British left-wingers have been accused of hijacking the suffering of the victims of last week’s apartment block fire in London, which killed scores of people, to fuel a “day of rage” protest against the government.
Protesters are set to descend on central London today with the aim of fomenting resentment towards the ruling Conservative Party, which has been damaged by its unexpectedly poor showing in this month’s general election.
The event had been planned for weeks, but was given a hasty rebrand by opposition groups to capitalize on outrage over the Grenfell Tower fire in the borough of Kensington.
The huge blaze is known to have killed at least 79 people who lived in the west London public housing block. The final tally of deaths remains unclear.
It also caused enormous public outrage at apparently lax building standards which allowed the fire to destroy the entire 24-floor building. Left-wing groups marching today are hoping to harness to bolster their movement.
However, those linked to the fire victims have complained that their grief has been “hijacked” for political ends without the consent of victims themselves.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, two local church groups who have been active in distributing emergency support to victims of the fire said: “They do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means.”
Meanwhile one Facebook event page for the protest, hosted by Marxist group Movement For Justice By Any Means Necessary, was beset by complaints that it is ignoring the victims themselves.
One said: “There is a lot of anger locally that things are being done in Grenfell’s name and they’ve not had the time to even bury their family members.”
Another added: “You’re kidding yourself that this protest has anything to do with Grenfell. This is just a bunch of opportunistic lefties using a tragedy for political point-scoring.”
Meanwhile, some complained that the protest was putting an extra strain on London’s police, who are under exceptional pressure after the fire and two recent terror attacks in London.
Unlike in previous years, in 2017 the protest marches have been endorsed by the country’s leading left-wing politicians.
John McDonnell, the second most-powerful figure in the Labour Party after leader Jeremy Corbyn, encouraged the groups and told them the current government is “illegitimate” – despite it having the largest share of the vote and being run in accordance with parliamentary rules.
After significant external pressure, he reminded protesters to be peaceful, but the call for calm was met with scepticism in light of his past support for violent unrest.
It is unclear at present how many people are likely to show up for the protest.
Previous marches in London (like one in 2010, pictured above) have seen crowds of at least 30,000 people take to the streets, but subsequent efforts have struggled to match their scale.