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[Image from Political Scrapbook.]

The headline news here is that George Osborne, as the newly-appointed editor of the Evening Standard, ordered the paper’s reporters not to take a hard line when reporting the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington.

It seems he was worried that the budget cuts he imposed as Chancellor of the Exchequer might be linked to the deaths of mostly-poor Londoners.

So his line was to call on people to show “unity in grief” and to raise funds for victims, according to a profile of him in Esquire magazine, reported in Political Scrapbook.

As a professional news reporter, This Writer finds his behaviour utterly unacceptable if this is true. It is the news reporter’s job to be impartial; to report the facts as they are known.

That is what Osborne himself said he would do when he took over as the Standard‘s editor:

Instead it seems he has been doing himself just as many favours as he could.

Incidentally, the line taken by Osborne and the Standard – that everybody should express their unity and not go anywhere near discussing the causes of the fire – was adopted by many right-wing reporters, commentators and members of the public, who then tried to shame the rest of us for bothering to point out that there were political reasons for the disaster.

I think I’m still correct in saying This Site was the first to make these connections. It would be nice to see those who criticised me for doing so admit that it was their vitriol that was inappropriate – but I shan’t hold my breath waiting for it.

In other news, fire chiefs have called for sprinklers to be retrofitted into tower blocks in response to the Grenfell disaster:

In fact, residents had been campaigning for sprinklers to be fitted for years before the fire happened. But London fire commissioner Dany Cotton is absolutely right to use the disaster to press for action now.

The BBC has revealed that a series of tower block blazes in at least the last eight years meant it was known in the construction industry that polyethylene cladding panels were unsafe – so why were they still used on Grenfell Tower after this became common knowledge? Here’s the report:

The report also suggested that, knowing the risks, someone made a decision to swap non-combustible cladding for cheaper – but flammable – cladding instead, in order to save just £60,000:


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