John McDonnell accusation that Grenfell fire victims were murdered examined

At Glastonbury (which people think to be a music festival) John McDonnell MP, the shadow chancellor, and closet Marxist made the accusation that the victims of the Grenfell fire were murdered. Guido Fawkes has a video recording here. He repeated these allegations in videoed interview with the NME, a publication when I was at school stood for New Musical Express. He tried to justify the comments when asked about the comments by Andrew Marr. All three are reproduced in an appendix.

From McDonnell’s perspective, any causes of the fire that can be determined by an inquiry conducted experts in their fields objectively assessing the evidence, are superficial. But before the evidence has been evaluated, the ultimate causes are the wrong decisions of political opponents, particularly the Tories, but also within the former mainstream of the Labour Party. McDonnell and his fellow travelers know the true interests of the people and can point to instances in the past where they have stated these ultimate causes, and have not been listened to. The fact that these anointed people have not been listened to is not only a failure of democracy, but the resulting in deaths are murder.

But look at it from a different perspective.

As Andrew Marr pointed out, the legal definition of murder, (the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought – see below) does not embrace acts of indirect killing. At most such unintended killings a lesser form of manslaughter. This does not change by pointing out a long tradition of its use, any more than racial theories are valid through centuries of use.

The BBC corroborates that long tradition.

It was in the 19th Century that philosopher Friedrich Engels sought to prove that society commits “social murder” in his book Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844.
When society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death… When it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life… forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues… its deed is murder,” he wrote of Victorian England.
Engels went on to found Marxist theory with fellow German philosopher, Karl Marx.

Such thinking was developed into a conspiracy theory. When society does not progress towards a socialist utopia, as the forces of history dictate, it must be due to the collective and secretive actions of the capitalist class who would lose out. “Social murder” has benefits for those perpetuating those actions. Under Stalin, when the collectivization of agriculture failed to progress towards the socialist utopia, it was due to a conspiracy by the kulaks. In a famine, this gave justification for closing the grain supplies off to these peasant farmers and feeding the cities. Similarly, when factories failed to meet arbitrary targets, it must have been due to managers sabotaging production for the capitalist enemy. Simply being “outed” by another was sufficient evidence to being shot after torture and a show trial.
English Common Law long ago developed the concept of trial by jury. Charges must be clearly stated and substantiated by evidence. The prosecution must convince a jury of the accused’s peers beyond reasonable doubt. The accused have the right to rebut any allegations. The judge overseas proceeding to make sure established rules and procedures are adhered to. It recognizes that no matter how good a case might appear to be, it might be fundamentally flawed. By approaching the issue an alternative perspective, what appears to be a convincing case might not be so watertight, or could completely unravel. Of course, by allowing the defendant to speak, it might work the other way. A defense based on outright lies and contradictions will serve to convince a jury of the prosecution’s accusations. In so doing, the aim is for the decision of the court to be the truth.
The development of the British concepts of “fair play” and “a level playing field” emerged alongside those developments in criminal trial by jury. However, a new word entered the Oxford English Dictionary last month, which indicates that trend has now sharply reversed.

Post-truth

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

The objective facts of the Grenfell fire can only be established by careful examination of the evidence by competent persons. In assessing those facts, real lessons can be learned, not only to prevent such a horror occurring but possible for people in social housing to be served better. What John McDonnell has achieved in his pronouncements, based on his blinkered prejudices, is to derive conclusions based on empty opinions and anger. As a result, any objective assessment that might show that non-Tory politicians share in the blame will be drowned out, along with the lessons about the limits of political competency.

Kevin Marshall

Appendix – John McDonnell’s Claims

McDonnell at Glastonbury 25th June 2017

Is democracy working? It didn’t work if you were a family living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower. Those families, those individuals, 79 so far and there will be more, were murdered by political decisions taken over recent decades. The decision not to build homes and to view housing as only for financial speculation rather than meeting a basic human need murdered those families. The decision to close fire stations and to cut 10,000 fire fighters and then to freeze their pay for over a decade. They were political decisions.

McDonnell Interview with NME – Grenfell Tower from 5.35

My Transcript, without editing.

We’re all angry. We’re all angry.

We are angry because we know the causes of that fire. You know, we know what we know that that the physical causes might have been a fridge that burst on fire, the cladding was wrong or .. that will come out at the inquiry, but I think we know roughly that what those causes are. But the real causes are decisions made by successive Tory Governments in particular. Who basically refused to build homes, in London in particular. And then housing then being used not for housing need but for speculative gain. And as a result you get people crammed into unsafe tower blocks and as a result people lose their lives. It’s a scandal, an absolute scandal.

We, we’ve campaigned over the years, for house building, council house building and investment in the housing program. Jeremy and I have been campaigning on that for nearly thirty years. In addition to that we have been campaigning for thirty years for safety. We were both members, in fact we set up the Fires Brigade Union Parliamentary Group that as far back as…. One speech I dug out was 2004 when I was calling for sprinklers as part of safety measures. So what we have said is when we go back into Government, first of all we will start building homes again. We have promised a million new homes. Half of them will be council houses. And that we tackle some of the housing crisis that we have got. Secondly we will ensure that we invest in our public services and that does to me making sure that homes are safe. Last year Labour put up an amendment to legislation which said that landlords should have a legal responsibility to make sure that their homes are fit for human habitation. That was voted down by Conservative MPs, 75 of whom were landlords. Absolutely disgraceful. So when we go back in we’ll build homes and make them safe.

McDonnell on Andrew Marr Show 17th July 2017 Grenfell from 10:35

Unedited Transcript

AM Do you regret saying that the people who died in the Grenfell tower were killed by political murder?

JMcD No I don’t regret that. I was extremely angry with what went on and I am a West London MP.  This site is not far from … Political decisions were made which resulted in the deaths of these people. That’s a scandal.

AM But murder means a specific thing. Murder means a volition to actually kill another human being – intentional killing.

JMcD There is a long history in this country of concept of social murder where decisions are made with no regard to the consequences of that, and as a result of that people have suffered. That whats happened here and I am angry about that.

AM Do you regard it as murder?

JMcD I believe that social murder has occurred in this instance and I believe that people should be held accountable for that.

AM So who are the murderers?

JMcD I think that it has being a consequence of political decisions over the years that have not addressed the housing crisis that we have had. That have cut back on local government, so proper inspections have not been made. Cut back 11,000 firefighters jobs been cut as well. Even the investment in aerial ladders and things like that in our country.

Appendix – definitions

manslaughter
http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1209

  1. the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation or so-called “malice aforethought” (an evil intent prior to the killing). It is distinguished from murder (which brings greater penalties) by lack of any prior intention to kill anyone or create a deadly situation.

murder
http://dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1303

  1. the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.

Daniel Hannan on the selfishness of running a deficit and post-truth realities

In the latest Ici Londres production Dan Hannan looks at the morality of deficits.

Daniel Hannan starts by quoting Matthew 7:9-10

If the son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will you give him a serpent?

The passage goes onto to say the if you are evil, understand how to give good gifts to your children. By implication, to act for good, we must also understand how to act for the good, not just have the moral injunction.

Hannan goes onto say we do not run up large debts to bequeath to our children. Yet many impose a very different standard as voters, convincing themselves that they are being unselfish. By asking for more money from the State, whether to pay for care in old age or for a pay rise in the public sector, or remission of tuition fees, it might be a very good claim, but it is not an intrinsically unselfish claim, as they are asking for everybody else to chip in and pay for their cause. Conversely those who try to impose some fiscal discipline are deemed selfish. They are standing up for future generations. Austerity is not a random preference but a simple reality.

This is all pretty obvious stuff to anyone who understands basic morality and the slightest notion of finance. It is certainly within the understanding of anybody who has been brought up in a traditional British public school education. But I would suggest it is totally alien to the vast majority of the British public. This reason is described by a new word that entered the Oxford English Dictionary last month.

post-truth

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

The General Election campaign is a clear illustration of the domination of post-truthers in public life. There is no understanding of public finances, just mass beliefs that are not based on any moral tradition. The spread of the beliefs is on social media, driven by those who most forcefully and repeatedly express their ideas. People are wrong because they disagree with the mass beliefs and shouted down (or trolled in the electronic version) because of it.

In a post last month – General Election 2017 is a victory for the Alpha Trolls over Serving One’s Country – I concluded

It is on the issue of policy to combat climate change that there is greatest cross-party consensus, and the greatest concentration of alpha trolls. It is also where there is the clearest illustration of policy that is objectively useless and harmful to the people of this country.

Like with public finances, climate change is an where post-truthers dominate. Two examples to illustrate.

Consensus messaging

There is no clear evidence of an emerging large human-caused problem with climate and there is no prospect of action to reduce greenhouse has emissions to near zero. Instead we have a dodgy survey that claimed 97% of academic papers on an internet search matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’ expressed support (belief / assumptions) in the broadest, most banal, form of the global warming hypothesis. This was converted by Senator Bernie Sanders, in questioning Scott Pruitt, into the following:-

As you may know, some 97% of scientists who have written articles for peer-reviewed journals have concluded that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating problems in the US and around the world.

And

While you are not certain, the vast majority of scientists are telling us that if we do not get our act together and transform out energy system away from fossil fuel there is a real question as to the quality of the planet that we are going to be leaving our children and our grandchildren. 

The conversion from banal belief to these sweeping statements is not the fault of the Senator, though he (or his speech-writers) should have checked. Rather it is of lead author John Cook and his then PhD supervisor Cognitive Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky. Post-truthers will not recognize the glaring difference between the dodgy survey and the Senator’s statements, as it is appeals to emotion and belief that are primary in evaluating political realities.

Mitigating Climate Change

Dangerous climate change is allegedly caused by human greenhouse emissions. The proposed solution is to reduce those emissions (mostly CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels) to near zero. The key for policy is that emissions are global, yet most countries, covering over 80% of the global population have no primary obligation under the 1992 Rio Declaration to reduce their emissions. These developing “non-Annex” countries have accounted for all the in emissions since 1990, as shown in this graph.

The problem can be expressed in my First Law of Climate Mitigation

To reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, the aggregate reduction in countries that reduce their emissions must be greater than aggregate increase in emissions in all other countries.

All the ranting about supporting the Paris Agreement ignores this truism. As a result, countries like the UK who pursue climate mitigation will increase their energy costs and make life harder for the people, whilst not achieving the policy aims. It is the poorest in those policy countries who will bear the biggest burden and create comparative disadvantages compared to the non-policy countries. For the developing countries (shown in purple in the graph) to reduce their emissions would destroy their economic growth, thus preventing the slow climb out of extreme poverty still endured by the majority of people on this planet. In so doing we ignore the moral tradition from our Christian heritage that the primary moral concern of public policy should be the help the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized. Ignoring the truism and pursuing bequeaths a worse future for our children and our grandchildren. This is the same for climate change as for public finances. But in both cases it is the post-truth “reality” that prevent this recognition of basic logic and wider morality.

Kevin Marshall