Johnathan Freeland in the Guardian
Grenfell Tower threatens to stand forever as a warning against four of the defining features of our era. First, deregulation – elevated to an ideal by the free marketeers of Thatcherism and pursued ever since. Protections for consumers or workers or residents have long been recast and despised as “red tape”, choking plucky entrepreneurs. A favourite slogan of the right was the promise of “a bonfire of regulations”. Well, they got their bonfire all right.
Second, and related, is privatisation, an animating ideal for the right since the mid-1980s. Grenfell Tower will surely endure as proof that there are some aspects of our lives that do not belong in the realm of profit.
Third comes austerity, which has depleted the ranks of housing officers and safety inspectors across the country. Hardly an excuse in the Royal Borough, mind you, which is said to have £300m sitting in a contingency fund… The local authority and its arm’s length management company decided to save a grand total of £4,750 by opting for the cheaper and more flammable version of cladding for this tower.
But most obviously, Grenfell Tower is a story of inequality, of the poor herded into a cramped building made unsafe because it was prettified to improve the view of the nearby rich.