An Inquiry in Name Only

In June last year, after the Grenfell Tower fire, I wrote:

I was just a kid in the 1980s when we had that seemingly endless series of disasters: Piper Alpha, the Herald of Free Enterprise, the King’s Cross fire, the Marchioness, the Clapham Junction rail crash. These were catastrophes of enormous consequence with all the emotional and human aspects of the Grenfell Tower fire, yet we did not see third-world style mobs whipping up anger and making ludicrous demands, nor perpetual adolescents demanding the government be replaced by one headed by a bunch who’d just lost an election. Sensible heads prevailed, inquests were held, genuine lessons were learned, and the rules changed so they didn’t happen again. In those days the adults were in charge.

Yesterday I read this:

Relatives of all 72 victims will be given the chance to commemorate loved ones during the [Grenfell Tower fire] inquiry.

The inquiry will look into all the deaths – including one victim who died in January, having been in hospital since the blaze.

Five others were remembered on the inquiry’s first day, which began with a 72-second silence in memory of those who died.

They include artist Khadija Saye and her mother Mary Mendy, Denis Murphy, Joseph Daniels and Mohamed Neda.

I don’t see anything wrong with taking a few minutes to reflect on the dead at the opening of an inquiry into a disaster such as this. But once those few minutes have passed, the cold, impersonal business of finding out what happened, how it happened, and why should commence free of emotions and political posturing. Is that occurring now? No it’s not, and it looks as though it’s more soap opera than inquiry:

Families are being given as long as they want to tell the inquiry about their loved ones through a mixture of words, pictures and videos.

Survivor accounts are important as they can provide key details such as how fast the fire spread, and what difficulties they faced in evacuating. Also, the correspondence between the residents and housing association will be vital to the inquiry. But talking about loved ones with pictures and videos without limit? Is this an inquiry interested in discerning facts, or a memorial service?

What’s happened is obvious: an entire industry has sprung up around the Grenfell Tower fire with the dual purpose of securing public monies for key individuals and furthering their political aims. They have managed to gatecrash what should be a sober, professional inquiry and turn it into a grieving session after which no doubt they’ll put considerable pressure on investigators to point the finger at their opponents, i.e. the Tories and any company with deep pockets. They’ve been allowed to do this because the political classes no longer have the personal courage to face down a baying mob of chancers and insist on due process being followed.

Given that Sadiq Khan is in charge of London and Theresa May in charge of the whole country, it’s hardly surprising we’re no longer capable of holding an inquiry into a disaster without the whole thing turning into a circus. We really are missing some adults, aren’t we?

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22 thoughts on “An Inquiry in Name Only

  1. It’ll also be a cover-up as to what really happened.

    Yes.

    There’s been no adults governing the country for at least fifteen years.

    That too.

  2. I am clinging to the hope that the intention is to spend a couple of weeks of this nonsense, exhaust the media interest, and then actually get on with something slightly more useful.

    But when I heard the bit about the 72 seconds, I did start to wonder…

  3. But when I heard the bit about the 72 seconds, I did start to wonder…

    It’s a bit kitsch, but it’s only 72 seconds. What’s more worrying is the unlimited time available for posturing.

  4. In answer to the question: We really are missing some adults, aren’t we?

    Yes, in spades – and as our vile novelist pointed out it has been that way for a long time. Where the *uck have they all gone?

    Feelingz triumph. It’s a gender thing. No room for hard, cold facts. That is so yesterday and so masculine it is mysoginist.

    My hope is in people like Peterson, Murray, not sure about Rees-Mogg but he has the beneit of the doubt for now. They talk of responsibility and look at the hard stuff in a clinical way. That’s why the left hat them so much, because obviously they are convincing.

    Was watching the land-whale in her blue uniform the other day and cannot see how anyone can take her infantile posturing seriously. But it is her sort that run the show. Terrible, terrible, terrible!

    It is too sunny here to get depressed, but if it was cold and wet…..

  5. But when I heard the bit about the 72 seconds, I did start to wonder…

    I was half-asleep with last night’s TV still on, softly warbling the morning news.
    I heard it as 72 minutes and was really wondering what sort of enquiry it was going to be. (And did anybody manage to get through more than an hour of silence without fidgeting or playing with their phone?)

    Not sure my first impression was all that wrong though.

  6. “They’ve been allowed to do this because the political classes no longer have the personal courage to face down a baying mob of chancers and insist on due process being followed.”

    Am I wrong to suggest this particular baying mob is turning UK politics in the into much the same as their source countries?

  7. Hear hear. This kind of mawkish sentimentalism has absolutely zero bearing on what happened and why which is the entire purpose of this inquiry.

    Worse, it will very likely serve to undermine the inquiry’s ability to ask equally pressing questions about who exactly was in the building, why, under what tenancy rights and whether any of the occupants had anything at all to do with the fire starting.

  8. The Pedant-General

    “Worse, it will very likely serve to undermine the inquiry’s ability to ask equally pressing questions about who exactly was in the building, why, under what tenancy rights and whether any of the occupants had anything at all to do with the fire starting.”

    That would be victim blaming….and plenty of vested interest are happy to sweep all those questions under the carpet.

  9. The Cullen Report into Piper Alpha and the recommendations that came out of it, plus the style its written in should be the pint of reference for stuff like this. Accessible to a layman in most respects, non prescriptive guidance that has saved countless lives in the years since where it’s been implemented and improved upon.

  10. “These were catastrophes of enormous consequence with all the emotional and human aspects of the Grenfell Tower fire, yet we did not see third-world style mobs whipping up anger and making ludicrous demands…”

    I agree with all that has been said above, but would add that we might expect a third-world mob because most of the victims were from there. This is essentially a third-world tragedy that just happened to take place in London. Expect lamentation, ululation, propitiation, and ju-ju.

    Oh, and claims for compo, of course.

  11. Sam Vera: ’Expect lamentation, ululation, propitiation, and ju-ju. ‘

    The Four Horsemen of the Modern Diverse Apocalypse…

  12. “Worse, it will very likely serve to undermine the inquiry’s ability to ask equally pressing questions about who exactly was in the building, why, under what tenancy rights and whether any of the occupants had anything at all to do with the fire starting.”

    Preventing “divisive” answers will be one of the main purposes.

  13. “Preventing “divisive” answers will be one of the main purposes.”

    Which is, if I may permitted to paraphrase our genial host, exactly the point he’s making above the fold. 🙂

  14. “Families are being given as long as they want to tell the inquiry about their loved ones through a mixture of words, pictures and videos.”

    And dance too, one hopes, because there has to be some entertainment value in there.

  15. With an ounce of dignity they could have set up a charity for the survivors. It would probably have raised more than they are likely to get from the government.

    But after the antics since, such a charity would raise pennies today.

  16. It’ll also be a cover-up as to what really happened.

    The cause of fire was reported as being a fridge which ‘exploded’ in somebody’s kitchen. As I commented at the time, fridges these days are filled with isobutane or pentane – gases which are highly explosive if they leak out and mix with the surrounding air.
    Why these new refrigerants? Because the previously-used and much less flammable gas, R-134a, was judged to have too high a global warming potential.

    This is not the first time there have been incidents like this either.

    I wonder if the enquiry will mention any of this?

  17. It was on in the gum yesterday, fortunately only sub titles. I kept being drawn to it and thinking this has to be the final nail in the coffin of the British stiff upper lip.

    As I said when this idea of the victims’ families not only being given time to talk about it but also be representatives on the inquiry bench was first muted: we want facts not emotions because other people’s lives may be at stake.

  18. I understand the inquiry has already excluded from the scope the fridge that caused the fire. That fridges used to be filled with safe non-toxic and non-flammable HFC, but now must be filled with highly flammable propane or butane, is considered just too embarrassing, cannot let a tower block of bodies get off message with Global Warbling.

  19. When I was young the only silence observed was the two minutes on Remembrance Day, which used to be at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but was moved to the nearest Sunday so as not to inconvenience people. That represented the millions killed in two world wars and some lesser conflicts since. I have no time for other silences and just despise the whole pantomime.

  20. You are all such terrible cynics. I confidently predict the enquiry to find the following:

    No resident did anything wrong and to suggest otherwise is racist.
    Virtue-signalling green nonsense must continue.
    We’re all to blame, but at the same time no-one is.
    Them Tories are evil.

  21. And from today’s news “… Wailing could be heard outside the room. “.

    Sam Vara (above) is a true prophet.

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