We have grown up in a world where devastating acts of terrorism are normal. Heartbreaking scenes, death tolls and prayers of fading hope are part of our routine. The awful Manchester, Westminster and Finsbury Park attacks came in a burst one after another in the space of mere weeks. The horrific Grenfell Tower disaster which left the country reeling which was shortly followed by the most recent terrorist attack, when a driver mowed down innocent Muslims who, along with the rest of the nation, were also in mourning of all these terror attacks to hit our country. The outpouring of love and unity in the wake of these crises is beautiful – it shows what Britain truly is. It is with this in mind that I call for action.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy is one that could have been prevented. Don’t politicise a tragedy, is exactly what the politicians who helped cause a tragedy will say. 70 Conservative members who voted against making social housing “hospitable for human habitation” were landlords themselves. The residents of Grenfell Tower complained for years of fire safety concerns, but instead of listening to these or even paying £200,000 for a basic sprinkler system, £10 million was spent installing pretty cladding so those in the rich flats of Kensington wouldn’t have to look at such a disgusting sight.
Yet there is still not an inquest into the causes and quite frankly, criminal decision making that led to this disaster, instead there will be a ‘public inquiry’ – one that will take years and years to complete and is unlikely to result in any meaningful action being taken. Theresa May visited Kensington, but did not speak to any of the victims of the disaster, citing “security concerns”. However, somehow Jeremy Corbyn and even the Queen managed it. The Conservatives at the time of reducing “unneccessary” safety regulations for social housing applauded themselves, with now-chancellor Phillip Hammond in particular, praising his party’s efforts to stop regulations that could have saved so many lives. When questioned by a Labour MP on the extent of the fire cuts the Tories were making, Boris Johnson told his political opponent to “get stuffed”.
Theresa May’s policies in many ways caused the Grenfell Tower disaster, and her record on terrorism and division is abhorrent. She has cut the police force by 20,000, a move so severe the army was required on British streets in the wake of the Manchester attacks. Video footage emerged of Theresa May being warned by an award-winning policeman in Manchester of her excessive cuts, as “policing is critical to dealing with terrorism”. She told a 2015 Police Federation Conference to “stop crying wolf” over police cuts, and accused them of scare-mongering.
Furthermore, May’s relationship with Muslims is not exactly inclusive. In the wake of the Westminster attacks, May talked of the need for “British values”. One is left to wonder what this implies, that Muslims do not share these values? Several religious figures and teachers warned the authorities of Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, a man who had travelled to Libya (an intervention May supported) and back, and still nothing was done about him. With regards to foreign policy, Theresa May really has been the worst PM since Tony Blair. She has consistently supported military intervention, regardless of the consequences, whether it be Iraq, Libya or Syria.
This is not to mention her recent cosying up to Donald Trump, by holding hands and offering him a state visit immediately (we offered Obama a visit 758 days into his presidency). There is not a word of condemnation of his anti-Muslim, racist rhetoric as many other world leaders have done. Instead, there was a failed attempt to appease him, which has not worked, as Trump himself has preferred to push Britain backwards in the queue rather than forwards, instead preferring to negotiate with the likes of Saudi Arabia. As Home Secretary, Theresa May’s ‘Prevent’ strategy reforms in counter-terrorism was widely criticised by the Muslim community, who felt like their entire practice was being spied on. This comes as no surprise from the politician who introduced the snoopers’ charter, and despite not having a majority still seeks sweeping new internet surveillance.
The tragedies of the last few weeks have been truly depressing. Yet amongst the hatred, the division and the unrest, there has also been the warmth, hope and love of humanity. The Grenfell Tower victims were swarmed with anything and everything people could give – the community rushed together in the same spirit. The emotional scenes from the response to Manchester and the following concert were something undeniably special. Would Theresa May’s departure fix the terrorism problem? Of course not, but it would help.
Division, of class, race or nation will never win. Love will. It’s about time all politicians realised that.