- Created: Tuesday, 19 June 2018 16:21
- Written by Susan Davidson
The Tower: London Review of Books, 7 June 2018
The 60,000+-word essay published by the London Review of Books just one week before the anniversary of the Grenfell fire, by novelist and reporter Andrew O’Hagan, shows the kind of establishment backlash we can now expect against those fighting for justice for the 72 people who died. O’Hagan’s ‘novella’ does a hatchet job on activists and campaigners – ‘agitators’, in his words - patronises survivors and absolves the local council and Kensington and Chelsea Tenants’ Management Organisation that oversaw the lethal recladding of the tower of blame. In O’Hagan’s through-the-looking-glass world, the council leaders are in fact the misunderstood heroes of the hour; the villains of the piece become, instead, the firefighters, campaign groups like Grenfell Housing Action and Grenfell United and, crucially, any survivor or bereaved relative with the temerity to complain or demand adequate redress, rather than being grateful for everything that’s been done for them and their luck to have even had the opportunity to live in the richest borough in the country. Make no mistake, this appalling, dishonest, self-indulgent extravaganza is an opening sally by the ruling class to roll back the wave of popular sympathy for the victims of Grenfell and rehabilitate the council, no doubt with an eye to the public inquiry and ensuring they do not face criminal charges for their role in the murder of 72 working class people.