors made homeless are yet to be rehoused, no criminal charges have been laid against those responsible, no commitment to provide social housing has been made, and there has been no progress made in the hopelessly limited Public Inquiry. As residents left the meeting, several made use of the RCG open microphone to share how the meeting had been a waste of time, and how the council continues to fail the people it claims to represent at every turn.

One might think that the Labour Party would be capitalising on the chance to score points against the Conservatives and their inability to provide any meaningful answers or support in the wake of such a crisis, but to do so would be to engage in rank hypocrisy, in light of the fact that Labour councils all over Britain are equally guilty of sell-offs, demolitions, and social cleansing. Those who demand social housing for all must not wait for cues to be delivered by the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn, as they may find themselves waiting a lifetime. The struggle for justice for Grenfell is the struggle of all those fighting for safe, decent social housing for all, and it is imperative that those who are committed to the winning of this work to put political pressure on the RBKC council, and all opponents of building and providing social housing. What is necessary is a resolute, mass militant campaign, led by the working class, in order to apply political pressure and achieve radical change.

Whilst there are concerns that public attention towards Grenfell is fading, the silent marches, held on the fourteenth of every month to commemorate the fire, continue to build in numbers. These marches are a chance for those standing in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the fire to come together, pay respects to those who perished, and promise to campaign for justice. Though the ruling class uses many tactics to divert attention away from its crimes against the working class, Grenfell Tower is too large a crime to ignore. It must be a wake-up call to all those fighting for a world that is run for people, not profit.

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