PUSHBACK talks

London Calling. The New Hunger & Poverty in the UK - A Conversation with The Guardian’s Patrick Butler

November 06, 2020 WG Film Season 1 Episode 19
PUSHBACK talks
London Calling. The New Hunger & Poverty in the UK - A Conversation with The Guardian’s Patrick Butler
Chapters
PUSHBACK talks
London Calling. The New Hunger & Poverty in the UK - A Conversation with The Guardian’s Patrick Butler
Nov 06, 2020 Season 1 Episode 19
WG Film

The Filmmaker and The Advocate are joined by Patrick Butler, The Guardian’s Social Policy Editor. The trio discusses current social conditions across the UK as it continues to be hammered by the pandemic. In the world’s 5th largest economy, poverty, hunger and homelessness have burgeoned. So much so, that Manchester United footballer – Marcus Rashford – has stepped in, using his own history of poverty and his current clout to urge the Johnson government to provide food support for children. Butler’s sense is that while the pandemic has thrown the health and the economy of the country into disarray, it’s also having an interesting impact where housing’s concerned.  He’s seeing the lowering of rents in some areas, and a real slow-down of the financialization of housing. It’s left the government in a state of ‘existential shock’, scratching their heads as the market fails to sort everything out. 

Produced by WG Film 
Recorded & Edited by Mikey Jones
Music by Florencia Di Concilio
Social Media & Support Team - Louise Gustafsson, Maja Moberg & Melinda Bergstrand

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/pushbacktalks)

Show Notes Transcript

The Filmmaker and The Advocate are joined by Patrick Butler, The Guardian’s Social Policy Editor. The trio discusses current social conditions across the UK as it continues to be hammered by the pandemic. In the world’s 5th largest economy, poverty, hunger and homelessness have burgeoned. So much so, that Manchester United footballer – Marcus Rashford – has stepped in, using his own history of poverty and his current clout to urge the Johnson government to provide food support for children. Butler’s sense is that while the pandemic has thrown the health and the economy of the country into disarray, it’s also having an interesting impact where housing’s concerned.  He’s seeing the lowering of rents in some areas, and a real slow-down of the financialization of housing. It’s left the government in a state of ‘existential shock’, scratching their heads as the market fails to sort everything out. 

Produced by WG Film 
Recorded & Edited by Mikey Jones
Music by Florencia Di Concilio
Social Media & Support Team - Louise Gustafsson, Maja Moberg & Melinda Bergstrand

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/pushbacktalks)

Fredrik Gertten  0:12  
I'm Fredrik Gertten, and I'm the filmmaker.

Leilani Farha  0:14  
And I'm Leilani Farha. And I'm the advocate

Fredrik Gertten  0:17  
And Leilnai, you're also the former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, meaning that it's true this role you had in the film I made is like it's, you're not there anymore. You're not. You don't have you lost your un hat.

Leilani Farha  0:34  
Yes, I'm free.

Fredrik Gertten  0:35  
 You're free.

Leilani Farha  0:36  
liberated, last, liberated.

Fredrik Gertten  0:39  
Now, your the global director of the shift? So what is what are you doing today? This week, for example, what is happening?

Leilani Farha  0:47  
Well, a big thing happened this morning, which is 1400 families in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were evicted. They were living on lands, they had nowhere else to live Buenos Aires is a very expensive city. So they were living on public lands, I believe. And they were brutally evicted this morning, October 30th. And as it happens, I intend to go to Buenos Aires. Go, I'm putting it in quotes because of course, with the middle of this pandemic, we don't go anywhere. But we're, we were planning a trip, the shift was planning a trip to point aside days to visit virtually. And so now for sure, we will do that we're doing it in November.

Fredrik Gertten  1:31  
It's horrible. And this is like this is Buenos Aires. But this is happening in so many places around the world that people get evicted in the midst of of this pandemic, and and you are still this kind of global watchdog. So how do you...

Leilani Farha  1:47  
Trying to be. Trying to be. It's a lot of work. But you know, we need the global scale of the housing crisis requires a global response. And so I'm starting to work a little bit more with my successor, the new special rapporteur, but then the shift has its own role to play. So, yeah, it's a lot of work. What's going on with you, Fredrik, 

Fredrik Gertten  2:10  
I'm, I'm doing what we always do. Yesterday, I was talking to university in Norway to the students. And I mean, there's almost every day there is something I was doing a podcast to a film festival in Pittsburgh that is showing the film and you are in a panel last night. So it's like it's, it's the film is it's it's moving around it's cool. But today, we have a special guests. And this very special guest was actually leading our first panel. With push it was in Geneva to human rights Film Festival, and Patrick battler social policy editor at The Guardian in London. Welcome to push back talks.

Patrick Butler  2:56  
Hello. Hi, Frederick. Hi, Leilani. 

Leilani Farha  2:59  
Hi, Patrick.Welcome.

So we actually tried to make some kind of focus on United Kingdom that's what you say United Kingdom, even if you have a queen, I'm a little bit confused. But it's okay. That's how it works. So do you remember your first reactions when you saw push what kicked in for you?

Patrick Butler  3:18  
I was blown away actually by Push. I, what I loved apart from the kind of global scale of this, and I think when you're a journalist working almost entirely in one place, which my case UK, it's astonishing to see how your film kind of made it clear. This is a global problem of housing and homelessness, and it's sort of stitched everything together. So this is happening in Asia. This is happening in South America this is happening in New York, as well as London, and and, you know, Northern Europe. So I think it was for me, it was that sense of you'd really successfully managed to, to stitch everything together. And of course, it was brilliantly directed Fredrik, and Leilani, you had this fantastic presenter, really. Who had such energy on the screen and it just made it very, very human story.

Fredrik Gertten  4:20  
I think you're talking about Layla, his hairstyle isn't it? Sorry, bad joke, bad joke. I love your hair and your hairdresser actually has a credit in the film. So that seems important. But then we met in in London again, Patrick, for the UK release of the film, which was actually one week before everything closed down. So we actually had great reviews. The film was about to go out in many cities around the country. We had panels planned and but when you saw it again, did any anything new pop up for you or. A year later? 

Patrick Butler  4:59  
A year later I saw it again at yes at that film showing in central London. And I think I mean, of course, I thought it confirmed for me that this was a really powerful piece of filmmaking. But I mean, even then I remember beating and talking to you and that you're right. It was a week before lock down. And I think already people were there in the foyer of the cinema, we're kind of thinking, we're looking around at people sniffling and wondering, yeah, are we only on the brink of something here? And, and usually, we're, of course, at that time, you were jet setting all over the world, it seemed to me I was very envious of you. Because you know, you had a film. You had a film festival in Canada and Sweden and Norway, and you know, bear with me stuck in London. And it just felt like we were, I think we're getting first intimations that we were on the edge of something quite serious, and you're gonna be discussing, are we gonna be able to fly there next week when we get home in time. And so it felt quite auspicious.

Fredrik Gertten  6:04  
It was a special day. Patrick in in your reporting,  I mean, you're a very busy journalist and editor at The Guardian, you be looking into a lot of the of the poverty situation in the UK, it seems like you're in a in kind of a crisis right now in your country.

Patrick Butler  6:25  
I think we, we are, I think, what's what's really striking about what's happened in the UK. And let's be clear, what's happening in the UK has happened across the world, and certainly across the western world where economies have gone into rapid contraction. Lots of people have lost their jobs or working less. They're reliant on on social supports. And all these are common across the world. I think when I look at the UK, and how and the impact of Coronavirus and lockdown on the UK, I think what we're seeing is, it's the legacy of 10 years of austerity, where, in the UK context, what we've seen is, over the past decade, public spending has been cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. And I think what we're seeing is at this moment of crisis, some of the structures that we thought were just about still in place to help people in their hour of need, have become very fragile. Indeed,

Fredrik Gertten  7:30  
What I see from here is that this 22 year old footballer from Manchester United, Marcus Rashford, like a young black guy from Manchester, who makes 10 million pounds a year. He mounted a campaign and got 1 million signatures to food check to poor people, and also he made a lot of restaurants and cafes to, to give meals for free. But it's, it seems like it's an extreme situation, if he can feel it. If he can feel that stress around in his community. It must be it must be a big crisis.

Patrick Butler  8:11  
I think I think one of the great things one of the important things about Marcus Rashfords' campaign and, and there's no two ways about it, this is a stunning, phenomenal campaign by this incredibly articulate young man, who is also a billionaire footballer. It's the authenticity with which he speaks. So he's been very open about his own background. So he grew up in South West Manchester. And he grew up on a council estate and he had single Mum, and he had free school meals when he was a kid. And his mom struggled often to put food on the table. But you know, she made the sacrifices to do that when she could. And even though he's incredibly talented, and made this rapid rise to stardom, and global, we know, he hasn't forgotten his roots and where he came from. And I think it's that authenticity is one of the reasons why he struck such a chord. The other reason I think, why he struck such a chord is the tone with which he speaks that kind of politeness, the reasonableness, the appeal to people's better natures, comes I think it's real surprise to people. The thing you have to remember about the UK and particular England, is that we've become a very divided society. In recent years, we had Brexit leave remain bitter feuds between right and left, something we've seen all over the world of course, and, and I think what Marcus Rashford was able to do was cut through that kind of path. He's handshape, he kind of depoliticize this subject. Now we know ultimately, this is a political subject. But he was able to cut through that and appeal to all sides of the political spectrum on this. And he appeals to people's better nature as well. And people loved what he was able to do and asking him to do.

Fredrik Gertten  10:22  
How do you reflect on this Leilani

Leilani Farha  10:23  
One of the things that's so amazing about the Marcus Rashford voice, is that in my experience in the UK, al be it somewhat limited experience, but I did go and talk to a whole lot of people, after the Grenfell tragedy, people affected by the Grenfell tragedy, the survivors, and there's, there's been a long standing and consistent refrain from people living in poverty in the UK, that they do not have voice, they are not listened to, they are not there, they're treated as second class citizens, if citizens at all, etc. and and Marcus brings brings the voice of, as you say, this authentic voice of what it's like to live in poverty in a rich nation, like the United Kingdom, and of course, he has a racialized voice. So that's super important, too. So for me, I think, you know, it's, it's very scary to me where the United Kingdom is going, especially this whole, the rise of food banks, I live in a country where food banks came about as a result of neoliberalism in these the, as you say, the 10 year legacy for in Canada is a very much longer legacy of a kind of austerity or structural adjustment program in this country. And once you go down the food bank road, it's very the return from there is very difficult, I would say. But I do think that shining a light on this food issue in the UK, and, and it being done by a footballer, I think it's it's brilliant, actually,

Fredrik Gertten  11:58  
it's also a bit scary. Because I mean, here in Sweden, it's different. I mean, my dad was he went to the soup kitchen when he was a kid in the 30s. That's long time ago. It's actually his 91st birthday today. I just, talked to him. But I mean, for us, it would you know, foodbanks is like, it's nothing that happens here. Right? Every every kid has a school meal, you know, it's like, it's, it's still functioning. So hear it from a Western European country, like the UK that you you have 1 million people signing in that we need food to poor children, it's like It's unheard of. It's like, it's, it's scary. And it's also something that's in the news in the global news circle. It's not in there. You know, there is so many things that's cooking around, but it's all this kind of who's winning and the swing states and you know, and it's like, yeah, there's so much noise. So the real stories are not coming out. So it's cool that somebody actually breaks through. We met in London A long time ago when I was filming Push. And I remember we went to this I don't remember the area was was like this new, really big condo building shooting up. And remember, they didn't. They didn't. We were not allowed to film inside if it was a storm outside. But it was like, What was the name of that area?

Patrick Butler  13:23  
It's it's, it's Hoxton, which is very much sort of quite glitzy up market place with a kind of hipster legacy. But I suspect that most people who live in those houses, sorry, not houses my God, no, these are these great apartment blocks. I spent very few of them are hipsters they are too rich for that. 

Fredrik Gertten  13:46  
And I guess some of them are all for these dark towers. I mean, not not everybody's people don't even live there. But I also remember we went to a pub to make you were interviewing Leilani. And

Leilani Farha  14:00  
it I remember it and that it was so annoying. Yeah.

Fredrik Gertten  14:03  
But, but it was a pub that actually was saved by the clients. Because it was about to get kicked out. And then the clients really made campaigns. So the the lounge part of the pub went to be like an upmarket office. But then the pub was still running on a very small space. That's why it was so noisy. Leilani. But I mean, I remember when we talked about there was like almost a pub closing per week in the UK. It's a part of this financialized energy that happens in the UK. Is this still something that is you can feel that your country's changing thanks to this energy of money.

Patrick Butler  14:46  
Well, I think up to March. Things were going pretty much as they were before, you know, I think there was there was sort of unstoppable emotion towards the things that you just talked about. This financialization, the investment in these these huge anonymous housing blocks. And I just wonder whether that has stopped now. So what we have seen over the last six months is a disruption of  that trend. And I think it's probably too early to say yes, it's, it stopped. I suspect at the very top end where you're talking multimillion pound apartments in the very center of London, you know, your, your Kensington's and Chelsea's. And so I suspect, maybe not. What I do here is that as soon as you get out of the center of London to the edges, what you might call zone two in the, you know, the on the tube map zone, three rents, private rents are coming down. And this, this is quite interesting, often by up to 20%. And I think the reason is, of course, lots of people who were at the kind of climbing over each other to renting these places pay huge amounts of rent every month, were now furloughed, or they were told to work from home. And often rather than work from home in a overpriced London rental flat, they went home to their mom and dad's house, for example, or they decided we're going to move out of London altogether to somewhere much cheaper. So you have this phenomenon, 

Fredrik Gertten  16:31  
and then also the touristification I was about to say, I mean, the Airbnbs . Short term rentals is like a big chunk in every big city. So of course, if people are not coming to London, it's, it's changing things, too. Yeah.

Leilani Farha  16:45  
Yeah. I mean, I know, globally, we're seeing that a lot of those who own units, intended for the short term platforms like Airbnb and homeaway. Those are being converted into longer term rentals. My I think it's, I think it's super interesting. And I've heard, for example, that the cost of rentals is coming down in Manhattan as well. I mean, it's so expensive there that by coming down, even 10 or 20%, it's still unaffordable for most people. But still, it's an interesting trend. The question, I guess, is, you know, as we if we ever emerged from this nightmare, and let's hope we do, if there aren't tenant protections put in place, I think we might see a return to normal, in other words, okay, so those units will be occupied, but the ability for landlords to raise the rents will, will be still intact. And so as things emerge, and as economies pick up, we may just see the unaffordability happen again, you know, that's, that's my concern. So the question is, is there any political appetite for actually doing anything about that, you know, looking forward, and I don't know, in the UK, if you have a sense of, I mean, with the current government in place, whether that would be of a any concern to them.

Patrick Butler  18:03  
I think for the current current government, this is a kind of existential shock, because deep in the core of this government is an idea that the market is going to sort everything out. Deep, deep in this, this government is a sense that, I mean, we're talking about the people, lots of people who donate to the Conservative Party, are corporate landlords, or lots of MPs, we know have their own investments in in private housing. So I think I think you're talking about trying to change the mindset of a government that really thought that this was the natural order of things. And I think thinking newly about how we're going to do things in future. I don't think they're anywhere near thinking about that yet. What we have seen is that they have taken steps, thankfully, to delay evictions. So where people haven't been private renters haven't been able to pay rent because they've lost their job, or they no longer able to work, the hours that they did previously, their income has gone down. There's been a stay on the courts, being able to process eviction proceedings against them. Now, that's been pretty much put on hold since at least March. And it may now have been lifted. But of course, there's huge backlog. So it's gonna take a long time for people to for lots of people to reach the point where they're evicted. But at some point, they'r gonna have to address it.

Fredrik Gertten  19:39  
What about the local governments? Are they in London, for example? Is there any different action from them?

Patrick Butler  19:45  
I think local government, as I mentioned earlier, they've had 10 years where they've lost effectively 50% of their funding. So their spending power has gone down massively. So the percent Yeah, so Their ability to intervene meaningfully and for them, this is in two areas one is, is kind of investing in housing, which they've been prevented from doing for a long time. So particularly social housing, that's affordable housing, low rent housing. That's one thing that they have struggled to do. The other thing they have to do is support homeless people. And as we know, the last few years of the massive rise in numbers of homeless people. And again, they're struggling to provide the kinds of support for homeless people through the provision of temporary accommodation, for example, which they are legally obliged to do. So I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of good will on the part of local government, particularly in the big cities, because they know this is a massive problem. Homelessness is a growing problem. But how far they have the resources to do this is another question.

Leilani Farha  20:57  
Can I can I dig a little bit deeper, Patrick on this homelessness issue? Because when the pandemic struck, I was watching governments around the world, like what are they going to do? And I knew as soon as the World Health Organization said, the only prescription we can offer here, because we've got no medicine, is for people to stay home, wash their hands and physical distance. And most governments moved except for the government of Sweden, move quite quickly into that mode. That was the health policy of every level of government around the world. So I was watching, so we'll stay home. What does that mean for people living in homelessness? They can't stay home. And so I saw the UK Government Act quite swiftly. In fact, I think it was quick out of the gate quicker than most governments and what they did was they, at least in the City of London, I'll say, because that's what I was really just watching the City of London, peoples were put into hotels, for example, some people were housed at Heathrow. My question is what is going to happen? If you're saying councils have lost 50% of their funding, and they are responsible for helping people who are living in homelessness? So, I mean, this pandemic is not ending the numbers in the UK are a nightmare right now. What what's the plan? Do you know?

Patrick Butler  22:24  
Well, loudly All right. And I think it's to this government's credit, that it has taken homelessness seriously, particularly rough sleeping now, you know, there's a caveat to that, which is you wonder whether they are putting the kinds of resources into it that that it needs. But I think it's to this government's credit that it acted reasonably quickly after the pandemic started. And you're right, we have this, everybody in campaign where local government was funded to effectively put up all the rough sleepers it could muster on its streets, into hotels. And of course, hotels were empty, which helped. So, you know, I'm sure some of the hotel chains were were massively appreciative of this move. But this is what happened. And so for the first couple of months, you've had homeless people who were on the streets who now had somewhere to stay or be in a hotel room. What happened in I think it was probably around July, August time, when, in the UK, this is where we start to come out of national lockdown. And there's a loosening, General loosening people are kind of going out and about the government's thinking, My God, we're paying this costing us billions. And so all of a sudden, that's when the funding stopped. That's when people came out of the hotels. And by and large, and I think this probably felt Okay, at the time, because it was summer, we had a reasonably warm summer, but now it's autumn going into winter. And we've got a second wave. And I think the onus now is on the government to to act again. What is it going to do about people who are on the streets? And, you know, we don't really have a clear idea of how many rough sleepers there are in UK, but it's probably between 10 and 15,000. I think the official figures say it's about 5000. So it's a lot of people and and I'm not sure whether government is proposing to put them all up in hotels over Christmas, and I think it's going to be something to look at.

Leilani Farha  24:50  
I read something about some policy of deportation of people who are rough sleeping who are not UK nationals. So and I think that that represents not a not massive portion of the rough sleepers but a significant portion. I don't know the exact figure. But that's pretty worrying that right now I heard that they would use that as a last resort. But, I mean, that's certainly something to push against, or push back. Because that's, I imagine that I mean, you can imagine the circumstances under which someone arrives in the UK and ends up being a rough sleeper, and then to be returned back to their country in the middle of a pandemic seems, I don't know. 

Patrick Butler  25:39  
I think Well, yeah,  it's mean, but I think we have to see the politics behind this. And certainly the home office, which is the government departments in the UK, which is responsible for immigration, is very keen to constantly project that is being very tough on migrants. So at any opportunity, it's particularly if you've got to, you know, this is a classic, what they call the dead cat tactic, where, if you've got a raging problem, you know, like the pandemic, then you throw a dead cat on the table, and everyone is distracted from the main problem. And looks at the dead cat. 

Fredrik Gertten  26:23  
Shifting the focus is a classical technique of, of the powerful, and they have tons of really sharp Spin Doctors as a strong tradition of that in the UK, and we need to look out for when they are trying to shift the focus. And our job is, of course, to try to shift the focus back to the real stories, I have something else. Because you know, in the film, we go to a place that is now called elephant Park, it was before a big social housing estate called Heygate estate built in the 80s. But it was just taken down. I think that that borrow needed money, I don't know, it was something and so. So they actually evicted thousands, or I think 3000 people, and then they built this elephant Park. And when we were walking around, it was almost everything was standing empty. So it was sold in package. It's on on, on fares in Singapore, in Hong Kong, and so for people to invest money. So how is this? Is this a one time story? Or is this something that gets repeated that that borrowers are selling out their their social housing? Because they they need money? Or how what is happening there right now?

Patrick Butler  27:48  
Well, I think one of the interesting things about the pandemic is that it has forced people, policymakers, especially to, to re examine certain issues. And obviously, housing is a clear one here. And I think it's probably fair to say that on balance, people are beginning to re recognize the importance of social housing. And they're beginning to recognize that you just can't leave this to the market. So I think you have the government as well as the opposition, talking about the importance of social housing, or at least affordable housing, which in a way, you know, we began to realize this was a problem, as you know, but I think it's the past six months, which are really concentrating minds on this. And I think it's not just housing, but it's across the board. And one of the things I wanted to talk about, which, again, takes us back to, to poverty is one of the striking things about the last six months in the UK, is how this crisis, this standard of living crisis has hit a cohort of people who, up to now had never felt poverty had never been dependent on welfare benefits to survive. The kind of, you know, middle income, lower middle class, people who have previously good jobs, who all of a sudden have found themselves dependent on on the state and dependent on food banks, and worrying about how to pay the rent. And I think that may change the dial politically. So poverty is not just this thing that happens to these other people over there, who, you know, are feckless, and lazy, and it's all their own fault. I think people are beginning to get a different perspective on this. Now, just to give you a really fascinating example. I spoke to an airline pilot a few weeks ago, who, of course, his industry was Absolutely decimated in March, that's an airline pilot. And he said to me, like, I my work dried up over night, I had, you know, I had to pay my mortgage, I had to pay this, I had to pay that I applied for Universal Credit. I didn't get it because I was earning too much, or you had too much in savings. And he said, you know, I had all this downtown time, I started looking into this. And I realized the British Social Security system is in really bad shape, isn't it? I've never thought about this before. That that, I think is the transformation that could happen is that it's bringing millions people in to realize just how fragile you know, life can be and just how important having some kind of Social Security social insurance system is.

Leilani Farha  30:57  
That's pretty sobering. And do you think, Patrick, it's that this is much deeper and broader than the global financial crisis in O, eight and o, nine,

Patrick Butler  31:06  
It feels. It's difficult says that. I think this feels much more universal in its impact. So I think we've, I think, going back to 2008, 2009. I think just talking to people about that, I think you saw certain sections of the economy really badly hit. But there was no sense of it being, you know, a national lockdown, there was no sense of it being this grave recession, there seemed to be an element of normal. I mean, people could still go about their lives. Normally, notwithstanding, you know, they they had problems, the economy was still functioning normally. And I think what's different about this as it goes wider, and it goes deeper. And but I think, you know, the scars will, you know, will be will last for quite few years. 

Fredrik Gertten  31:59  
One thing we talked about, I mean, regarding the 2008 crisis is that it's bad news for us, is also sometimes good news for others talking about the private equity in the hedge funds. So, I mean, I guess it's not happening already. But can you see that, that there are forces that will take advantage of the situation now that way, even more change the power balance in your society?

Patrick Butler  32:28  
I would say this is not an area of expertise for me. But I would say there are indications out there. I mean, I was hearing this morning, that the the increase in profits for people like Amazon, for example, have been astonishing, over the last six months. And obviously, that's partly to do with their business model, which has been able to capitalize on the fact that people can't go to shops so easily. But it does seem to me that there will be people out there who have a huge amount of capital to invest and who will see opportunities in the crisis. Now, I'm not close enough, just to see whether that's actually happening. But yeah, for sure, you know, in housing. If it turns out that we have, for example, a lot of a lot of private landlords in this country are kind of, you know, one man one woman bands where they've they've, they've taken out a loan to buy a flat alongside their own house. And if they can't get if they can't cover their mortgage payments on that second flat, for whatever reason, because you know, that they can't charge the same rates, they're forced to sell, well, it'd be a glut of properties coming on the market, who's gonna buy those, you know, so I guess it's there will be opportunities. And as you say, you know, it may not go the way that we particularly want it to go, 

Fredrik Gertten  34:05  
No. Okay, we're running out of time. But there is one thing that I would just a quick one, you know, of course, we also met outside Grenfell, this social housing 72 people died. And, and it's been a big, big issue in the UK, like a big scar in the soul of the nation in some way. Can you see that this horrific happening is changing something in the policies of your country now, that the memory of Grenfell?

Patrick Butler  34:37  
This is an interesting one is because my views are slightly shaped by being in the media where you have this fast turnover of issues. So you know, there's Grenfell and austerity but then there's Brexit. And after Brexit comes the Coronavirus crisis which just takes over Everything. And I think it's important that we don't forget Grenfell and and what it stood for, and the causes of that. And, you know, certainly the Guardian is diligently sort of reporting the ongoing public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster. So we are seeing some interesting findings coming out in those hearings. Now, whether or not people will still remember, the significance of this four or five years on outside, that group of people who are directly affected is going to be an interesting one, simply because there is so much competing for people's sort of eyeball space, their bandwidth. And but I think what the signet I think one of the things about cranfill is people don't forget, because it was such an awful, terrible symbol where you, all you need to do is see those clips on YouTube of that, that tower blazing away. And it reminds you so I'm hopeful that we won't forget the lessons of Grenfell. But, you know, so much happens so quickly. 

Fredrik Gertten  36:15  
So it's a little bit up to us to to keep Grenfell something that we shouldn't forget.

Patrick Butler  36:21  
Exactly. 

Leilani Farha  36:22  
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, there is a movement of all the people in the UK, living in buildings with that cladding on the front of their buildings. And so in that way Grenfell will be remembered and kept alive because they're fighting tooth and nail to have that cladding removed, but but not at their own expense, because they're not able to afford to paid for the removal of that cladding. So, I mean that way, and I also wonder if there isn't a broader thing that might happen, where folks who are really struggling, start banding together a little more. So the folks who survive Grenfell start banding together with the folks who are really suffering poverty, and exclusion in UK society as a result of the pandemic that will be interesting to see if there's some sort of cross mobilization.

Patrick Butler  37:17  
I agree that, Leilani I think one of the interesting things to look out for with Grenfell is the way in which when the inquiry report presents, and I don't remember when that is, but when we have finally have the reckoning with Grenfell, to what extent this will be seen as just a problem with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which was the local authority. Was this, you know, something that was just a kind of Rogue council going out on its own as an outlier? Or are we going to see this as something that's much more structural, you know, the kind of lack of regulation, cost cutting going on in the building, all this kind of thing? Are we going to get the bigger picture here? Or are we just gonna stand and point to Kensington and Chelsea and say, the bad guys, you know, I think important, we get the bigger picture on this. 

Fredrik Gertten  38:12  
When we did the film, we looked into fires and social housing globally. So even in Sweden, this nice little country, we have more fires in so in something that's like, would be called social housing, which we don't have that model. But still, I mean, we seen a lot of these fires in Paris. We were in Chile. I mean, there's a lot of fires in poor areas. There's also a global pattern, that there are more fires where poor people live. So this is something we also should should keep in mind. Leilani 

Leilani Farha  38:48  
Yeah, I think I think that's really interesting. I did a piece of work recently with some folks living in kind of Council of State, excuse me, in Melbourne, Australia, and they were put under a hard lockdown during the pandemic, and a very hard lockdown. They were given, I think 24 hours notice of this lockdown. I say their human rights were being violated they didn't have access to food and medicines. This is a refugee and migrant population and a lot of psychosocial disabilities and and there as a result of this hard lockdown, there was an increase in attempts of suicide and all sorts of really horrible outcomes. In the face of this pandemic, what was so interesting to me was that the residents of those council estates really identified with the folks in Grenfell I thought that was so a very different circumstance. I mean, we're talking lockdown versus fire, but that feeling of voice lessness lack of power, lack of political clout. etc, they read and they identified themselves with the Grenfell tower residents and survivors.