Modern Britain on Display

Yesterday evening I did what I rarely do, and that was watch the TV news. I switched it on because I was reading reports on Twitter that a riot was going down in Kensington, egged on by Sky and BBC reporters.

What I saw was illuminating if one wishes to see what modern Britain is like. I don’t mean understand what it is like, just to see what it is like. A protest had been organised against the local council in response to the Grenfell Tower fire by a man with an Egyptian name whose accent suggested he’d lived in London for a while but wasn’t native born. He was surrounded by people waving crudely-printed A4 signs with people’s photos on, presumably those missing or dead. He was speaking in a stuttering, disjointed manner but with plenty of passion into a loudhailer, cheered on by the crowd. It looked very much like the protests you see on TV taking place in Pakistan, the Middle East, or North Africa. Which is about as surprising as British football hooligans looking like British football hooligans even when they’re in Portugal.

The protesters had submitted a list of demands to the council, one of which was that all those effected by the fire be rehoused immediately in the same area. Within 30 minutes – which must be an all-time national record – the local government responded saying they will rehouse everyone and do their utmost to make sure people can stay in the same area. The protesters rejected this, presumably because they have knowledge of an empty tower sitting nearby into which all residents can move immediately.

They then interviewed several people who were complaining about the information regarding the number of dead. The police said they can only confirm each death once they have a dead body – a reasonable argument, one supposes – but warned the number will probably rise. The people interviewed didn’t like this approach and would prefer the police speculate as to how many people might be dead. The leader of the protest said he was upset because the police said six people had been confirmed dead and he’d thought that was the lot. People who had not heard from loved ones since the fire, and were sure they were inside when it happened, blamed the police for keeping them in limbo. To be fair, these individuals were highly distressed and I can’t blame them for lashing out: they get a free pass.

As the evening wore on the protest morphed into one calling for the resignation of Theresa May, seemingly on the grounds that she had won the election last week but Labour had done better than expected and this fire ought to reverse the result. I have no idea how many people protesting were residents of the Grenfell Tower or their relatives with a genuine grievance, and how many were simply hard-left rent-a-mob types who have taken a lead from their cousins in the US and decided to make the country ungovernable.

Browsing Twitter, many people felt an inquiry into the fire is not required because even if the cause is not known the solution is: the Tories must be replaced by Labour in national government. For those who did venture a theory as to the cause, it was a muddle of technically incorrect information regarding sprinklers, cladding, and insulation mixed in with general cluelessness about how installation works are priced, subcontracted, and carried out. The Daily Mail didn’t help things by spouting absolute bollocks on the subject, as usual.

I thought the whole thing was a wonderful illustration of modern Britain, and few came out looking good. Having a bunch of foreigners submitting a list of demands to a local council who, when they respond almost immediately with a reasonable statement, see fit to reject it is indicative of the sort of people who are in that council, and the people who voted them in. They’ve spent so much time, effort, and money in pandering to the feelings of minority groups that they’ve allowed these mobs to develop; this hasn’t just occurred overnight. The irony is that in doing this, the council has neglected more pressing tasks – such as ensuring people are not living in tower blocks shrouded in flammable materials.

You have the police issuing reasonable statements, seemingly bewildered that the mob in front of them jeers and throws things at them. Could it be that the touchy-feely Met police who are quick to throw people in jail for racist Tweets aren’t actually liked or respected by the diverse mobs whose arses they’ve been licking for the past twenty years? Yet only last week I had a bunch of policeman assure me public opinion of them is rising.

Then you have the mob of white, middle class hipsters wandering through London shouting “Tories Out!” Where are their parents? Inviting them around for Sunday dinner and doing their laundry, I expect. They probably think it’s perfectly fine that Toby is out calling for violent revolution against the ruling classes who engineered the house price increase that paid for their son’s “education” in the first place. And he wants a new iPhone for his birthday, but not the shit one with no memory.

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 catastpophes 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.

Is Theresa May in charge now? Hardly. It appears that nobody is, and every time somebody opens their mouths they are already compromised by being complicit in the sort of blithering incompetence and half-arsed dithering that brought this entire situation about in the first place: the unfettered immigration, the pandering to minorities, the emphasis on feelings, the win-at-all-costs politicking, the ludicrous housing and welfare policies, the stuffing of councils and companies with inadequate people who are incapable of doing the job and – most importantly – the voters who put them there, kept them there, and shit their pants at the first sign that anyone, anywhere, wants to do things differently.

I watched the news last night and realised I have no dog in this fight. I have nothing whatsoever in common with any of the people involved, the whole thing might as well be being played out on Mars. I’m not just talking about the people who lost their homes, I’m talking about the protesters, the media, the politicians, the police, the middle class voters, and most of those commenting on social media. I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a witch’s cauldron, looking at some bizarre concoction being prepared and wondering how it’s all going to turn out.

Badly, would be my guess. See if I care.

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36 thoughts on “Modern Britain on Display

  1. “about as surprising as British football hooligans looking like British football hooligans even when they’re in Portugal”: is that any way to speak of Timmy Worstall?

  2. “the sort of blithering incompetence and half-arsed dithering that brought this entire situation about in the first place: the unfettered immigration, the pandering to minorities, the emphasis on feelings, the win-at-all-costs politicking, the ludicrous housing and welfare policies, the stuffing of councils and companies with inadequate people who are incapable of doing the job and – most importantly – the voters who put them there …”

    Well said. Those who are too old or too ill to clear off, or those responsible for those who are too old or too ill: what are they to do?

    Still, it was only a year ago that just enough of the voters showed the backbone required to vote for Brexit.

  3. This is probably the best thing I’ve read on the internet.

    Just wish it had a more upbeat conclusion.

    As an aside- Jeremy came second in the election, and he thinks that means he should run the country. What would he want if he came first?

  4. “I watched the news last night and realised I have no dog in this fight. I have nothing whatsoever in common with any of the people involved, the whole thing might as well be being played out on Mars. “

    +1

    There’s another Day Of Impotent Rage & Looting called for this Wednesday. All the usual suspects will be there.

  5. When I seen the crowd break into the council office I was reminded of the first Brixton riots, they flared up real quick for the wrong reason but as a result of simmering racial tensions, the fire brigade and inept plod. Anyone living in London around then will remember them, thankfully it brought about the end to the sus laws, something that I found very intimidating as a youngster living there. The supply of ganja dried up in London for the first time in living memory. My comparison from then to now, is that obese kids and adults don’t riot. Although from memory all half decent British riots do take place in the summer.

    As for Corbyn I see that Labour won this safe Tory seat by 20 votes, how uncanny. Some Tory was saying that they will all be rehoused in the same location; the cad will now be quite deservedly hung out to dry for such a hollow promise. Calls to requisition the empty posh gaffs, they were even yelling at the majestic Sweaty Betty, how awful.

    Don’t underestimate what the agents provocateur can turn this into.

    But as for you Tim, yes you will be fine in Your Safe European Home………………..

    And whilst I am at it another poignant memory from back in the day…………………

    This town (town) is coming like a ghost town
    Why must the youth fight against themselves?
    Government leaving the youth on the shelf
    This place (town) is coming like a ghost town
    No job to be found in this country
    Can’t go on no more
    The people getting angry

  6. Bardon,you are damned right people are getting angry,but not for the same reasons.

  7. “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. ”

    The first disaster to really have an emotional rather than rational response was probably Hillsborough in 1989. Make of that what you will.

    ” They’ve spent so much time, effort, and money in pandering to the feelings of minority groups that they’ve allowed these mobs to develop; this hasn’t just occurred overnight”

    True, this has been a long, slow process. We all know the story about the frog and the pot of boiling water.

    John Cleese in 2011:

    ” London is no longer an English city”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJheODYpuEI

  8. You’ve basically arrived at the same place Aaron Clarey has; you may find his book Enjoy the Decline entertaining.

  9. I’m an English expat, (and long-time reader of your blog) and this summarises exactly how I feel about the whole thing, watching from afar. Spot on.

  10. Bardon,i have jus read he lyrics,it reads like something Nostradumas would have written, basically gibberish.

  11. A splendid and brilliantly articulated post, Tim. You should have a weekly slot in The Times or elsewhere. Well done.

  12. We had the shopping riots when a gangster got his just deserts back in ? 2013
    Will we have the arson riots in 2017? I hope “community leaders” can calm them down.

  13. Corbyn will surely be the next but one PM. That is a truly terrifying prospect.

    Yes, as another “expat” (why are only Brits “expats” and everyone else “fucking immigrants”?) it’s terrifying watching the old country self-destruct on so many fronts simultaneously. But it’s done it before, and wasn’t so bad.

  14. This really has reminded me that I still have 5 grand sitting in a UK bank account, I really must move it out before it either turns to peseta’s, or gets impounded.

  15. ” But it’s done it before, and wasn’t so bad.”

    Dear God, do you mean we need another Oliver Cromwell?

  16. I had to go look at Aaron Clarey … It’s not a stretch to map his worthless degrees piece onto the agitators, the authorities and the PPE politicians were all marveling at.

    What is notable about the present circumstances is the now obvious divergence between reality and reporting in the legacy media. It looks to this observer like initial signs of panic are setting in and the impulse to silence informed dissent is being indulged – FaceBook and Twitter have been restricting and filtering at the behest of authorities in some countries -the BBC’s latest news video editing seems to take its cues from 1980s and 1990s satirical comedy TV.

    It is indeed all a very bizarre concoction that’s being brewed up and I’m not convinced that anybody involved has thought very much about the ingredients – which imho goes full loop into worthless degrees…..

  17. I am greatly impressed, based on recent TV coverage, at how almost no white Londoners appear to need council housing.

    That is quite a change in 30 years

    An uncelebrated success, it would appear

  18. “I am greatly impressed, based on recent TV coverage, at how almost no white Londoners appear to need council housing.”

    Can you say ethnic cleansing in polite society?

  19. Just found your blog after being pointed here from “biased BBC”
    Brilliant and 100% correct.
    Just left London after 14 years of dealing with the dross of that s@#t hole. Not missing it one bit.

  20. “Corbyn will surely be the next but one PM. That is a truly terrifying prospect.”

    Never fear, Corbyn, his Manifesto, his movement may well continue to build solidarity between the haves and the have nots, the young and the old, the black and the white, whilst further organising the fight against privatisation and support for the struggling workers but his call to arms of sorts while seductive will as it always has never get past electoral politics or the front door of Downing St. The British Labour Party are very much a compliant part of the capitalist British State and always have been since their foundation, socialism can only be progressed through Downing Street for this party.

    For the current movement to bring about the transformation that you fear they would need to move way beyond the political norms and the customs of political leadership in the UK. In reality once elected Corbyn’s Manifesto will be shown to be inconsistent with Labour Party policy and anyone wide of this party-political mark will be thrown under the bus just as they have always been and everything will remain the same for the capitalist system at home and away with continued calls for regime change in Syria and Iran. The one thing that may come quicker under Corbyn will be a more Putin aligned UN Security Council vote and the eventual official transfer of what’s left of Great Britain’s sovereignty to the UN since we are all going to get a one world government whether we like it or not, so once again there is nothing to fear in this man and his movement.

    To think otherwise of Corbyn’s Manifesto is just wishful thinking or worse outright deception.

    “This is a once in a lifetime moment, wherein mobilisation and activism could fundamentally change the whole direction of the country, giving a socialist inflection and shape to popular discontents and aspirations. The Left has nothing better, or more important, to do than make this happen.”

    http://novaramedia.com/2017/06/11/where-we-go-from-here/

  21. I accidentally listened to BBC Radio 5 on Friday morning. When I switched it on, some woman was complaining about ‘old, white men’. It turned out she was on some parish council in W London which used to be full of ‘hundreds of old white men’ and was now run by a diverse group of 12 people or so, including her.

    The other person being interviewed, who hardly got a word in, sounded like an old white man.

    So, the interviewer reasonably asked this lady what it was she wanted. This turned out to be ‘a revolution’ with Mr Corbyn in charge to be a ‘strong leader’.

    It may surprise you to know that actual solutions or suggestions had she none.

    At the end, she was again asked what needed to be done. She said:

    ‘We need change’ – short pause – ‘we need stability’.

    Are people getting any actual education these days?

  22. David Moore: “I really must move it out before it either turns to peseta’s, ”

    Too late.

    David Moore: ” at how almost no white Londoners appear to need council housing.”

    The white folk are homeless. Not only don’t they get ‘social’ accommodation, the Media ( viz BBC ) don’t care about them either.

  23. “For those who did venture a theory as to the cause, it was a muddle of technically incorrect information regarding sprinklers, cladding, and insulation mixed in with general cluelessness about how installation works are priced, subcontracted, and carried out. The Daily Mail didn’t help things by spouting absolute bollocks on the subject, as usual.”

    This is a subject where we’re all having to learn pretty quickly.

    I thought it was pretty obvious that plastic was a crazy thing to use in this sort of place- yet this sort of thing has happened, to my recollection, 3x in the UAE, once in Australia, once in Germany and once in France in the last 3 years or so.

    I’m thinking that’s what is obviously crazy to the layman must make some sort of sense to the professionals, and so there must be a gap in my layman’s knowledge.

    The fact that it happens in the UAE, with squillions of dollars available, suggests that it’s not to do with money.

    Tim, could you perhaps expand on what you wrote above? or maybe recommend some links?

  24. “Tim, could you perhaps expand on what you wrote above? or maybe recommend some links?”

    I can give you some clues. All materials are a matter of compromises, especially when they serve two functions.

    Insulated cladding has to be both weather resistant and insulating. Plastic insulation materials are going to be much more weather resistant than the less fire prone ones (say, mineral wool). The additional cost of using the more fire resistant materials is almost certainly a very large additional cost to make it suitably weather proof. On top of that is the fact it is a retro-fit, that always introduces very costly complications. Just introducing that gap between the cladding and the building is a significant fire risk regardless of the materials used.

    We use a lot of PIR ( Polyisocyanurate) panel in construction, because it is the best compromise product.

  25. The fact that it happens in the UAE, with squillions of dollars available, suggests that it’s not to do with money.

    Ooh no, don’t make that mistake: just because the Arabs have lots of money don’t think they are willing to spend it on quality and non-cosmetic improvements. Those lot are all about the bling-bling, if it can’t be seen and shown off, forget it. That’s why you see them driving £180k cars yet they’re too tight to pay for a hands-free kit. It’s why they built “luxury” villas by the thousand but won’t put a roof over the security guard, who must sit in the sun.

    Tim, could you perhaps expand on what you wrote above? or maybe recommend some links?

    David Moore’s got it: everything is a compromise. I don’t have expertise in building cladding, but one thing is certain: there was not a choice between flammable cladding and non-flammable cladding with a small cost difference and the builders went with the former in order to make more profit. The decision to use one over the other would have been a combination of cost (non-negligible), building regulations, industry practice, availability of materials, ease of installation, suitability for local weather conditions, and several other factors. As David says, using fireproofed cladding may have required more stringent weatherproofing (which would be the case with mineral wool) and that might be much more difficult and expensive to do in wet London. And also as David says, retrofitting is always difficult.

  26. A splendid and brilliantly articulated post, Tim. You should have a weekly slot in The Times or elsewhere. Well done.

    Thank you!

    *Forwards comment to Rupert Murdoch*

  27. I’m an English expat, (and long-time reader of your blog) and this summarises exactly how I feel about the whole thing, watching from afar. Spot on.

    Thanks!

  28. I accidentally listened to BBC Radio 5 on Friday morning. When I switched it on, some woman was complaining about ‘old, white men’. It turned out she was on some parish council in W London which used to be full of ‘hundreds of old white men’ and was now run by a diverse group of 12 people or so, including her.

    I just saw a video of a Muslim woman in a headscarf adopting all the sassy hand gestures and mannerisms of the ghetto blacks in the US and saying the tower fire is revenge on Muslims for London Bridge and Manchester. Good to see all that money spent on building bridges with communities is producing impressive results.

  29. You’ve basically arrived at the same place Aaron Clarey has; you may find his book Enjoy the Decline entertaining.,

    I’ll look at that, thanks!

  30. Well said. Those who are too old or too ill to clear off, or those responsible for those who are too old or too ill: what are they to do?

    Somebody produced the generation of idiots who voted in Blair!

  31. Yes, it was a good all round article and comments there dearieme, I think there is a bit more to come out on the sequence of events, ignitions, fuel sources and other material facts surrounding this incident. I have been in some pretty hazardous situations over the years and always do my own risk assessment by habit, staying inside as it went up, is probably not something I would have done. I guess that is an easy thing to say for anyone not inside at that moment, as those that did and perished were following procedure, and as you said the old, the sick, the non-English speaking it’s a pretty horrific thing that has happened here and is not something that you would expect to happen in London.

    On the points of high rise, we can’t forget that post war streets in the sky were viewed by all sides of politics and tenants as a very real solution and far better than the very real slum housing that existed before them. We knew by the early seventies and certainly with the US experience that it was a mistake, the US had started to pull them down before this tower was started.

    My nephew went around to look at the area, he said that it was very quiet and nothing like what we have been seeing on the media. There are some small corners of protest and yes, it is political and opportunist and obviously pro-Labour but I don’t think we have too much to be concerned about as I said before. Tim, I have a post above with a hyperlink awaiting moderation that is probably stuck in your spam.

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