Jacob Rees-Mogg is right about Grenfell

It’s the ghoulish, Grenfell-exploiting offence-takers who are behaving immorally.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech Politics

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Let me get this right: people are angrier with Jacob Rees-Mogg for saying the Grenfell residents should have fled their burning building than they are with the fire chiefs who told the Grenfell residents not to flee their burning building? I’ve heard it all now. There have been some mad Twitterstorms over the years but this is a new low. This fury with an MP for merely saying what we all know to be true – that it is a ‘tragedy’ more people didn’t ignore the fire service’s advice on that horrific night – is just nuts.

This is the news that JRM, Tory MP and favoured punchbag of the anti-Tory middle classes, has said something about the Grenfell fire of 2017 in which 72 people died. You’d never know it from the media storm, but what he said, on the radio this morning, was eminently sensible. He said he has read the first report of the Grenfell Inquiry, which was published last week, and has concluded that ‘the chances of people surviving’ the fire in Grenfell would have increased if they had ignored the fire service’s advice to ‘stay put’. He says that if he had been in that burning building, he would have left. ‘It just seems the common-sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen’, he said.

That’s it. He was simply echoing the actual contents of the Grenfell report, which starkly says that fire chiefs’ ‘stay put’ policy proved disastrous for the Grenfell residents. The report said the London Fire Brigade’s ‘stay put’ policy prevented some families from escaping. It argues that fewer people would have died if the LFB had changed its strategy and adopted different methods earlier on during the fire. JRM is reiterating these facts. And yet people are angrier with him than they were with the LFB last week when the Grenfell report devastatingly called into question its ‘stay put’ approach to the Grenfell horror.

People are accusing JRM of saying the Grenfell residents lacked common sense. He doesn’t say that. He is saying that if he had been in the burning building, he would have left. To him that would be the common-sense thing to do. Many people agree. I do. This isn’t to insult the Grenfell residents who trusted the fire service. Nor is it to insult the firefighters who behaved with extraordinary bravery on that awful night. It is simply to question fire chiefs’ attachment to the policy of ‘stay put’, and to lament the catastrophic consequences it seems to have had on that night.

If you are more angry with a politician for saying it is a tragedy that people did not ignore dangerous advice than you are with the people who issued the dangerous advice, then your moral compass is in urgent need of repair. The cynicism of it all is breathtaking. People are purposefully misinterpreting and exploiting JRM’s words to the cynical end of hurting the Tories in the election. ‘Maybe this will cost them some votes!’ is the gross undertone of this confected media storm. Once again the leftish middle classes are exploiting the dead of Grenfell to score political points, and I say that is far more repulsive than what Rees-Mogg said on the radio this morning.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Topics Free Speech Politics


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