I guess politicians do watch the BRITs. The biggest headline from last night's awards ceremony came from double award winner Stormzy, who, during his performance, raised the important fact of the many injustices that have followed the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017. He directly name-checked the disaster, and specifically the issue of financial help for survivors ("Yo Theresa May, where's the money for Grenfell? / What, you think we just forgot about Grenfell?" were two lines from his freestyle).
According to a tweet by Guardian political correspondent Jessica Elgot, Number 10 has since responded to his comments:
Let's be absolutely clear: These commitments are not new. They emerged at the time of the last Budget (Ms Elgot points out that the £58 million figure is historical, rather than pledged in response to Stormzy's comments). But many feel that the government have not done nearly enough, with one December 2017 report stating that four out of five families affected by the fire still needed new homes. Stormzy, last night, gave voice to that collective concern.
Pressure of the sort put on the government by Stormzy at the BRITs is crucial in keeping Grenfell in the minds of the public, and the light he shone on the issue is invaluable. While the Conservative government has not pledged anything new, a spokesperson has now admitted that the "initial response" to the fire was "too slow," which is an important step in forcing them to be accountable. The reply also shows the good that can be done when artists actually use their platform to plainly state facts, rather than making vague gestures towards causes. The British public deserve more stars like Stormzy, who are willing to advocate on the behalf of the most vulnerable in our society.
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