The tragedy of Grenfell Tower brings to a head our deep disenchantment with our elected elite

Theresa May avoids difficult questions as the public looks for leadership, compassion, action and responsibility.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan gets hostile reception during visit to Grenfell TowerStoryful

The last two years have seen an almost constant barrage of elections and tragedies and yet nothing perceptibly seems to have changed. Anger and disenchantment have sprung from sadness and fear, and faith in our elected representatives to confront and solve our problems plummets towards an all-time low.

This national feeling of dislocation and alienation has been writ large by the seemingly avoidable nightmare at Grenfell Tower in west London. As the death toll rises – from a fire in a high-rise building largely home to the poorest and disadvantaged among our society – the outrage and pleas for action grow louder still.

At the centre of this maelstrom stands Theresa May. Except it is the Prime Minister's very refusal to put herself in the middle of this tragedy that is further fuelling the public's rancour.

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May and the politicians around her stand accused of being, at the very least, tone deaf over this disaster. The Prime Minister's failure to go into the community to speak to the victims just another sign that those in power are lacking in empathy – or even basic human decency.

Britain is most certainly not 'reeling'. But we are furious with those in power. You can feel it out there.

The feeling of drift between the public and our top elected representatives began innocuously enough with a General Election which saw the Liberal Democrats blamed for the actions of David Cameron's government while the Conservatives were given the majority it required to continue its policies.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to members of the fire service as she visits Grenfell Tower - but she has not gone out amongst the local community.Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

This set off a course of events which might perhaps have been foreseen had the so-called Westminster elite had any real contact with the people they are supposed to represent.

Cameron had promised a referendum on EU membership. It was ill-thought out and poorly organised – constitutional changes of this type are never fought on the basis of a simple majority – and thus an almost even split among the British electorate issued forth an epochal change for the nation. The Leave leaders – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage – had so little expectation of victory that there was no plan for what happened when they won. Instead of staying to sort out the mess he had created, Cameron slipped out of the door as quickly as possible, abdicating any responsibility for what came next.

The murder of an MP during the referendum campaign perhaps ought to have shocked the nation more than it did. That it was a Labour MP who was murdered by a white racist supremacist saw the incident almost brushed aside by a media for whom this awful event did not fit their narrative of who the dangers to our society are.

No matter how misguided the motives of Thomas Mair there can be little doubt that his actions were merely the most violent reaction to a despair and rage that has been stoked up over the early years of a new Millennium that began with so much optimism.

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Mair shouted "Death to traitors. Freedom for Britain" as he killed Jo Cox, exactly a year ago today. His cry just the most murderous of a white working class who have been told over and over again – by the politicians and newspapers of the right – that their problems have been caused by the twin evils of European Union bureaucracy and mass immigration.

Shortly afterwards this verdict was returned by 52% of the British electorate, despite just about every public figure outside the far right arguing that it was a mistake of massive proportions. The groundswell was too strong to halt a protest vote subconsciously made to make the elite sit up and listen to those who feel they have been left behind.

Instead of trying to heal the divisions created by this enormous decision, the new Prime Minister – chosen it seemed as merely the best of a bad bunch – merely sought to stoke these divisions. Supported by her newspaper cheerleaders, the half of the population against such a move were labelled 'Saboteurs' and 'Traitors'. Seeking a mandate for this divisive approach, the Tories organised another – and unnecessary – election.

While the politicians once again focused on winning power, further nightmares struck close to home, with attacks on a pop concert in Manchester and a Saturday night in the pubs and restaurants of London Bridge. Direct blame should not be attached to our elected representatives at all for this. But nevertheless, the terrorist outrages struck such fearful chords across Britain because any one of us could imagine being at a pop concert with our children or enjoying a balmy evening by a river.

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That they came during a political campaign meant we were quickly understanding that such events were not unrelated to constant and almost surreptitious cutbacks to the services that we have long taken for granted: the security afforded by our police and intelligence services.

I believe the surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn was directly related to the sense that this downward spiral for the nation was in some way self-induced: call it greed or call it austerity, the pillars that our society requires have been eroded.

Theresa May no longer has a majority and yet she seeks to cling to power by any means necessary, even if that risks further division and fear by causing new tensions in Northern Ireland, a province that is only just becoming accustomed to peace.

Just as we adjusted to the new political order, the horrors of Grenfell Tower were visited upon the poorest in our society. The drip drip of information that has accompanied it makes grim reading: The safety warnings that have been ignored becoming clear as the death toll horrifically mounts. The feeling, expressed so eloquently by Lily Allen, that the loss of life was being underplayed in an attempt to stem public anger.

That fires happen is tragic, but so many elements point to this awful event being directly linked to political decisions that were based on financial greed first and human safety last.

Last year the Tories voted down a move to make landlords responsible for making properties "fit for human habitation". Some 71 of those Tory MPs also happened to be landlords.

Grenfell Tower underwent a major renovation last year but water-sprinklers were not fitted (despite this being outlawed for new-builds) and for the sake of just £5,000 non-fire-resistant cladding had been wrapped around the building. That a major purpose of the cladding was to make the building less of an eyesore for the richer residents of the Borough of Kensington just heaps scorn upon the tragic victims.

The bravery of the fire services tackling the inferno has also heightened the sense of outrage that these heroes are acting with one hand tied behind their back: stations closed and jobs cut by a local government that had been overseen by Boris Johnson. Johnson is touted as possibly the next prime minister and yet he has been behind the destabilisation of our country, through his Brexit lies and his mismanagement as Mayor of London.

As the names of the victims are revealed, another tragic irony becomes apparent: many of those living in Grenfell Tower were immigrants, let down by the political elite of a country that they had come to for hope and shelter.

May's failure to talk to the victims of this horror on the ground screams out a lack of accountability and an unwillingness from the leader of our country to face up to responsibility. The government fears being heckled more than they wish to make a small gesture towards the anguish and suffering. (During the last few hours, she has visited the local hospital - but again in a controlled setting.)

Local anger, it should be said, is not only directed at the government but also at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who at least chose to walk among the community. But also at journalists like Jon Snow too from Channel 4. Hostility extends beyond party lines but also to the media too.

As tragedy follows tragedy, Britain is looking for the sort of leadership that offers hope and understanding, words that mean something, action that can and will be taken.

The emptiness of May's rhetoric has been exposed. Even if she finds a way to cling on to power, does anyone believe it is anything more than that? An attempt to cling on to power at any price?

Does anybody seriously believe Boris Johnson would be any better? Does this government care about anyone but themselves and their wealthy friends? When Simon Cowell offers to organise a charity record to help the victims seems like a more positive reaction to what the government has mustered, what do we expect from our leaders any more?

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