Towards the end of a long interview with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday 16 July (BBC One), he was yet again asked to take back his statement that people at Grenfell Tower were “murdered by political decisions”. The corporate media was so used to getting away with labelling social murder as an accident that it went spare when John said that politicians had to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies, even when they end in death. In his reply, McDonnell quietly told another explosive truth:
AM: One more thing I must ask you about. Do you regret saying that the people who died in Grenfell Tower were killed by political murder?
JM: No I don’t regret that. I was extremely angry with what went on, and I’m a west London MP, this site is not far from me. Political decisions were made which resulted in the deaths of these people. That’s a scandal.
AM: But murder means a specific thing. Murder means a volition to actually kill another human being, intentional killing.
JM: Well there’s a long history in this country of the concept of social murder, where decisions are made with no regard to the consequences of that. And as a result of that, people have suffered, that’s what’s happened here, and I’m angry about it.
AM: So you regard it as murder?
JM: I believe that social murder has occurred in this instance and I believe that people should be held accountable for that.
AM: And so who are the murderers?
JM: I think there has been a consequence of political decisions over years that have not addressed the housing crisis that we’ve had, that have cut back on local government so proper inspections have not been made, cut back 11,000 fire fighters – jobs been cut as well – even the investment in aerial ladders and things like that in our country.
AM: So the politicians who sanctioned the cuts are murderers?
JM: I believe the politicians have to be held to account, I remain angry at how many people have lost their lives as a result of political decisions that have been made over years.
AM: To be absolutely clear these decisions happened under Labour and Tory governments over the years.
JM: I set up the Fire Brigades Union Parliamentary Group. Way back in 2004 I raised the issue of sprinklers – all through this last seven years in particular, I’ve been going along [to] ministers on behalf of the FBU to say stop cutting fire fighters’ jobs, stop undermining national standards. No one was listening at that point in time.
AM: Very very strong word to use, but murderers is how you still regard the politicians who took those decisions?
JM: I do not revile from what I said – and I remain, I remain angry at the loss of life that’s taken place not far away from my constituency.
AM: John McDonnell, thankyou very much for talking to us.
John broke new ground when he said that in 2004 he “raised the issue of sprinklers …” with the government then (which was Labour till 2010 and then the Tories). They were none of them interested. In other words, both the Blair and Tory governments share the responsibility for social murder in Grenfell Tower.
Many of us have waited for what seemed a long time for the socialist Labour leadership we voted for to draw a line under New Labour, disowning their crimes from the Iraq war to PFI. Yes, John, thanks for drawing the line. Now the Blairight MPs will know that we can call them on their bloody past.