By Bella Robinson – Contributor
Having copied and pasted the lecture slides onto my notes, telling myself I’d read them later, my housemate insisted we were definitely not going to go to the petrol station for wine and ending up in Kuda. So, we turned on prime time ITV. Harry Styles dressed as a Quentin Blake illustration and Lizzo in a wicket basket could have been the highlights of an otherwise mundane evening in. Until Dave rocked up. 21 years old and he has the confidence to play and rap at the same time, proving that some men can in fact multitask, but that he is confident enough to make a political statement to over 2 million viewers. Adding an additional verse to his song ‘Black’; “It is racist, whether or not it feels racist, the truth is our prime minister’s a real racist / They say – ‘you should be grateful, we’re the least racist’ / I say the least racist is still racist.”
Priti Patel had to make a statement saying that Boris Johnson is “absolutely not a racist” which,in my opinion, might as well have been followed up with “he likes A$ap Rocky”, because it is about as believable as her “private holiday” in Israel. Stormzy asked in 2018, during his performance at the Brits ‘Yo, Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell?’ 2 years later we still don’t have an answer. 3 years after 72 people’s lives were taken by austerity and neglect, they have been disrespected by a man who was promoted to “Right Honourable” and leader of the House of Commons. As Dave reminded us on Tuesday night “Grenfell victims still need accommodation”. Priti Patel was right when she said: “Artists and entertainers say all sorts of things”. They say things that we as a country need to hear, need to be reminded of and need to be addressed (the good ones do anyway). So, in a time of ‘taking one for the team’, public expenditure wise, where is the money for the Grenfell victims? or more to the point, where has the money gone?
The initial reaction from the government was to pledge £58.9 million to the victims of which only £30 million has been spent. As of June 2018, 120 families are still waiting for permanent accommodation. To put this into perspective, £9 billion pounds has gone on environmental mitigation working out where the bats will sleep after HS2 has been built. I have nothing against bats personally, although I’m not sure if they had spent years reporting unsafe habitats to the bat council asking for safer housing. It seems as though rehousing is only a priority when it serves a purpose for something the government actually care about. In this instance, a fast connection from London to the north, that our grandchildren can potentially enjoy in 2050. £150 million has been spent on French ports in the last 3 years for extra security against the refugees. This type of security goes towards pepper-spraying refugees and burning their tents and sleeping bags. £23 million was claimed in the House of Lords last year on ‘necessary expenditures’ alone, which in combination with daily allowances, meant that the House of Lords cost £527.1 million in 2019. As a response, their daily allowance has increased to £323. Of course, £6.8 Billion is reserved for Brexit but this is a politically neutral and unbiased publication so make of that what you will. There is money to be spent on Grenfell, there is always money if you look hard enough. It would have cost just £4,000 to fit the tower block with sprinklers. The Conservative government seem to have a penchant for trying to cut corners and then having to doll out more money to fix their corner cutting catastrophes. Maybe next year, at another Brit performance, another artist can do the asking, maybe it will become an annual tradition. Our grandkids can ask us what Grenfell was, as they whizz up and down the country on HS2. Will the families be housed? Will the deceased be respected with a proper enquiry and respect from politicians? I guess we will have to find out next year.