Grenfell: this should change everything

Issue: 156

Eileen Short

After the terrible fire at Grenfell tower on 14 June and its deadly aftermath, political shock waves are still agitating communities and disturbing politicians.1 Grenfell is a council housing block in west London which burned for 24 hours killing many who lived there. The fire is a political crime, the price of austerity, of privatisation and the Tory “bonfire of regulations”.2

The details have been much, though patchily, reported. Institutions of state and class rule, including the media, have been shown up as part of a web of power that is disdainful of the people who lived and died at Grenfell. The national and local government response to the fire was weak and incompetent (or worse). The prime minister, her advisers and Conservative local council leaders, confronted with the reality of working class people in pain and distress, stood aloof and detached. Nicholas Paget-Brown, local Kensington and Chelsea (K&C) council leader at the time of the fire, blamed Grenfell residents for the lack of fire safety measures in their homes.3 He and his deputy Rock Feilding-Mellen were eventually forced to resign, with Paget-Brown grudgingly accepting a “share of responsibility” for the council’s “perceived failings”.4 Paget-Brown then advertised himself for hire, offering advice on working with local authorities!5

Elizabeth Campbell, an ally of Paget-Brown who took over as council leader, admits she has never been in any of the borough’s tower blocks in her 11 years as a councillor.6 This fact alone speaks volumes for the “them and us” world of Kensington and Chelsea politics. Grenfell has become a symbol of the divided city. That disconnect seemed to paralyse the establishment: politicians, media and judiciary were visibly scared of the anger, and horrified at being expected to engage with those who lived in Grenfell and the community around them.

The media came under fire for their lack of interest even before disaster struck. The dirth of local reporters, and their lack of knowledge or connections with the working class community of the area or understanding of council housing, left mainstream reporters scrabbling to avoid coming across as Theresa May-like. As Channel 4’s Jon Snow reflected, “Grenfell speaks to us all about our own lack of diversity and capacity to reach into the swaths of Western society with whom we have no connection”.7

An Economist blog reflected the threat our rulers felt at the connected disasters, for them, of the general election on 8 June and the Grenfell fire:

The fire revealed the world of London’s growing service class: the immigrants, refugees and casual labourers who are warehoused in (in this case unsafe) social housing so that they can provide the over-class of surrounding Kensington with drivers, cleaners, hairdressers and pedicurists…

Mr Corbyn pushed home his advantage by calling for the seizure of empty luxury flats for people who are made homeless by the fire… British civilisation is based on respect for private property: the requisition of such property last occurred during the two world wars and was followed by compensation… It is also based on respect for the principles of parliamentary democracy.8

The long inglorious history of class contempt infused with racism, integral to housing in Kensington and Chelsea, was exposed as alive and still shaping politics in Britain. Housing has become a renewed focus of class conflict.

The response of most Londoners, and people elsewhere, was a very public contrast to the failures of government. More than 170 tonnes of physical donations (including clothes, food, baby milk and water) were collected in three weeks.9 Hundreds of individuals and organisations, including local churches and Muslim aid organisations, gathered to volunteer practical help at community centres and emergency relief stations. Often these were self-organised, in the echoing gap left by the failure of the official response. The local council, we now know, never activated their prepared disaster support plan.10 As yet there is no public explanation for this. Amid the desperate need for support and for answers, speculation grew. Were the council and the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) busy trying to destroy evidence of their guilt? Was donated money being corruptly siphoned off? Was the number of deaths being disguised, hidden or managed?

Between them, the state, the local council and landlord, could not even acknowledge the scale of the deaths, let alone give accurate numbers and names of the dead. In the first weeks the official death toll was repeatedly limited to 17, despite what witnesses had seen.11 Making working class people invisible added to the grief and anger. There are reasons to be methodical in naming the dead. But in 129 flats, home to around 350 people, the lack of a simple estimate of the missing and acknowledgement of the scale of the disaster smacked of news management and cover-up. It is a measure of the chaos and inhumanity of a broken housing system, that there is no reliable record of who lived in Grenfell. Many of them—insecure private renters, migrants and refugees—are struggling without basic human rights, amid the bureaucracy and surveillance of 21st century life in Britain.

The slowness in rehousing survivors and distributing donated money further exposes the attitudes of the British state and its agents in relation to ordinary people in times of need. Of the total £18.8 million donated to help Grenfell residents, by August 2017 £7.25 million had been forwarded to the distributing organisations, and only £2.8 million given to survivors and the community. How many forms, what conditions are being imposed, by top-down layers of ­bureaucracy appearing like officers of the Raj colonial service, to ration help?

As the state failed them, people in K&C and beyond were openly questioning the fundamentals of equality and justice in Britain. The foundation of bourgeois democracy, the “Great” in Great Britain, we are told, rests on equal rights of citizens before the law and government, elected democracy and accountability, guaranteed and incorruptible emergency and public services, and opportunities for all.

For most people most of the time, what we experience and expect is much closer to Karl Marx’s version of proletarian life: you work (or try to), provide care, get money that means you can live and eat, send children to school and hope for the best. Life is tough and alienating, but better than most of the alternatives.

When politicians and the state fail so badly: when their decisions create disaster, when they cannot or will not provide help, when they show their contempt and ignorance—then along with distress is a furious anger. Inequality of class, of race and status is shown to be a matter of life and death, with the people of Grenfell expendable, just like those who die in Chinese factories or floods in Bangladesh. This is the link to Hillsborough, to Aberfan, to New Orleans after Katrina and to Houston after Harvey. How disasters happen, and their consequences, are determined by class, wealth and racism.

The response to Grenfell has been intensely political.

Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the election had already destroyed Theresa May’s majority in parliament, exposing the government’s weakness.12 The election of Emma Dent Coad, K&C’s first ever Labour MP defeating a long Tory dynastic rule, was one of the 2017 election highpoints.

Opposition rises from below, encouraged by the possibility of change seeming near. The big question for many is will it be real material change? And what do we need to do to make that happen?

Grenfell exposed the attritional effect on public services of cuts and privatisation, the inequality at the heart of London’s wealth, and the consequences for how working class people now live. In 2002 Donald Rumsfeld, then United States secretary of defence, described free-market economist Milton Freedman as “the embodiment of the truth that ideas have consequences”.13 In Britain in 2017 Grenfell is that embodiment. The long war on the working class that goes by the name neoliberalism has become combustible. And racism is woven into that war.


Grenfell is the worst, but not the first, such atrocity. A disastrous fire in 2009 killed six people at Lakanal House, a council block in south London. An all-party fire safety group of MPs wrote to ministers 14 times, demanding action on the Lakanal coroner’s recommended fire safety measures for other blocks.14

The flammable cladding used on the outside of Grenfell Tower is thought to be a major factor in allowing the fire to spread so quickly. On 17 May, just weeks before the fire, the London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety wrote to all London councils warning them to reconsider the safety of building materials used for cladding after a fire in Shepherds Court, Hammersmith. But as Hugh Robertson, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) senior policy officer for health and safety, says, Grenfell is testament to “the government’s ideological obsession with deregulation”.15 Building controls, fire inspections and building materials research have all been privatised and outsourced.

It is very difficult for tenant groups, safety representatives, or local councillors, to find out if a building meets legal standards, and the Tory government still boasts of cutting fire safety inspections.16 The accumulated effect of deregulation and privatisation of inspection and control allows developers, builders and landlords to “inspect” themselves, as Hazards magazine spells out.17 Housing association and private tenants across Britain struggling to make landlords address fire and other safety concerns are finding that they are at the same or greater risk. (The English Housing Survey estimates that 1.04 million rented homes are unsafe, with the vast majority—795,000—home to private renters.18)

And the danger extends to workplaces including offices, schools and hospitals.19 Fire prevention sprinkler systems were fitted in only 35 percent of new schools built between 2010 and 2016; down from 70 percent of those built 2007-10.20 Schools minister Nick Gibb, who complains that “including sprinklers in new school buildings would add between 2 percent and 6 percent to the cost of works”, has been forced to back down on further cuts to fire protection in schools in the aftermath of Grenfell.21

Privatisation and neoliberalism

The road to Grenfell was paved by politicians; as shadow chancellor John McDonnell says, people were “murdered by political decisions”.22

Built in 1972-4, Grenfell tower was designed to higher space and safety standards than apply today. Between 1969 and 1979, some 1,337,960 council homes were built in the UK, more than four in ten of all homes built in those years.23 Historically the area around Grenfell, in North Kensington, was known for poor housing and slum landlords, and home to generations of migrants and others displaced by redevelopment in London. The infamous slumlord Peter Rachman operated in the area in the 1950s. But there was always resistance: in the “Great Sunday Squat” of 1946, part of a wider squatting movement in the face of the post-war housing crisis, “around 1,500 people took over flats in Kensington, Pimlico and St John’s Wood”.24 The austerity and social crises in the aftermath of the Second World War created a wave of radicalisation across Europe and elsewhere. In Britain the 1945 Labour government faced mass campaigns including direct action with families squatting former military bases and other sites. By 1946 Aneurin Bevan reported to the House of Commons that 1,038 camps were occupied by 39,535 households in England and Wales alone.25

The building of Grenfell and surrounding estates, after clearances for major road building, was in part a response to the terrible housing conditions, and to the Notting Hill race riots of 1958. Council and housing association homes for rent provided a vital break with insecurity and terrible conditions, and the possibility of a stable life, contributing to a 60 percent reduction in private renting in K&C between 1971 and 1981.26 The area still had less council housing than other inner London boroughs by the 1980s. Migrants, many low paid and working shifts in central London hotels, in catering, for London Transport and the NHS, remained concentrated disproportionately in private renting, in overcrowded, insecure homes in poor repair.

By 1980, one in three people in Britain lived in council housing. This was a material gain for many, with rights, security and relatively low rents. But mass council housing was, from a very early stage, compromised as financial and other pressures undermined building standards and design. It was managed paternalistically, and only sporadically provided examples of alternative ways of organising life and communities. But ongoing struggles over housing, and the achievements of the post-1945 working class, meant that millions of new council tenants, with a common tenancy, manager, neighbourhood and elected landlord, became a force in local housing and other politics. The history of tenant activism (sometimes with close links to the Labour Party and its councillors), was the basis of solid opposition to, for example, the Conservative Housing Finance Act 1972.

Such attacks were stepped up under Margaret Thatcher, with attempts to impose large-scale privatisation of estates, as well as the “Right to Buy” sell-off of individual homes with large subsidies, at the expense of remaining council homes.

Funding and cuts

The former leader of Kensington and Chelsea council has said Grenfell tenants were offered a choice, of a sprinkler system or modernised kitchens and bathrooms. This is an example of the unacceptable “choices” presented to council tenants and leaseholders, and described as “consultation”, over three decades… Such bartering between safety and essential improvement work, undermining accountability, helped create the Grenfell disaster.27

Under Tony Blair, New Labour attempted to push privatisation of council housing in the big cities. This met with resistance, and the formation of the Defend Council Housing campaign in 1997. Privatisation was defeated by tenants’ ballots in Birmingham and other cities; successful campaigns also won victories against the odds in towns and rural areas. In the face of such resistance, Blair’s government held out the promise of a Decent Homes Standard every home should reach—but did not guarantee the money to pay for necessary works. Instead money was offered with strings attached, conditional on Private Finance Initiatives, Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) or stock transfer. For most tenants and leaseholders the Decent Homes Standard became an operation in bullying and blackmail. New wiring, windows, kitchens and bathrooms were needed—but too often, as at Grenfell, this depended on tenants accepting transfer, PFI or arm’s length management.

Council housing has, after decades of political attacks and disinvestment, come to symbolise two different things: poor and often neglected housing, stigmatised and derided. At the same time, it offers the best protection from high rents and insecurity, and alternative non-market housing in defiance of what private landlords and capital would impose on us.

Tenant campaigners have pointed out to the Grenfell Inquiry that not a single council housing authority in Britain currently has sufficient funds to maintain homes to a decent, safe standard.28 Of 173 council and housing association cladded blocks, 165 are unsafe.29 Many more lack solid fire doors, adequate windows, sound structure and fire escapes, let alone sprinklers.

Everyone living in these blocks lives in fear of fire. This is why the Grenfell horror, coming after the Corbyn “surge”, created, as one commentator put it, “the conditions—and the demand—for a kind of truth and reconciliation ­commission on 40 years of neoliberalism”.30

The official response, a public inquiry into Grenfell announced by Theresa May on 29 June, will be no such thing.31 The inquiry’s chair, retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, has already met hostile criticism: “One local resident drew applause and cheers as she said: ‘You do not have our confidence, you do not represent us and you do not look like any of us’. Another local, one of the first members of public to speak said: ‘I don’t think you are going to do us justice… We need someone who’s real’”.32 Predictably, the inquiry will be narrow, and seems determined to silence survivors, contain criticism and avoid any possible blame landing on the national government.

Confirming a political system working to draw a veil over the key issues raised at Grenfell, housing minister Alok Shama responded with more empty words and buck-passing to a 106,000-strong petition demanding action to “bring in crucial fire safety regs now; make the UK’s tower blocks safe”.33 Shama claims his department did all it could to improve fire safety, after the Lakanal House fire and the coroner’s unequivocal recommendations that followed. John Tyson, who initiated the petition, concludes: “He must be joking”.

Demolition threat

Ministers are keen to get rid of council housing, and communities minister Sajid Javid was quick to speculate after Grenfell that tower blocks should be demolished (he did not of course mean valuable office and private residential blocks).34 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan echoed this: “It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down”.35 Such talk was dropped in an angry political climate. But it is a warning of how politicians respond to disaster, driven by a grasping developers’ logic, quick to exploit an opportunity. K&C council managers are reported to be talking to alternative private registered provider landlords (formerly housing associations) about taking over the borough’s council housing—a privatisation move that has already been rejected once by K&C tenants.

And a new K&C task force member has been appointed: Chris Wood, director of a housing consultancy and former CEO of the London Borough of Newham. He led the development of Stratford and “London’s largest estate-based regeneration scheme” at Canning Town, pushing through the large-scale clearance of council housing, and driving out tenants to make way for the better-off.36 This is an ominous echo of New Orleans. Impressive public housing, undamaged by winds or flooding, was demolished in a frenzy of social cleansing after Katrina,37 and the working class of Houston may face a similar assault on their homes.38


Despite 40 years of squeezed funding for public services including housing, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea still has reserves worth £274 million and in 2014 (after seven years of funding cuts since 2007) managed to cut local council tax by £100 per head. Yet the council could not find the cash to pay for sprinklers, or the £5,000 extra it would have cost to use a fire resistant form of cladding. These were explicitly cost-cutting decisions. The cladding, “a low-cost way of improving the front of the building—was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround north Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it”.39 Such tarting up is in part about disguising typical council blocks. It reflects stereotyping of the poor.

The community around Grenfell are, like most of us, relatively poor compared to the wealthy of K&C. This does not make them an underclass. They are the working class of London, including carers, refugees, people on low or average pay. They are teachers, hospital, catering and transport workers. At least 28 Unite union members lived in Grenfell; nine are unaccounted for.40 PCS is among other unions with members who lived in or near Grenfell Tower.41

The tenants were organised as part of the Lancaster West Residents’ Association and the Grenfell Action Group, which had logged the problems for many years.42 The Action Group warned in November 2016 that:

Only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation… It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice!43

The K&C Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) and the borough-wide Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) created layers of smoke screens that allowed elected councillors to deny accountability. A client relationship, divide and rule and a bureaucratised failure of representation fed into and weakened the formal tenant movement in K&C. The ALMO and TMO failed to reflect the grassroots or the diversity of K&C estates, and in truth acted as a one-way conduit of power and decision-making, working within the council’s political parameters.

Tenants are commonly offered places on the board as part of outsourced or privatised estate ownership or management. We are told this will make such bodies accountable to tenants and leaseholders on estates. In practice, tenant board members are rarely elected in a mass participation vote, are silenced by gagging clauses, and are usually bound by company law to represent the interests of the organisation rather than those of tenants. Liz Cairncross, researching tenant board members of housing associations, found that:

While tenant board members may perceive themselves and be perceived as representatives, formally their accountability is to shareholders, funders and the regulator as individual and corporate members of the board, primarily an upward accountability…boards were subject to processes of manipulation, screening and institutionalised pre-emption…hapless and manipulated by chief executives and other executive directors.44

Government changes in council housing finance have hit K&C as elsewhere, although the council has been Conservative-run since it was formed in 1964, and has large financial reserves. In 2012 as part of a new “self-financing” deal, the government decentralised huge levels of historic housing debt (related to earlier council house building), falsely inflated it, and dumped it on the ring-fenced council housing revenue accounts (HRA). A rent cut, while welcome for tenants, cut council housing income and further sabotaged the funding agreement. In 2016-17 K&C council paid out debt interest of over £10 million, out of a total £57.5 million HRA budget and more money was siphoned off in management fees and other questionable changes. Instead of exposing and challenging this, the KCTMO worked to make cuts: “The TMO has been extremely successful in achieving savings as contracts are retendered. The retendering of TMO managed contracts has resulted in ongoing annual savings of approximately £800,000… Further efficiencies savings will continue to be sought”.45

Council housing is not subsidised; far more public funding goes to homeowners, landlords, developers and financiers. The 2010 coalition government slashed housing capital funding by 60 percent—the first and biggest cut. Their Localism Act 2011 attacked secure tenancies and introduced the fake “affordable rent”—in fact up to 80 percent of market rents, now much used by councils and housing associations, pushing up costs of new homes for rent.

Most councils are, like K&C and its TMO, trying to manage the squeeze on finances and threats to services. A recent survey found that three quarters of councils think their finances are unsustainable, and over 40 percent say their 2017/18 budget will cut frontline services in a way people will notice.46 In K&C the TMO was instrumental in imposing cuts and, along with the council, obscuring responsibility and diffusing resistance. Councils across Britain, many Labour-led, are imposing cuts, sacking workers, demolishing homes and selling off land in an attempt to manage impossible budgets. Pressure is rising for Labour councils to join with tenants and workers to challenge the government publicly. But left and progressive councillors are instead continuing to try to manage skilfully and avoid public conflict. Labour, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party and Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland have all paid a political price for this. In this context, Grenfell is a warning siren for every local council.

In K&C the local Tory fiefdom is in meltdown. The council leader and deputy and TMO chief executive Robert Black have all been forced to step down. Prime minister May has announced that the TMO will be removed, without any reference to tenant elections or accountability.47 Day-to-day management has been taken over by managers from neighbouring Labour councils. The new chief executive, Barry Quirk, was head of Labour dominated Lewisham Council. And the new taskforce also includes a former housing manager from Newham.

Labour politics

Using former Labour officers and politicians to bail out K&C’s reputation is a measure of Tory weakness, but it is also a warning. To honour the needs of Grenfell survivors and the north Kensington community requires a break with Tory politics. It requires radical action to take over empty homes, restore much-needed community and health services, and demand full government funding for fire safety and other housing work. But instead they are being sucked into acting as a loyal second 11, rebuilding stable local government in K&C. Labour in K&C could lead councils across England in a protest at government housing policies, demanding action on fire safety and security. But so far they have not.

Many Labour Party officials, MPs and councillors remain wedded to a politics of deals with developers. This means more redevelopment of unaffordable homes, and higher proportions of declining incomes going towards housing costs, with more people homeless, or in unfit, overcrowded and dangerous homes. It means business as usual.

Corbyn’s own ten pre-election pledges included a “secure homes guarantee”: “We will build a million new homes in five years, with at least half a million council homes… We will end insecurity for private renters by introducing rent controls, secure tenancies and a charter of private tenants’ rights”.48 Corbyn’s commitments inspired Labour supporters, and embody what millions now expect from Labour. But the party’s manifesto in May 2017 did not match Corbyn’s. Alongside welcome commitments to scrap the bedroom tax and suspend the Right to Buy scheme, the manifesto reduced its commitment on new homes to “building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale”.49

The fight for safe homes and justice for Grenfell cannot be delegated to Labour. Pressure from independent organisation and direct action, linking tenant activists, trade unions, Labour supporters and others, is key to challenging the policies of capital in relation to housing. The anger over Grenfell, and the increasing housing resistance, facing a weakened Tory government and an emboldened Labour Party, is creating the best opportunity in decades to turn that possibility into action.

But there are dangers if the left does not act fast and boldly. The Economist blog, in its alarm at the combined Corbyn and Grenfell threat, showed in a telling footnote how ready they are to play up to racism:

The Grenfell disaster will not only strengthen Mr Corbyn’s short-term project of toppling Mrs May’s weak Conservative government. But it will strengthen his longer-term project of toppling the neoliberal model that has been in power in Britain since the 1980s… Clarification (July 19th): This article originally mentioned Sadiq Khan’s faith because many of the victims of the fire were themselves Muslims. The mention has since been removed.50

A strong, active anti-racist thread needs to run through all our community, trade union and housing campaigns, to resist and insulate against such Islamophobia and other forms of racist divide and rule.

For the housing crisis and its political consequences are beginning to give our rulers sleepless nights. Alex Morton, David Cameron’s adviser on housing and planning 2013-16, says: “The Conservatives have never won an electoral majority without home ownership being part of the offer… David Cameron believed, rightly, a society without mass home ownership was both unfair and prone to extremist left wing politics”.51 Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon stockbroker, says housing policies are threatening public support for capitalist parties, due to the 2007 banking bailouts and the unfettered free market. Bank capitalisations, lending schemes, emergency interest rate cuts and £11 trillion of global credit creation:

Ended up leaking into residential property, with profound social and political consequences. Only when one connects the spiralling cost of UK housing with the widespread perception that these measures constitute a “bankers’ bailout” can the resentment of the electorate be fully understood… When it comes to this special class of basic human need, free-market disciplines need to be restrained. Demand, instead of being unfettered, must be managed. Only by treating the housing market in this way will broader free-market principles, so valuable to a well-functioning market economy, maintain the public’s support.52

Though very illuminating, such commentary will not divert the stampede for profit by investors, builders, developers and landlords, each chasing a margin of money over their competitors. That is how the engine of capitalism works, and housing is closely tied to the heart of this beast.

The demand for justice for Grenfell continues to mobilise a housing movement which needs to be politically-primed, organised and prepared to act independently, seizing the time for change. Every bit of progress we win on regulation, installing sprinklers in tower blocks and forcing landlords to listen to tenants, will be a welcome gain. But the private sector never has provided and never will provide safe, decent, secure homes for the majority.

Friedrich Engels wrote, not today but in 1872, that:

The housing conditions of the workers were examined and attempts were made to remedy the most crying evils. In England particularly… Government commissions were appointed to inquire into the hygienic conditions of the working classes; their reports, honourably distinguished from all continental sources by their accuracy, completeness and impartiality, provided the basis for new, more or less, radically effective, laws. Incomplete as these laws are, they are still infinitely ahead of everything that has been done in this direction up to the present on the continent. Nevertheless, the capitalist order of society reproduces again and again the evils which are to be remedied with such inevitable necessity that even in England the remedying of them has hardly advanced a single step.53

To break the endless recreation of slums, disease, exploitation and death, we have to build not only homes but a different world where the grip of capital is broken if we are to end the cycle that limits the life chances of the rest of us.

Eileen Short lives in London and is a leading member of Defend Council Housing.


1 For many of us, hardened campaigners though we may be, a sense of political responsibility infuses the anger and distress. It becomes more urgent, and harder, to speak and write about Grenfell; feels more productive to channel anger into action. Some figures used in this article (such as the number of Unite members unaccounted for) have changed since this was written in September 2017. And though written before Labour’s 2017 annual conference, housing debates and Jeremy Corbyn’s speech confirm the tension between Corbyn and Labour’s grassroots, and the practice of many councils.

2 Fleming, 2011; Mark, 2014.

3 Robson, 2017.

4 Batchelor, 2017.

5 Griggs, 2017.

6 Hughes, 2017.

7 Snow, 2017.

8 Economist, 2017.

9 Burridge, 2017.

10 Choi, 2017.

11 Horton and others, 2017.

12 Callinicos, 2017.

13 Quoted in Klein, 2017.

14 Singh, Smith and Connolly, 2017.

15 Robertson, 2017.

16 See the government’s Cutting Red Tape programme at

17 O’Neill, 2017.

18 Department for Communities and Local Government, 2017.

19 Campbell, 2017.

21 Helm, 2017.

22 Syal, 2017.

23 Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012.

24 Webber, 2012.

25 Quoted in Webber 2012. Webber provides a good intro, though he emphasises the “respectability” and lack of overt politics among squatters, and downplays the role of Communist and other political activists. See also Burnham, 2009, and, in a sign of renewed interest, two new publications this year: Watson, 2017, and Vasudevan, 2017.

26 Kensington & Chelsea Race and Housing Action Group, 1989.

27 Defend Council Housing (DCH), 2017.

28 Defend Council Housing (DCH), 2017.

29 Hansard, 5 September 2017, volume 628.

30 Davies, 2017.

32 Jamieson, 2017.

34 Swinford, 2017.

35 Press Association, 2017.

37 Robbins, 2017a, pp142-170

38 Robbins, 2017b.

39 Griffin, 2017.

40 Unite the Union, 2017.

41 PCS, 2017.

42 Grenfell Action Group, 2013 and 2014.

43 Grenfell Action Group, 2016.

44 Cairncross, 2004.

45 See the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Housing Revenue Account Budget Report 2017/18—

47 Barnes, 2017.

49 Labour Party, 2017.

50 Economist, 2017.

51 Hope, 2017.

52 French, 2017.

53 Engels, 1970.


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