Jeremy Corbyn, at a visit to the scene of the Grenfell tragic event and to some of the families and victims of the inferno, he suggested that empty luxury flats in the area of Kensington and Chelsea should be requisitioned and given to victims made homeless by the fire if necessary.
Fresh from an unexpected performance at the poll on 8th June, where clearly his image and personalities have seen a tremendous improvement and a record personal approval rating, Jeremy Corbyn won, even more hearts by his visit to the scene, where he demonstrated his emotional touch and effortless ability to connect with people, which drew a sharp contrast to the Prime Minister’s visit.
This is not the news; the news is his opinion of what should happen immediately. While Government has promised to rehouse affected people, Jeremy Corbyn’s attention was drawn to “unoccupied luxury” homes.
In an emotionally charged atmosphere, the event is still very raw, the impacts are real and people are angry at what is clearly an unnecessary loss of lives at first, then descended into lack of timely and adequate response from authorities, people no doubt look up to the government for answers, not politics and no grandstanding, but practical answers that can be implemented immediately. One of the immediate problems facing victims was accommodation, followed by several other things like restoring people’s lives to near normal, although the passages of time heal, I don’t see how anyone would get over this very quickly.
Now, any statements made by politicians, either in power or opposition, that are not practical or deliverable within the timeframe needed are not only wrong, but such politicians are playing politics with people’s emotion and circumstances either knowingly or ignorantly. I can only describe this as playing to the gallery but at a wrong place and time.
The nice cuddly, social justice campaigner is a politician after all.
His suggestion that Government should take up unoccupied luxury homes in the borough was not practicable, it is of no use to victims of Grenfell Tower as this will require policy changes which will take some time to be passed, and he knows it. He said it anyway to further his reputation as people’s man.
This reminded me of the Virgin train drama where he sat on the floor beside a toilet, claiming there was no seat but it later emerged that, while lack of seats may be problems at other times, at the very moment Corbyn was on the train, there were seats all over.
Unless he wishes to become a dictator, which I know or think he isn’t, and we are in a democracy anyway, Government acquisition of people’s property requires a process, a process that doesn’t just happen, this is aside the fact that the owners of the said unoccupied luxury houses have rights as citizens, investors or human as well.
The point here is not about the right or wrong or even the morality of buying up houses you don’t need, creating an artificial demand and raising the cost of houses as a whole beyond what can be afforded by an average person in the area. I don’t think this is the right thing, I think it disadvantaged people unfairly, but correcting the anomaly is not by creating another anomaly.
No doubt, this sort of posture and pronouncements will be popular and well received by a lot of people, but when the person making the pronouncement knows it is not possible, at least in the immediate future to just knock doors down and hand keys over to others, does It amount to deceit? Or maybe a bit of delusion? or the desire to say something nice? or that is who he really is?
I like and share some of Jeremy Corbyn’s stands on social justice, in as far as people should be treated and govern fairly, with dignity, respect and equitably. However, his extension of that definition is where I depart from him. I believe it is part of social justice that people who create wealth should have the right to reap the benefit of their creations without the threat and jibes from politicians and interference from government.
Jeremy Corbyn’s disdain for wealth creation is worrying and dangerous, in my opinion, putting forward a wartime policy like land requisition is just one of many of his expressions, given any opportunity; he would show his deep-seated ideology against wealth acquisition.
Land requisitioning was a tool used during the world wars for military and civilian functions related to the war effort. The government of the time had to defend the nation anyway; there was no option, so it was a necessary tool at the time. Grenfell Tower was a monumental disaster in which residents sufferings can be compared with the sufferings of victims of war, the difference today, however, is that there are options to provide alternative accommodation both in the immediate and long term.
I believe it is socially justifiable for Corbyn to encourage upward social mobility. Yes, according to the State of the Nation report in 2016 on social mobility in Great Britain, the record is abysmal and disgraceful for a wealthy western democracy. It is perfectly within social rebalancing to encourage ambition and to support it, but to continue to make people feel that their circumstances are caused by others, or, by the virtue of other people’s successes is wrong.
There are types of toxic wealth creation that are wrong both morally and ethically, they may be within the legal limit but still wrong, the types that impede others or that disadvantaged others, these types should be lawfully rail against.
If you legitimately get it and pay the tax due on it, you are also entitled to have space and freedom to spend it how you choose to so long as is within the law. This principle applies to all.
To the people of Grenfell, my heart continues to bleed, the tragedy is not of residents of Grenfell Tower alone, but of the entire nation.
We should, however, prevent politicians seeking to make political gains from the misery of people that need practical help.