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The media Inferno.


EVERY TIME I think there is no lower level to which public discourse in this country can descend, along comes something to prove me wrong. The Muslim terrorist atrocities of recent months had already been conducted according to the usual lines to empty them of the festering truths no one in authority seems to want to confront, then along came the towering inferno of utter squalor in the form of Grenfell Tower.

When I first saw pictures of the tower block burning I assumed the death toll would be in the hundreds, whatever safety measures had been put in place and whatever the emergency services did to save people. To date the official toll is 80 people. Given that some people may have been burnt beyond recognition in what remains of the block, that is still a remarkably small number.

As if the fire itself weren’t appalling enough the almost immediate politicisation of it by the media and the politicians was inexcusable. And by politicians I mean exclusively the left. The Conservatives may not have presented themselves as suitably compassionate in public but they have not turned it into a piece of disgusting political theatre in which the dead, the injured and the displaced have been allotted parts as distraught and angry mechanicals demanding “justice” and heads on spikes. Or encouraged extremists to foment mob reactions such as storming Kensington Town Hall. The media have delightedly played along with this, encouraging  displays of aggressive emotionalism both on the street and in the studio (the BBC, reliable as always in sustaining a leftist narrative, exposing a housing minister to a pointless haranguing on the Victoria Derbyshire show).

Each day the left found a new way to sling the mud. First they blamed the fire on cuts and Tory austerity — though the Fire Brigade were there within six minutes and had no problems with resources. Then Sadiq Khan and others complained that the block and its residents had suffered years of neglect by the council, despite the fact that over eight million pounds had recently been spent ill-advisedly on the outside cladding.

Nothing excites the media more than a juicy tragedy, especially if they can identify an obvious scapegoat, so they went along with Labour’s conspicuous compassion propaganda in criticising Theresa May. Apparently she should have turned up in black garb and moved tearfully through the weeping crowds, hugging all and sundry while the smoke was still rising from the tower. Instead she visited the Fire Brigade and residents quietly and in private. That now counts as a political sin, even though two days after the fire she announced a generous financial package to help homeless residents. Anyway, Jeremy stepped up to the plate and appeared in all his fulsome, brow-creasing concern to score a compassion hit (and secure more votes for his party’s constituency MP).

The media have absolutely no idea about this but the complexity of technical information means they can crash around from one expert to another with abandon.

Then came all the brouhaha about the type of cladding and whether it was legal and whether the council had been guilty of cost-cutting (if they’d spent more on it, of course, they would have been accused of being spendthrift). This part of the disaster can go on indefinitely because the rules governing materials and safety procedures will be labyrinthine, no doubt with a large helping of EU and energy regulations in the mix. How long it goes on in public depends to a large extent on how much the media maintain their interest: they have absolutely no idea about this but the complexity of technical information means they can crash around from one expert to another with abandon.

Add to this the race-baiting, which has been non-stop. It was apparent to anyone watching coverage from outside London that the majority of residents seemed to be of immigrant background. It has also become clear that many of the people living there were subletting their flats and that a proportion of them were illegal immigrants – or “undocumented” tenants, as the phrase is. Since Labour is now the immigrants party it is their duty to stand up for everyone who is not British by birth or heritage, even those who are in the country illegally. Step forward Diane Abbott and her demands that the government give survivors and family members “indefinite leave” to remain while things are being sorted out.

The Grenfell tower tragedy has proved to be one of the most fruitful opportunities for propaganda for ages. Not even the “terrorist” attack by a white, white-van-man on a group of Muslims in Finsbury Park managed to dislodge it from the headlines for long. That is saying something given that the establishment are desperate to find actual far-right terrorists to counterbalance the plethora from the religion of peace.

Corbyn’s right-hand hatchet man, John McDonnell, sealed his already soiled reputation as superannuated class warrior by claiming that the Grenfell victims were “murdered by political decisions” (not as many as the millions deliberately killed by the political decisions of his own heroes, mind you). Still, he got to deliver this gem of wisdom at Glastonbury, which looks set to become a regular site of pilgrimage for Labour’s nomenklatura, somewhere they can bond with the nation’s bourgeois revolutionaries in a self-congratulatory aura of trendiness.

There’s still more to this sorry, disgraceful display of political degeneracy, of course. Homeless residents are turning down offers of housing because it’s not to their liking (talk about ingratitude – especially when they were being housed at the state’s expense as it was), which is not proving popular with the rest of the country who, I suspect, are running out of compassion and tolerance. And now that the government is setting up an official enquiry run by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, we hear the ineffably dim MP, David Lammy, saying that a “white, upper-middle class man” shouldn’t be chairing it. Just as no intelligent grown up should even suggest such a thing so  we should assume no intelligent person would entertain it for a picosecond. The state of political squalor is so great, I’m afraid, that I wouldn’t put it past the current Tory administration to be wobbling on this. One thing is certain – we know what to expect from Labour when the next tragedy happens.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.

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