16/06/2017 Newsnight


As tensions rise after the Grenfell Tower fire, has Theresa May misjudged the public mood? And what do the public think of her? Emily Maitlis presents.

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Down at the site of the fire - they're calling her a coward.


Can the Prime Minister prove to the protesters


in West London her government has listened and learned?


Within three weeks, people will be rehoused


I ask you again, do you accept, though, that you misread the public


You didn't go and meet residents and they really resented that.


This was a terrible tragedy that took place.


Tonight those demonstrations continue - one group have tried


And at Downing Street - all demanding answers.


I walked with them from Kensington town Hall to the tower and saw the


passion and the anger of people here.


And - reality check - it's just just one week


If there was an election next week, God forbid, who would vote for


So you switch now. -- so you've switched now.


We ask people in Enfield Southgate - which turned Labour this time -


what they make of the election result.


It was exactly a week ago that Kensington Town Hall


was recounting one of the tightest fought battles of


A seat that overturned a huge Conservative majority -


Today, it became the centre of protest as locals and residents


of the Grenfell Tower fire descended upon it to scream their anger -


demanding justice, information, and answers from government


Arrangements for survivors and evacuees in the borough


Powered by volunteers with little coordination from authorities.


Tonight, as more protests spread to the centre of London -


it felt like a bottle had been uncorked.


The heat of early summer, the anger of grief -


a potentially toxic combination for a government so fragile


John Sweeney has been in the thick of it all day and joins us.


What is the mood like where you are? Well, the situation here, it is


tense. I just walked past a candlelit vigil, many people


standing outside the church holding candles to the dead. But at the same


time there are shouts and there is a frenzy, police helicopter in the


sky. It is very very hard to convey just how angry people were. I went


on this march from Kensington Town Hall to the tower and there were


times when you could almost feel the anger over flow. This feels, I might


be wrong, but this feels toxic for the government of Theresa May. It


feels as though there is a vacuum with this situation and what happens


when a vacuum is created, not nothing, but people feel in and it


is dark. No question. The feeling on the march you described earlier, as


that is abated now? -- has that dissipated now? No, I don't want to


be overly pessimistic but I can't see this ending well. Simple problem


is, nobody knows how many people have died. I was speaking to someone


who was close to a firefighter and they will worry that actually there


could be refugee families from places like Somalia with lots and


lots of people in their family and so the numbers we are talking about,


possibly 70 dead, maybe 100, maybe more, no one knows. And while the


uncertainty happens and there are good reasons for the authorities to


be cautious and go step-by-step, to get the forensics right, which is


difficult, but that is fuelling anger and it feels as though nothing


is being done and Theresa May did not help. I've heard this again and


again. The difficulty right now, and there are people shouting at us, the


BBC is not popular, but today, this evening, I walked with the marchers


from Kensington Town Hall and this is my report.


Tonight, those who are grieving for the dead of the Grenfell


fire took to the streets of London's richest borough.


We outnumber the Conservative voters in this area two to one.


The election result here in Kensington was more


finely balanced than that, but the passion is real and raw.


High Street Ken tube is over there and we've just turned off


Kensington High Street and we are now on


The idea that there would be a big demo, a big angry demo in this part


of London a couple of weeks ago, it's extraordinary.


As the march turned north towards the tower the numbers grew.


The kids go to all of the schools round here.


Also on the march, this man, who lives in a tower block in south


London and fears what happened to the people of Grenfell Tower


They have put new cladding on our block and we have been unable


to find out the last three days if that cladding is safe.


I've had about eight hours sleep the last few nights.


Motorists hooted their support, tourists and shoppers


But, for the main, the police presence was very low-key.


So the tower in the background, the crowd is still pouring fast,


and it's hard to express just how angry these people are.


Politics has left Parliament and gone on the streets.


As light faded, passions seemed to ease but London's


The government was keen to get on the front


Sajiv Javid - the Communities Secretary -


promised nothing would be spared in an attempt to get those


This was the picture that did for George Bush's reputation, flying


over the devastation of hurricane Katrina, and ignoring the victims


and seemingly their plight, is this the picture which is going to have a


similar impact for Theresa May? Yesterday, not meeting the survivors


and the anxious, but meeting the security services. The fact that


today the Queen managed to visit only served to put more pressure on


Theresa May. Her Majesty is not the focus of widespread anger right now,


though. We want answers, and justice. Rightly or wrongly, Theresa


May has become just that. What we want, justice. Theresa May is joined


in the dock by Kensington and Chelsea Council. We have a right to


be angry, and we have got to come out and say this is not acceptable.


Enough is enough. We need to be angry, because there's reason not to


be angry, because children have died. Families have died. A protest


this afternoon included people storming to the town hall reception


and a stand-off on the stairs. We want justice. We want justice. What


you get is a strong sense of anger, not simply about what happened in


Grenfell Tower although that is obviously the focus of the


demonstration, but it is more about the power relationships and who is


in charge and how they treat people who are dependent on them for their


lives and their livelihoods. What we heard today time and time again is


that the authorities are not being honest and they are holding


information back and they are trying to minimise the official death toll.


Nearly 100 persons missing, a lot of people asking, did you see this


person, did you meet him, have you heard about him. People are lost.


They don't know if they are in the hospital 's or they are dead or they


are in the building. The Prime Minister attempted to answer her


critics today with a visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to


meet survivors. Strong and stable leadership or just stable door


locking. Because when that wasn't enough to satisfy her critics, the


Prime Minister's team organised another visit, this afternoon to a


church near the tower, now a centre for the relief effort, but this did


little to calm the anger. And then you are going to come down after


people forced you to be here. And then you are going to hide behind


that red door. Why go to the same place Jeremy Corbyn wins 24 hours


before? It is a publicity stunt and the newspapers like The Daily Mail


will show that to show that she has heart and soul, but she is cold like


a fish, ridiculous. If you care, show that you care. Where is the


housing minister and the Home Secretary? We need you to talk, I'm


not trying to blame anyone, but show you care, be around. The council


have not shown anything, where are they? We are going to talk about


things that happened, and make sure this doesn't happen again, but this


has happened now. The Prime Minister's departure was chaotic


from the church. Shouts of murderers and coward and at one point her


car's departure was blocked and the police had to intervene. The way was


cleared just in time. She might have managed to leave the area but


neither she all the government or the Council Arkley of the


controversy surrounding this disaster -- she or the government.


Well, this evening - in a very unusual move -


and with next to no notice - Downing Street informed us


the Prime Minister would be arriving here at the BBC to do an interview.


Theresa May was announcing a comprehensive package


of support for the victims - including a ?5 million fund


made available to pay for emergency supplies,


I sat down with the Prime Minster earlier.


Prime Minister, you've come here today to the BBC,


instead of doing the interview at the site where you just


Well, what I want to talk about today is what the government


is making available to the victims of this absolutely


I think we were all, when we saw the horrific scenes


of what had happened at Grenfell Tower, we were all


It's absolutely horrifying and I've been hearing stories today


I've also been hearing from the local community,


about the issues and concerns that they have.


Now, the government is making ?5 million available, emergency


Just to get money to be able to buy normal things of everyday life.


This morning I was in one of the hospitals meeting some


One of the women said to me, basically she ran out


of Grenfell Tower in a T-shirt and a pair of knickers.


That is why the government is putting that funding in.


There are other things we will do as well to provide support


for people to ensure they are rehoused


But immediately we need to make sure people have the help they need.


There is a need for the public to hear you say in words of one


syllable, something terrible has happened, something


"It is our fault, we acknowledge that and we accept responsibility".


This is an absolutely awful fire that took place.


People have had their homes destroyed.


They have fled for their lives with absolutely nothing.


Do you accept that you misread the public mood on this one?


You misread the anger that people feel about this.


They shouted coward you this afternoon when you left St Clements.


What I have done since this incident took place,


first of all, yesterday, ensure that public services had


the support that they needed in order to be able to do the job


they were doing in the immediate aftermath...


Prime Minister, this is Friday evening, they needed those things


People we spoke to were housed for one night and didn't know


where they would spend the next night.


And were not told anything by anyone.


What I have done today is ensured that we are as a government putting


that funding in place for people in the area.


This has been an absolutely terrifying experience.


When are they told where they are going to be housed?


It has been a terrifying experience for people.


This is why, when I've heard stories, I heard stories yesterday


from the emergency services about the issues around the fire,


that is why I came straight back to Downing Street and I ordered


And we'll make sure that takes place as soon as possible to get


This is not just about finding what happened.


This is not just finding out who is responsible for what happened.


It's about ensuring that support is there, here and now.


Any other tragedy, flooding, you would have had the Army there,


I was there on the ground, I saw the chaos myself.


There was no one willing to accept responsibility.


We are making sure that support is put in place the people.


That means that money should be made available and we have...


One of the things I have just heard from people is about making sure


that that money actually get through to people.


Because we have to, as government, make the money available.


I want to make sure that people actually get that money


in their hands so they can go and buy the things that they need.


But they are being rehoused outside the borough,


in places they don't know, don't live, don't have


We are committed to making sure the people are rehoused as far


as possible within the borough or in neighbouring boroughs.


Some people may actually want to go to another part of London


where perhaps they have a greater support network, where they have


We are making sure that within three weeks people will be rehoused


Do you accept, though, that you misread the public mood


You didn't visit the residents and they really resented that.


This was a terrible tragedy that took place.


People have lost their lives and others have lost everything.


All their possessions, their home and everything.


What we are doing is putting in place the support


I have heard horrifying stories from the Fire Brigade, from the police,


and from the victims themselves who were in that fire,


but also from other local residents, some of whom, of course,


have not been able to go back to their homes either.


What I'm not actually focused on is making sure that we get that


As I say, government is making money available and we are making sure


that we're going to get to the bottom of what's happened


and we will make sure that people are rehoused.


But we need to make sure that that actually happens.


In 2013 a coroner had safety recommendations which included


putting sprinklers in all these buildings and it was never done.


There were two types of material that could have been


used in the cladding, one was flammable


We have yet to find out what because of the fire was.


You could have stopped it spreading by spending ?2 more.


The Fire Service are looking at what because of the fire


was and it's important that we get to the bottom of this, that we find


You were in government and the coroner said you can stop


this with a sprinkler system in every block.


And the government has taken action on the recommendations


But what we need to do in relation to this incident,


to this horrifying fire, is to make sure that we get


to the bottom of why is fire took place, what happened,


why did it spread so unexpectedly and so ferociously.


But we know Gavin Barwell sat on a report from last October,


He knew about these recommendations then.


The government acted on recommendations from


But what we need to do is make sure that information to this fire we do


The Fire Service will look at what it was that immediately


happened, but beyond that, the public inquiry will get to


the wider issues of responsibility in relation to this.


Around the country there are 4000 other high-rise blocks.


There are many, many residents tonight wondering what kind


When will you be able to tell them that they are safe


The government is doing everything in its power to make sure


We've identified those buildings and over the weekend,


now and over the weekend, people are going in and


We will do everything in our power to make sure that people are safe.


Does it have to be a culture where you start putting health


and safety first instead of cutting corners?


What we need to do is to make sure that immediately people


have the support that they need in order to deal with what is


a horrific and terrible circumstance that people are in.


We then also need to look at how this happened, why it happened,


And if action needs to be taken, we will take it.


And we should say the government says it did act on the coroner's


recommendations following the Camberwell tower fire by writing


to social housing landlords asking them to consider fitting sprinklers


It also says it has been consulting on revised building regulations.


It will be a while before we know for sure what caused


the Grenfell Tower fire and what led it to consume the building


But already questions have been asked about the cladding applied


Newsnight revealed on Wednesday that it contained plastic


and was less fire resistant than others available.


Our producer Phil Kemp has been investigating possible


Yesterday we heard from the fire protection Association about their


concerns used in Malta construction and the fire risk they pose. That


isn't just the cladding. -- used in their construction. This


polyethylene core which is less fire resistant than other types


available. But also the plastic insulation, the foam which sits


between the wall and this cladding. There has been a push in recent


years to make these apartment buildings more energy efficient. All


over the country. But in doing that and with the best of intentions it


seems we may have introduced a new fire risk. Interestingly, I spoke to


the fire Chief of Frankfurt. Frankfurt is a city with lots of


high-rise buildings. He told me these types of combustible products


simply could not be used in high-rise buildings in Germany. They


haven't been used for years. It's also the case in Germany that they


do not use lots of products we use here that have a particular fire


retardant because of the toxic chemical it gives off when it is on


fire that are potentially lethal to people. Different standards between


what we do here and in Germany. You talked about the cladding. But


this might also be something internal to the buildings.


I spoke to another expert this morning. He was telling me that in a


block like Grenfell Tower all of the fronts of the flats have to be fire


safe doors in their own right. And they also have to be self closing.


That is because if a fire breaks out in a flat it'll contain it and stop


it from spreading throughout the block. We know there has been an


issue with other blocks owned by the same company. This might be relevant


in the Grenfell Tower case because there was smoke in the stairwells.


We've also heard the story of a neighbour who is able to look


straight into the flat were apparently a fridge exploded. The


expert I spoke to said that suggests there might be a problem with the


self closing door in that case. What is emerging now is the possibility


that there is a combination of different factors. Both internally


and externally that might be coming together in a perfect storm to lead


to this devastating fire. Thank you very much.


Extraordinary to think this time last week the nation was just trying


to get to grips with an election result very few had seen coming.


A week on there is still no official deal between


the Conservatives and the DUP - but there are very few Conservatives


willing Theresa May to go - so loath are they to contemplate


We went to a marginal seat in North London -


where many voters abandoned the Conservatives to


I was keen to find out what they had been voting for -


and how they viewed the result we ended up with.


David, I'm going to start with you, because you voted for the first


time this time round, what was it that made you vote,


Being 18 now, just two weeks after Brexit, I seemed to miss that.


A lot of young people my age, me, as well,


There was a lot of decisions being made that we had no option


And it would affect us more than the older people who got


So, to vote in this election was very important,


because it actually, this time, seemed like


I voted for my local MP, and I do also think Jeremy Corbyn


is good as a leader of the Labour Party, yes.


I wanted him to be Prime Minister more than I wanted Theresa May


Mark, I'm going to come to you, what was it that pushed you to vote?


So, my priorities in this vote was who's going to be the next


And I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of Jeremy Corbyn


being the next leader in Downing Street.


And the reason for that is because there have been instances


of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.


And I just don't think Jeremy Corbyn has done enough to tackle


that and to put people from my community's mind at ease.


So, for me it was largely about the leader.


I'm not necessarily a Jeremy Corbyn fan, but I do think


And I think for the first time, maybe in my voting life,


there was a distinction between real socialism and Tory politics.


And I felt like in new Labour they went so right of centre


in order to capture the vote, the first time there really


was a choice, I'm a socialist, of voting for socialist principles,


Louise, when you hear people talking about, you know,


a politician with integrity, versus the one that you voted for,


Theresa May, or your local MP, what does it say to you?


I personally feel Theresa May does have integrity.


She is somebody who I prefer to other Tory politicians.


She came from a grammar school background, not public school.


But probably, security is on my mind at the moment.


I've got three daughters growing up in this world, I live in London,


I didn't feel comfortable, and when we talked about leader


versus party, I didn't feel comfortable with Jeremy Corbyn


Theresa May seems to be taking a very strong hand.


Can I ask who else had terror in their minds,


or the response to terror when they voted?


I think in Labour's manifesto, talking about putting more


into public security in terms of policing, things like that,


that is what is going to counterterrorism.


Not what things like Theresa May did by cutting police,


cutting national security, if they had five, ten warnings


about things that happened recently because of cuts.


How many people voted Labour over terror but for different


reasons to security, about public service cuts.


Madeleine I want to come to you, because you were wavering right up


until the moment when you put the cross in the box.


For the first time in quite a few elections I actually


got into the booth and, I have to say, I was wavering,


where to put my cross, Conservative or labour.


I went Conservative because I think we need continuity.


I'm not sure if it was the right thing to do even now.


Labour did get in in our constituency.


There is the NHS, which is a big thing for me.


All of those issues, there are so many issues,


Can I ask how many people had Brexit on their mind?


We were told at the beginning that this was a vote about Brexit.


How many people went to the polls thinking about Brexit


I did think about it, I really actually was happy with the result,


because I think the Conservatives need to get on with it.


So, for me, the fact that they don't have a huge majority


is going to make it difficult to push through some


Let them get on with this Brexit, because I want to see how


Let me just ask you now with a show of hands,


who feels they got the outcome from this election that they wanted?


Interesting, so we've got one, two, three, four, five, OK.


Let me ask the other way around, who feels it's a mess, where we are?


It is reflective of how split the country is.


John, you said out of chaos sometimes order emerges.


Madeline, that's not your sense of this at all.


I do feel a bit worried, I'm not a worrying person, really,


but I feel there is so much going on, there's so many issues


that need to be solved, and I wanted a continuation of something.


I'm not sure if it is going to happen now.


But by voting Tory I just thought keep it as it is for


And to let Theresa May go through with the Brexit she has


I'm not sure she can deliver it, but we shall see.


For you as a Conservative, either of you two, do you feel


I don't not trust her in terms of her character or her integrity.


She took an awful lot for granted and certainly has egg on her face.


And that bothers me that she has weakened our position in terms


Although we had Jean-Claude Juncker saying he doesn't...


You know, she's obviously the laughing stock over in Brussels.


But I just, I hope we can get some stability soon and in order


to type up the Brexit deal she's promising us.


Do you resent this, Mark, as a, sort of, election?


Do you feel she's put you, as a conservative voter,


I just think it was very unnecessary.


I know it's easy to say that in hindsight, but at a time


when you need complete stability, there was just no


I think it was a really bad error of judgment.


Of the ones who voted Conservative, which of you like Theresa May


as much, or more, than you did before the election?


I didn't find her a hugely warm character.


When she appeared on the One Show, it was embarrassing.


So, what is the bit that you warm to?


The confidence she gives me in the way she's going to continue


Let me ask the Labour voters, which of you like Jeremy Corbyn


as much or more since you voted, or since the election?


I've liked him since I saw him as a local MP


Do you think this is just about who won and who lost,


not in actual numbers, but in terms of who was seen


to have a good campaign, and who wasn't having


I think this is something that doesn't necessarily just come


I personally support Jeremy Corbyn because this


is a process, this is a great, and what he represents


It is a shift from this, kind of, establishment politics to something


which is more for the community, the bottom, the people.


Who here thinks Brexit won't actually happen now?


Just a softer version than what she wanted.


It is this word that hangs there, Brexit, what does it mean?


When it happens we will have a list of things that our policies


If we all turn against it all of us in this room say, no,


that's going to affect my mum, the children, that's going to affect


We can't have that happen to our country.


I think that Britain will be outside the EU paying all the same


fees for all the same privileges they have.


They will not be part of Europe because we voted to be out of it.


Does everyone agree with Paula on this one?


But they are going to have to pay for it, because how can you trade,


OK, let's have a look at domestic agenda.


If there was one issue that really...


Caught hold of you during this election, in domestic terms


come away from Brexit, what was it?


Last question, if there was an election next week,


Who would vote for a Conservative other than Theresa May?


If I said Boris Johnson, would you put your hand down?


I was voting for Labour policies, not Jeremy Corbyn,


but he is the leader, but I think it is about


We need somebody inspirational to push it forward, but it should be


I think it is a shame that we focus on the personalities of the leaders,


It's what they do, not what they've said.


It sounds like we should take this on to the pub now.


Well a lot of the anger that we've been seeing today has been


from friends and relatives who want to know what has happened


The tower is now a burnt out shell - and the site of a criminal


investigation, and toxic and strucutually unsafe.


So how do they even begin to make sense of what actually happened


in here on Tuesday night and how long will it be before forensic


teams are able to provide answers as to who lost their lives inside.


Lessons can be learnt from the aftermath of the 9/11


One of the forensic pathologists of that catasrophe


was Dr Judy Melinek - who joined me earleir


I asked her what she had learnt then that could be shared with us now.


A thorough investigation is not something that


It takes weeks and even months, and sometimes up to and including


years in order to get to the bottom of what happens.


In the immediate aftermath, first and most importantly,


the people who are responding and the supervisors in charge need


to make sure that the structure is sufficiently safe and sound


so that first responders who are going in there and those


who are charged with the recovery of the remains are safe, as well,


And the next step would be to collect important information


About their ways to identify them, either identifying marks


or scars, jewellery, tattoos and also collect DNA.


And how difficult you think it will be to collect DNA?


The most important thing is that we don't know at this


particular point what the condition of the remains are.


There could be a whole discrepancy between people who are intact,


but just suffered from smoke inhalation, compared to people whose


And a situation such as this you can have difficulty because,


for example, in 9/11 we could get exemplar asked from the deceased.


Or we could get the underwear of the person who is missing.


And use that to compare them to the person.


It easier to compare self to solve than to compare self to next of kin.


And so in this particular situation, you've got people who are dead


within their residencies, all of their personal


property basically went up in flames with them,


and so it seems that most likely the analyses are going to have to be


to next of kin relatives, and that's more difficult.


Am I right in thinking that in the Twin Towers, some 40%


The reason for that is because of the forces at play


in that particular incident where you had jet fuel.


You had fires that went on for months.


We don't have exactly the same scenario here,


so I'm hopeful that DNA analysis will be more fruitful


This will be devastating news to many of the families.


And they will want to know what happens if they don't get


In the United States for 911 victims who were not identified


based on their bodies, there was a legal process put


into place, a judicial process, where the person was declared dead


and a death certificate was created so that the families


could then have closure, close-out financial concerns,


and move on, even though the body parts had not yet been identified.


And if and when DNA analysis occurred at a later time those data


points were merged with the death certificate that was put


At least the death certificate allows the family to move on.


Even when remains are taking longer to identify.


You started by saying that the key was communication.


Do you think authorities have explained fully enough here just how


lengthy and difficult a process this will be?


I think it is important that they set up a command centre


and that they have public relation staff who are on hand to be able


Typically what happens is we will set up a family centre


separate from the coroner's office so that the families can go


And in this particular situation you have people who are in need


So that can all be centralised and you can use that family centre


as a repository for also collecting information about the deceased


and people who are missing, and also exemplars for DNA analysis.


And, some rampages. The same story but reported with different leads --


before we go, I will go through some of the front pages. The protest


moves onto the street. The Daily Telegraph, militants hijacked the


protest, they have accused them of exploiting it. This headline, it was


murdered. And there is a tale of two photos with the Queen and Theresa


May. That's all from us at the end


of a week - and a fortnight - that will be remembered in this


country for a very long time. It is a dry, settled and sunny story


for many of us this weekend, hardly a cloud in the sky across much of


England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some sunshine in eastern Scotland,


but the far north-west remaining cloudy and down at times, but by the


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