The real mood in society after Grenfell

Below is a report from a Marxist student who attended the demonstration that stormed Kensington and Chelsea town hall last week. It gives an accurate picture of the mood of class fury that there is following the horrific Grenfell fire.

Furious members of the North Kensington community, led by the youth stormed into Kensington & Chelsea town hall this afternoon, their anger rang out through the building, “we want justice”…”Murderers!”. They justly pointed out the unacceptable response from the local council, with the lack of communication, lack of co-ordination and sheer contempt for the victims, but they also called out the failures and intentional neglect by the entire national government. The class divide could not have been more palpable.

After the occupation ended, you could still feel the ferocity of the crowd outside, numbering two to three hundred. As impassioned speeches were delivered, someone yelled out in the crowd, as cameras pointed towards him he asked: “where’s the minute silence for the dead? Why didn’t any politician call for a silence?” The crowd applauded and took his words on board and our minute of silence for the victims began.  However, the anger could not be contained to the steps of the hall and a spontaneous march towards the tower began, the chant of ‘Tories out’ boomed out straight away as it reverberated off the decadent facades of High Street Kensington and the gentrified Notting Hill Gate. The numbers began to swell, as three hundred became over a thousand, slogans with a clear class line, such as ‘luxury flats for the working class’ and ‘the rich, the rich, we gotta get rid of the rich’, were scattered between calls for justice and getting rid of Theresa May. As protestors weaved through the affluent streets, people of many backgrounds were beeping their horns in support, leaning out the window to high five and hug people passing by, some even got out of their vehicles to join. The crowd stopped every so often and demonstrators shouted their demands for justice to the wealthy people in the bars or on their balconies as they gawked, jeered and filmed.

When we all reached the destination, the mood became more sombre in the shadow of the charred remains of the tower. As neighbours hung out their windows and off the communal stairs, speeches began again as many people, one after the other, gave terse class conscious analysis of the situation, making demands for the Tories to go, for council leaders to be arrested, for accurate information on the death toll etc. At the end of one speech, a woman began repeating:  “We work the hardest in this country. It’s ours. It’s ours”.

I spoke with one of the speakers, Micky. He had family in the tower, and fortunately his 6 year old niece was one of those that made it out alive; however he lost others. Even carrying this burden he was resolute and he astutely put it to me that “this was a disaster the local authority couldn’t handle alone, where was the central government? They abandoned us, we would have sent in aid or troops in any other tragedy.”

The ineptitude and deceit could and should be the death throes of Theresa May’s government, let’s work together with the survivors and their community, call out for united working class action until there is justice, and make it the beginning of the end for the entirety of capitalism.

by Dan Langley, KCL Marxists