Wednesday 14 June 2017

Holding the powerful to account is no "politicising the tragedy"

A new trend is appearing in British political discourse and it's a particularly dismal one. It involves the manufacturing of synthetic outrage in order to demand that people don't attempt to hold the government to account over fatal tragedies.

I'm sure you will all have seen people using this tactic to try to silence criticism of the government over the preventable terrorist atrocities that happened during the general election campaign, and now it's happening again after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Let's just consider what we know about these three incidents.

Manchester Arena: The Manchester Muslim community tipped off the government several times that the bomber was an Islamist fanatic; the Americans tipped us off that he was planning a terrorist attack against the UK; the French tipped us off that he was hanging out with Islamists in Libya and Syria - Somehow he was allowed to pass unhindered through the UK border, then left unwatched as he planned and executed his attack.
London Bridge: Once again the Muslim community tipped off the government multiple times that the ringleader was an Islamist fanatic; he was such a well known Islamist he even appeared on a TV documentary called "The Jihadists Next Door" - He was left unwatched as he went around trying to hire a HGV just days after ISIS had instructed Islamists in the West to attack civilians with vehicles and knives. He eventually got hold of a hire van and led a deadly knife rampage through the streets of London.
Grenfell Tower: The Tory government were handed a report in 2013 that detailed fire safety improvements that should be made to 4,000 tower blocks in the UK which they ignored for four years; Boris Johnson shut down 10 fire stations in London; and Eric Pickles refused to bring in rules requiring fire sprinkler systems with a statement that "we consider a regulatory requirement is unnecessary and disproportionate" - At least six people died when Grenfell Tower rapidly turned into an inferno.
Each of these three tragedies was obviously preventable, but after every one of these incidents people have tried to shut me up with synthetic outrage displays and claims that talking about the political implications of these appalling incidents is somehow beyond the pale.

This censorship strategy seems to make the case that as long as the government cock up is so big that people actually die then they're suddenly beyond criticism or reproach because any attempt to hold them to account is "politicising the tragedy".

The world these people would like to inhabit is one where if the government lose count of the paperclips then we're allowed to get angry at them, but if people actually die then it's "shut up", "shut up", "shut up"!

It is extraordinary the lengths people will go to in order to defend the government from criticism.

Imagine the kind of person you'd have to be to work yourself up into a fit of faux outrage that some people want to hold the government to account over tragic and blatantly preventable deaths, but have no anger or outrage whatever at the government for having allowed the deaths to happen.

Presumably these people are the same the kind who get totally outraged if Jeremy Corbyn doesn't bow deeply enough at the cenotaph, can't remember a number off the top of his head in a live interview, doesn't wear a smart enough suit, or remains silent but respectful for the national anthem.

Next time you see someone trying to shout down criticism of the government in this manner, make sure you tell them to put their synthetic outrage away and ask them why they're so keen to absolve the government of responsibility by directing outrage at the people trying to hold the powerful to account for their negligence.

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