One year on... The tale of the have and the have-nots.
As long as the rich and poor are still living side by side, the tale of the have and the have-nots must be told.
How power operates and is devolved in modern Britain; a proud mirage of great patriarchy, constructed upon what victims of social injustice have deemed a plethora of systematic errors and absolute contempt, proves that we tinker with rules at our peril.
What comes to mind when people think of Great Britain? Usually Parliament Square in Westminster, the Queen and her Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and the many other great examples of architecture found in the inner most parts of London. It is safe to say that no one thinks of derelict council houses and estates, such as the Grenfell Tower.
Over the last 100 years, Britain has become more modern, more powerful and more economically viable amongst the Great Powers. It is often marketed to the rest of the world on how the best are treated, and praised for the many obvious fictitiousness continuities of its premises. In 2010, the Conservative government came into power, swore that we are all one big society and irrationally took us through a great recession. Almost a decade later, Nurses will see their pay ‘cut by 12%’ because of a government-imposed wage restraint that is now exacerbating chronic understaffing, whilst the Queen is in line for a £2.8m pay rise. The paucity of housing still concentrates on the stock-brick-castellated ideal, and has incubated a social housing crisis in the UK.
The response the Prime Minister gave to a Nurse on the BBC’s Question Time Leaders special.
Theresa May to a nurse who hasn't had a pay rise in 8yrs: "there's no magic money tree"— Fiona Rutherford (@Fi_Rutherford) June 26, 2017
May to DUP: Here's £1.5 billion so I can keep my job
It will be four weeks since Grenfell Tower became the smouldering shell and monument for the worst kinds of barbarism in today’s Britain. Many have lost their homes, and their families. Others have been left traumatised and angry being forced to get their identity back. Contempt doesn’t belong solely to one neighbourhood or political party, it belongs to a people. This is not just about the of Grenfell Tower anymore, the operation of power in modern Britain has left-handed us with many symptoms of an erratic system; social media, the UK housing crisis, poverty, and classism, just to name few. Could these social injustices be a tail for great controversy, or has this already occurred?
The Union Jack Flag flying high on Portobello Road. (Photograph: Yolanthe Fawehinmi)
How power operates in Great Britain.
The Grenfell Tower blaze seems to have brought the UK government under subjection, and great scrutiny. After being horrendously defamed, Theresa May admitted that support for victims of Grenfell ‘was not good enough’ after the Metropolitan Police announced that the death toll from the disaster in West London had risen.
The infrastructure of British culture has enabled democracy to be “managed” by a few, for the few. In this respect, it could be seen as a firewall that insulates the government from the wider population. Could this be why manifestos and legislations only sound good in principle? For instance, when former Chancellor, George Osborne suggested that minimum wage should rise to £7.00 so workers could ‘enjoy the fruits’ of the economic recovery, he was surprisingly provoked with immediate backlash from business groups.
In modern Britain, the operation of power is characterised by institutions and ideas that legitimise, govern and protect its concentration of wealth and power. In terms of politics and judicial influence, our power is limited to voting. Will more power ever be redistributed throughout the electorate?
“We’ve had nearly a century of universal suffrage now, and what happens is capital finds ways to protect itself from, you know, the voters.” ― Paul Staines, Right Blogger and Columnist.
Grenfell Tower has unveiled what Henry Fairlie would call ‘the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised.’ He was a Journalist who popularised the term ‘the establishment’ in the 1950s before Owen Jones described it as the disparate and pejorative power groups that seek to protect their position in a democracy.
The operation of power in Great Britain can also be gauged through the devolution of responsibility. From Parliament, power is distributed amongst local councils and local government bodies to administer the transport system in Greater London, for example. The allocation of power often presents the UK government with an ultimatum. To pin the blame on local councils, such as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for the fire at Grenfell Tower is a prime example of this.
Would the operation of power flourish if the government became centralised in nature? If power came from one place, yes, money would be saved, however, more importantly, it would increase the occasions where the British government are held to an account. It less about how the system is structured, and more about who is in control of the system.
A recent Twitter poll displaying where social injustice is most displayed in Great Britain.
Where is social injustice most displayed?— Yolanthe Fawehinmi (@yolanthe_f) July 13, 2017
Wherever social injustice thrives is an indication of where the operation of power has perhaps, failed. The recent Twitter poll reveals that 54% of British people have identified poverty as the primary area of social injustice in Great Britain, in comparison to the 23% who deemed the UK Housing Crisis or Classism were the primary area’s often overlooked and mishandled by those in power. Grenfell has become not just a voice, but an avid echo for the UK government. It has cast the first stone, and shed light on the areas of social injustices through seeing communities pull together, demonstrations and inquest.
The ugly side of the housing boom.
A bold statement made by local residents living on Latimer Road. (Photograph: Yolanthe Fawehinmi)
The Grenfell Tower tragedy has shown that our social housing system has failed UK citizens. Have we lost our housing rights? Kensington and Chelsea have had the worst record for housing 1,668 locals who were homeless, or were in need of short-term accommodation, before the fire.
They are the joint highest in England, alongside a nearby the London borough council of Newham. After the disaster, many were given homes on the outskirts of London against their wishes.
“Under the disguise of democracy, we are still living under a feudal system.” ― Nat Nye, Lyrical Alchemist.
What is left of the Grenfell Tower. (Photograph: Yolanthe Fawehinmi)
The UK social housing crisis has involved vast cost-cutting and reckless decision making with little consideration of who will be held responsible, and how it will affect local residents. Shelter, a housing charity who worked with British Gas for the #TweetForShelter campaign, stated that 250,000 are now homeless in England, or lack a permanent place to live.
Grenfell is not the only place that people were unfit to live in. This kind of fire could have happened on any rain screen cladding built council blocks around the country, also “proven” to not be fire safe.
Looking beyond Grenfell, and across the UK many others are also suffering the effects of the housing crisis. On the other side of London from Grenfell, in the north-eastern borough of Haringey, a large and growing housing challenge also exists. The demand for homes will continue to grow, whilst the housing becomes incredibly unaffordable for locals. For Haringey Council to meet this demand, more government funding is required.
This crisis has never been focused purely on supply and demand. It also shifts focus to legal tenure, the erosion of housing rights, the decimation of legal aid, the mass sell-off of social housing, and the growing callousness in attitudes towards vulnerable people; contempt. The quality of existing homes is often not good enough. As a result, inequalities are reinforced by the different kinds of housing distributed across the borough.
If lives are not valued in the same way, how will Grenfell be the last of its kind? The operation of power in Great Britain seems to be based on living standards.
The MOBO award-winning musician and writer Akala and local resident Joe Delaney respond to the fire at Grenfell Tower.
We see poverty every day, but do we know who poverty looks like? Poverty is the London ignored. Grenfell has proved that there is no north or south divide. The gap is between the rich and the poor; a divided nation, so we are told. Looking even closer, it’s a borough. The fire can no longer be deemed an isolated tragedy.
Policies that fail to protect the disadvantaged lead to ill-health, stress and reduced life expectancy; poverty in the Great Britain has destroyed many lives and will continue to do so.
“Power is intangible.” ― Olasemo Abiola, Sociologist.
Data shows how the tower’s residents were surrounded by inequality, with marked differences in their income, employment and life expectancy when compared to those living just metres away.
The Grenfell Tower fire has successfully unveiled the operation of power in Great Britain. Power has become intangible in modern Britain because of its devolution and silence. We live in a judicial system with no true representation of integrity or power.🔷
(This piece was originally published on The Blog!)