In a blistering Brits performance, the newly crowned Best British Male artist, Stormzy, directed his frustration at the mistreatment of Grenfell’s residents towards the PM, Theresa May.
There has been vocal unease from all corners of society over the government’s lack of action following the fire that took 71 lives last June. A taste of what was to come arrived when in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy leaders of the political parties visited the chaos. As Jeremy Corbyn met with the devastated residents, Theresa May stood awkwardly across the road, talking with her aides and briefly with the fire brigade services.
The backlash to her snub to the residents was fierce but short-lived. People forgot. But as the days and months stack up, with no justice in sight for those survivors displaced by the incompetency of the council supposed to be helping them, the public’s voice of anger is growing.
Now a figure through which that voice of protest can be channelled has emerged. Stormzy took the Brits by storm, not for his impressive haul of accolades, but for the ferocious passion of his attack on those responsible for the torment of the survivors of the blaze.
“Yo Theresa May where’s that money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals.”
With that line, Stormzy brought the debate right back into the mainstream, with every news site reporting on the freestyle’s message and the majority applauding his visceral approach.
A far less impassioned defence of the PM arrived from a spokesperson for Number 10, claiming £58.29m had been provided by the government for the survivors. This is a half-truth, the sum is the total that will be made available to the survivors through rehousing schemes, mental and emotional support and other forms of retribution, however, it is not clear how much of that money has actually been spent.
The fact remains that more than 100 households, displaced by the fire, spent Christmas in a hotel, as no permanent accommodation had been found for them.
The performance was memorable for its delivery, and the rain falling on Stormzy’s head acted as a painful reminder of the glaring absence of a potentially life-saving sprinkler system in the Grenfell tower. Its imagery stood in contrast to a song with a very similar message from fellow UK artist Dave.
In the song Question Time Dave rattles off a series of rhetorical questions and damnations on the Tory government. “At Grenfell tower your response was ridiculous, you hid like a coward”, is the blunt line Dave shoots off in a verse. Stormzy and Dave’s boiling over-represent the epitome of activism in an otherwise underwhelmingly inactive art.
In the words of Stormzy, it is now the duty of those who seek justice for the Grenfell fallen, as well as the survivors to “stay woke.”