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The Death of Diana & #GrenfellTower - the same "popular anger", appropriated grief, media persecution and rewriting of history

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 17 June 2017

As the Queen wandered among the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy yesterday I could not help wonder at what a really very good human being she is. I write as a diehard republican but I cannot help but but admire Elizabeth Windsor. And everyone else seems to do so too. My mind then went back a couple of decades to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. How differently the Queen was viewed - for a few days at least - back then but how the mood was so similar.

The Queen did not cause the death of Diana. And though she was probably not Diana's greatest admirer her grief was genuine and sincere. But the crowds, whipped up by the media and cynical politicians on the make, wanted someone to blame. Prime Minister Blair cried and appropriated private grief for the nation. Just as Comrade Corbyn has done in Kensington this week. Like the Queen twenty years ago, Prime Minister May has got on with her job. She is as upset and harrowed by events as the rest of us but Mrs May does not do touchy-feely for the cameras. And so once again she is being blamed. Angry protesters accuse her of murder and the media eggs on them on. Joined by Corbynista agitators they march on Downing Street and demand that which a democratic election failed to give them, regime change.

We also rewrite history. Diana had very many good qualities but was no angel. She was far from perfect but in the days after her death it was impossible to challenge the assumption that the people's princess was anything other than a better looking version of Mother Theresa.

And thus with the popular press having vilified the Syrian refugees, Asian families of seven living on welfare and other folks who lived in Grenfell Towers we are now lectured for the way that we all put them there. There was a talentless black artist who lived and died in Grenfell Towers. Her lack of talent meant no-one bought her art and so she lived in a council tower block. All of a sudden she was a great young talent waiting to be discovered. Whatever. History must be re-written as it was twenty years ago.

Of course someone is to blame for what happened at Grenfell Towers as there was someone to blame in Paris. But those demanding answers NOW and attacking Mrs May for not giving them are just part of this terrible frenzy of mawkish and, in most cases, appropriated grief and whipped up anger. In due course the contractors, the council, the local Labour MP who appears to have sat on the management board and done sweet FA about residents' concerns, will all have questions to answer.

Mrs May is a hopeless PM and even more hopeless party leader. I had hoped she's be gone by now. But not over her role in this tragedy for she had no role. In due course the mood will change as it did with Diana. The outbursts of Lily Allen and David Lammy MP and demands by Jeremy Corbyn to seize private property will be seen as silly and unpleasant for that is what they are.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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