#GrenfellTower : Did council leaders sacrifice the people to save numbers?

I wonder how many of those in management positions at Kensington and Chelsea borough council have ever listened to what Simon Sinek says about leaders who make you feel safe.

Peppered with military analogies, Simon’s talk makes the point that bad leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers, the converse of what good leaders do.

What we know today is that the numbers, amounting to some £300 million pounds have been saved by reducing fire services and limiting expenditure on safety measures. Even where it came to cladding Grenfell Tower, there was a saving of £2 a panel.

Mnay years before, another far less prominent observer, wrote of the neoliberal economy:

“Modifying the output of capitalism is the only method available to resolving the problem of capitalism where numbers trumped people — at the hands of people trained toward profit represented only by numbers and currencies rather than human beings. Profit rules, people are expendable commodities represented by numbers. The solution, and only solution, is to modify that output, measuring profit in terms of real human beings instead of numbers.”

It was also a warning about social unrest, from those disenfranchised:

“When in self-defense mode, kill or be killed, there is no civilization at all. It is the law of the jungle, where we started eons ago. In that context, ‘terrorism’ will likely flourish because it is ‘terrorism’ only for the haves, not for the have-nots. The have-nots already live in terror, as their existence is threatened by deprivation, and they have the right to fight back any way they can.”

In 2004, it was the government led by Tony Blair who he called on for support:

“Traditional capitalism is an insufficient economic model allowing monetary outcomes as the bottom line with little regard to social needs. Bottom line must be taken one step further by at least some companies, past profit, to people. How profits are used is equally as important as creation of profits. Where profits can be brought to bear by willing individuals and companies to social benefit, so much the better. Moreover, this activity must be recognized and supported at government policy level as a badly needed, essential, and entirely legitimate enterprise activity.”

He had the opportunity to say it from a lectern in 2010, when presenting to the opening plenary of the International Conference on Economics for Ecology in Sumy Ukraine

In 2010 he was also interviewed about his efforts in Ukraine as the founder of a business for social benefit, where the focus of his work had been disabled children, left to die in remote locations:

“Limiting the financial return of a social business to return on investment (ROI) can help balance the company’s blended focus on profit and mission, says Terry Hallman, CEO of a U.K.-based social business addressing poverty relief and reformed childcare in the former Soviet Union.”

Ultimately it cost him his life, as civil rights leaders from Maidan reported on discovering his body in 2011. Their article included appeals to US government for support with his anti-corruption efforts with a particular focus on a ‘Marshall Plan’ to tackle social deprivation which was close to boiling over into violence.

In Ukraine, as far back as 2005, he warned of the risk of violent unrest and how economic hit men focussed on acquiring lucrative state assets were undermining the Tymoshenko government.

There’s little doubt in my mind that USAID and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which controls their funding left him hanging out to die. Were they saving numbers?

Within 3 years of his appeal, USAID joined forces with The British Council to deliver their own social enterprise development project in Ukraine. It was not done in collaboration with grass roots organisations like Maidan and KHPG described in his appeal but with the corporations owned by the most prominent Ukrainian oligarchs.

Here in the UK, social enterprise had been made government policy under the leadership of Tony Blair. Unsurprisingly given his neoliberal inclinations, much of it had been focussed on ‘rolling out’ public services, particularly those of local government. The real prize however would be privatising the NHS.

In 2014, as all that was warned of came to be realised with the beginning of military conflict in Ukraine. Who else but Tony Blair leading a panel discussion for one of their most prominent oligarchs, alongside a friend who is no stranger to stripping our NHS assets — Sir Richard Branson.

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