Two years after Grenfell, firefighters say “Never Again!”

A demonstrator hugs a firefighter at a Grenfell vigil
A demonstrator hugs a firefighter at a Grenfell vigil. Credit: Steve Eason

By Rob Schofield

Today marks two years since the Grenfell Tower disaster, where 72 people lost their lives in the early hours of 14th June 2017.

The class nature of society is often obscured by the press, bourgeois politicians and government institutions who seek to divert attention away from class conflict.

When the flames spread up Grenfell Tower it caused worldwide shock and upheaval because it was a pure physical manifestation of the inequalities of class society which are woven through the fabric of life under capitalism.

No matter how the press has tried to obfuscate the facts of the disaster by blaming the firefighters (Channel 4) or one of the residents (Daily Mail), they couldn’t hide the truth.

When the 2008 economic crash happened, so much of it took place on digital stock markets and corporate balance sheets before erupting into foreclosures, layoffs and austerity. The causes seemed intangible and immaterial, making it easier for the ruling class to blame it on benefit claimants, on nurses wages and on migrants.

But when faced with a burned out council block, clad with inadequate materials and filled with the remains of people treated as expendable, most reasonable people realised that the cause of this tragedy was a deeper, structural inequality.

Today there still stands a 220 foot-high tombstone, towering over one of the wealthiest boroughs in one of the richest cities on earth, a bleak and imposing reminder that our brutal and unjust economic system favours profit over human lives.

The flammable aluminium composite used to clad the tower was chosen because it was £2 cheaper per square metre than a fire-resistant alternative. Nearly two years on, the same cladding covers a total of 434 residential buildings. 

Today, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has launched its “Grenfell: Never Again” campaign. We echo the FBU’s demands:

  • Flammable cladding to be removed from all tower blocks and public buildings
  • Strengthen tenants’ rights, with democratically elected tenant representatives given control of building upkeep
  • Sprinklers to be retrofitted in high rises and schools
  • Cuts to fire services to be fully reversed

Red tape saves lives. The ruling class and the housing companies have continued to strip away our safety in order to line their own pockets. They have learned nothing from the catastrophic loss of life 2 years ago and they don’t care.

To achieve true change we need a socialist government to completely overhaul the housing system in this country. A mass house-building programme and the replacement or refurbishment of unsafe housing to the highest possible standards.

Only a society that achieves this and puts housing in the control of the masses, not the money-makers can prevent another Grenfell tragedy.


Red Flag is a socialist organisation campaigning within Labour for a democratically planned and owned economy. We campaign for grassroots democracy in the labour movement, militant defence of the oppressed and an anticapitalist programme for the Labour Party. Against Brexit, for free movement. Anticapitalist and internationalist.

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