Well done Polly, completely missing the point

As the country fell silent yesterday for the Grenfell Tower victims, David Davis was opening negotiations to take the UK out of the EU. How did it come to this great kamikaze mission? What fired up a small and eccentric group of rightwing extremists to hammer away over the decades until they dragged us away from our closest neighbours?

One word captures their intent – and it concerns the Grenfell residents: “deregulation”. These Brexiteers are driven by a kind of fever to tear down restrictions, regulations, laws and constraints on business to let free enterprise run wild. That’s what they mean by “take back control”, though it’s not how they explained their shrink-the-state passion to referendum voters.

We don’t yet know if building regulations were weakened or disregarded at Grenfell Tower, or if rules were obeyed but wholly inadequate. We do know that coroners and experts calling for tougher safeguards were simply ignored by those who should have listened. With residents of another 4,000 tower blocks needing urgent reassurance, whatever national appetite for deregulation and risk there might have been has gone.

The Brexiteers’ ogre is the monstrous regiment of EU regulations and the abominable army of homegrown health-and-safety guardians whose red tape is deemed to hold back our buccaneering business spirit. “Elf’n’safety” officers (with a sneer) became the butt of Tory dinner party jokes about the nanny state, and a staple of Tory press myths about the EU. No, conkers and hanging baskets were never banned. Boris Johnson was minced before the Treasury select committee for his fictitious ban on recycled tea bags, children blowing up balloons or the correct weight of coffins.

Sigh.

There was significant regulation here. What there wasn’t was responsibility. And a little more of the second can be very much more important than the first. Whether we call it the Clerk of Works, or professional responsibility, whatever, that one individual–and yes, making it one person does concentrate minds wonderfully–owns a project, the benefits and failures of it in that liability sense, tends to make things safer. On the very sensible basis that someone with their knackers potentially in the vice tends to pay attention. Box ticking doesn’t have quite the same effect.

49 comments on “Well done Polly, completely missing the point

  1. There was significant regulation here. What there wasn’t was responsibility. And a little more of the second can be very much more important than the first.

    This is spot on. It’s why the North Sea is so much safer than the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas operations.

    Following Piper Alpha, the UK HSE made it the responsibility of the operators to *demonstrate* that the residual risks on their platforms were As Low As Reasonable Practicable (ALARP). In practice, this means carrying out risk identification exercises (HAZIDs, HAZOPs) and putting in place mitigation measures to reduce the risks and then managing those which are still in the “medium” range. This puts all the emphasis back on the operator and personnel, forcing them to think about things and take responsibility for how they design and run their installations. It’s known as a risk-based approach to safety.

    By contrast, the US has stuck with its OSHA prescriptive approach: tick all the boxes in the checklist and you’re compliant, no need to actually think about anything. Of course, OSHA – a government body – employs several tens of thousands of people to walk around carrying out inspections and audits, so any suggestion they change is going to be met with fierce resistance.

  2. Agree with Geoffers. I don’t think she is so much missing the point as actively distorting the facts (in so much as Polly is actually capable of facts – lets call them ‘assertions’) to push her evil collectivist solutions to everything.

  3. “How did it come to this great kamikaze mission?”

    A free and fair vote Polly; something you will never understand.

  4. “…a small agroup of right-wing extremists. .. dragged us away from our closest neighbours.”

    52% equals a small group; 48% equals a majority. Polly and numbers eh.

  5. However, Westminster is not noticeably worse than Brussels when it comes to idiotic regulation – the point about Brexit is it will be our own idiot bureaucrats rather than an agglomeration of the best bureaucracy 28 States can muster (and pay for).

    (If you think I’m being silly, I refer you to Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 s.82, for just one example: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/27/section/82)

    But best of all is Washington DC, where a requirement that agency IT departments report their Y2K compliance is only now being dropped, see https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/16/us_government_ends_y2k_compliance_program/.

    Just a thought: I wonder when (if?) UK and/or EU agencies were first able to stop Y2K reporting….

  6. “We don’t yet know if building regulations were weakened or disregarded at Grenfell Tower, or if rules were obeyed but wholly inadequate.”

    “…but I’m going to mount my personal hobby horse anyway!”

  7. If Corbyn gets in ever all these matters will be minor compared to the Hell that will reign. For he and his gang will never allow themselves to be voted out.

    Henceforth Cato will be my guide.

    With the other Kato in reserve.

  8. The whole point of the stifling bureaucracy we have in the modern world is to ensure that no one person is to blame.

    If only K&C had been Labour run. Then the residents of Grenfell would have been safe as houses.

    And, by the way, does anyone find it strange, that out of 500-600 residents, with the Fire Brigade rescuing only 60-odd, that the death toll is so low? Given the descriptions of the circumstances I expected it to be much,much higher.

  9. I do believe it is safe to assume that Polly, if she was invited would likely leap at the chance to join a management board like KCTMO due to the perceived status and the opportunity to boss people around – and she’d be accepted because of her public prominence….

    I’m forced to recall Deirdre Hutton at the CAA, Chris Smith at the Environment Agency and on and on down the tiers of of our institutions where status trumps competence and petty airs and graces are deemed the prime qualification for responsible positions.

    As long as Frank Spencer has a hard hat and hi-viz tabard and is clutching his participation trophy – we’re good to go…

    While nothing goes wrong – nobody notices.

    I’d wager that KCTMO used more time faffing over the cladding colour scheme than any other feature of the refurb – and that had nothing to do with ‘fatcha or the evil Tories.

    As long as professional responsibility remains unenforced in our public services incidents like Grenfell Tower will continue happen… that’s not saying they won’t happen – but common sense dictates that that nuts in a vise thing is a reasonable motivator.

    I hope the carnival of coffin dancing and spitting has been risk assessed.

  10. @AGN

    I’m sure our home-grown bureaucrats are equally capable of stupidity as those in the Berlaymont. It’s just that, if we don’t like the way the government is running the UK, we can throw the blighters out. That’s more difficult in the case of Juncker and his cohorts. And that (rather than racism) is why the majority voted for Brexit.

  11. What fired up a small and eccentric group of rightwing extremists

    Or the majority of the British public, to be more accurate.

    We don’t yet know if building regulations were weakened or disregarded at Grenfell Tower, or if rules were obeyed but wholly inadequate.

    Translation: I’m not sure if we or the Tories fucked this up, so I am hedging my bets until a narrative can be established.

  12. Pingback: Two Approaches to Safety | White Sun of the Desert

  13. AGN,

    There was a bigger problem than Y2K. That was Y2.01K. A significant number of systems and software packages failed when 2010 came around, precisely because they were so focussed on not buggering up when 2000 happened they intrduced extra bugs. The Register followed this a lot and I saw it a few times.

    Also Whitehall has a bad habit of incorporating EU regulations directly into UK law without first checking their applicability or worse “gold plating” the regulations to make them extra stringent.Ministers are usually too stupid or “busy” (ie lazy) to check. Gove reckons that he stopped a few. I refer you to Christopher Booker’s “The Mad Officials” and the Sunderland Metric Martyrs.

  14. I’m forced to recall Deirdre Hutton at the CAA, Chris Smith at the Environment Agency and on and on down the tiers of of our institutions where status trumps competence and petty airs and graces are deemed the prime qualification for responsible positions.

    When I was doing some research into deranged Brooklyn-based “artists” for my book, I went through quite a few LinkedIn profiles of people with lots of social media followers, loud voices, and social science degrees. An awful lot of them were angling for positions on the board of a “non-profit” somewhere. I’d be surprised if a lot of them weren’t successful in finding one.

  15. I’d wager that KCTMO used more time faffing over the cladding colour scheme than any other feature of the refurb – and that had nothing to do with ‘fatcha or the evil Tories.

    Oh God no! The colour is vaguely important; these lot would have been demanding to know how much recycling of office paper the contracting company does and how many women are on its board.

  16. “Elf’n’safety” officers (with a sneer) became the butt of Tory dinner party jokes about the nanny state, and a staple of Tory press myths about the EU. No, conkers and hanging baskets were never banned.

    With the hanging baskets, the point is that the H&S fascists tried to ban them. In the end, though, they didn’t succeed. See:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/suffolk/3475431.stm

  17. @AGN

    “A special road is not a restricted road for the purposes of section 81 on or after the date declared by the traffic authority, by notice published in the prescribed manner, to be the date on which the special road, or the relevant part of the special road, is open for use as a special road.”

    What are you complaining about? It’s all perfectly straightforward stuff 🙂

  18. “As the country fell silent yesterday”

    Fuck that noise. You get a minute’s silence out of respect for what you did. Burning in a fire or getting blown up by Islamists while sitting on a beach isn’t doing anything. It’s just about being unlucky.

  19. @TimN – worth noting that the CEO of KCTMO (who has avoided a lot of criticism and kept his head right down) is an arts graduate – degree and post grad in “painting”, no less, according to his LinkedIn profile. Then a nine year blank spot until he started working for the English Churches Housing Group (no, me neither).

    As has been alluded to here, we still don’t actually know the exact cause of the fire – there are several possible options:

    1) The cladding was completely legal and properly installed but should never have been allowed – this seems to have been disproved, although the news that it was banned on buildings above 18m received very little coverage

    2) The cladding was unlicensed (seems to have been the case) but was approved anyway

    3) The cladding was unlicenced and not approved but installed anyway

    4) The cladding was both unlicensed and badly installed without proper breaks and joints

    5) etc.

    Depending on the exact course of events leading to the supply and fitting of the panels is established we simply don’t know who to blame – and David Lammy (who amazingly is a QC) demanding that “people” be locked up for “corporate manslaughter” is talking out of his hat. Responsibility could like with the KCTMO, the contractors, the sub-contractors, the suppliers, the manufacturers, the council, the architect or some combination of the above. The only response to the cries of “LOCK THEM UP” should be “Who? And on what grounds?”

  20. “When I was doing some research into deranged Brooklyn-based “artists” for my book, I went through quite a few LinkedIn profiles of people with lots of social media followers, loud voices, and social science degrees. An awful lot of them were angling for positions on the board of a “non-profit” somewhere. I’d be surprised if a lot of them weren’t successful in finding one.”

    Is this your novel?

  21. As an aside, Robert Black, the aforementioned CEO, is paid more than Theresa May. (£160k/y vs. £149k/y)

  22. The rancid old cow really is evil isn’t she. It was the regulation that the block was wrapped in cladding which killed them. Is she really so far detached from reality that she believes anything she writes? OK that’s a rhetorical question.

  23. David Lammy (who amazingly is a QC) demanding that “people” be locked up for “corporate manslaughter” is talking out of his hat. Responsibility could like with the KCTMO, the contractors, the sub-contractors, the suppliers, the manufacturers, the council, the architect or some combination of the above. The only response to the cries of “LOCK THEM UP” should be “Who? And on what grounds?”

    I doubt he is bothered. He and others have sniffed a change in the air and are going full out. Lock the lot up and have the mob break into the prison and lynch them. The Revolution WILL happen, comrade!

  24. There was significant regulation here. What there wasn’t was responsibility. And a little more of the second can be very much more important than the first.

    If everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible. A key principle of management is to have named individuals responsible for particular things.

  25. These Brexiteers are driven by a kind of fever to tear down restrictions

    This fire proves we need the Common Agricultural Policy.

  26. AGN; KY Gel issued a millenium-compliant version: Y2KY Gel. So now you can squeeze four digits in your date instead of two….

  27. With the hanging baskets, the point is that the H&S fascists tried to ban them. In the end, though, they didn’t succeed.

    Go on then, explain to me what was wrong with what happened. This wasn’t some faceless bureaucrat, it was a named council officer who thought the baskets, which had been weighed, might be too heavy for some of the older lampposts. Isn’t it his job to stop heavy things falling on people’s heads?

    It turned out that the locals liked hanging baskets much more than they liked old lampposts, so the suspect lampposts were replaced with sturdy new ones, able to support more hanging baskets than ever, and joy abounded.

  28. This wasn’t some faceless bureaucrat, it was a named council officer who thought the baskets, which had been weighed, might be too heavy for some of the older lampposts.

    This reminds me of the time when a Nigerian construction contractor refused to install a valve in a line because it “looked heavy”. Unbeknown to him, and seemingly British council officers, there are methods of determining whether something is too heavy for an existing structure to bear.

    so the suspect lampposts were replaced with sturdy new ones

    Presumably selected because they “looked strong”.

  29. SJW

    1. For the 17 previous years, the Borough Council had weighed the baskets and had on occasion asked for a weight reduction. No basket had ever fallen from a lamp post.

    2. When the County Council took over responsibility for the lamp posts, a jobsworth decided that the lamp posts were insufficiently strong for any basket.

    3. The lamp posts were fine. I have one outside a property I own in the town. Replacing the lamp posts was quite unnecessary. New and stronger brackets could have been attached to the existing lamp posts, if necessary.

    4. The risk from a falling basket was minimal. The baskets hang parallel to the kerb, not a right-angles to it, so in all probability a falling basket would fall into the gutter.

    5. The County Council’s officers were making the point that their highways engineers did “better” risk assessments than the Borough’s — allegedly to ensure that the contract for highways maintenance in the town was never handed back to the Borough.

  30. When the County Council took over responsibility for the lamp posts, a jobsworth decided that the lamp posts were insufficiently strong for any basket.

    I appreciate I’m going of the journalist’s report linked to by SJW, but it says:

    When the authority took over maintenance of lampposts, it announced some could crack under the strain of bearing hanging baskets

    What are they made from, un-reinforced concrete?!

  31. “What are they made from, un-reinforced concrete?!”

    Tim N: they were made of metal – presumably steel? – in a tactful style suitable for a Georgian town. Well maintained and no visible signs of corrosion; but then I’m no expert. Originally installed 1985-7, IIRC.

  32. Oh God no! The colour is vaguely important; these lot would have been demanding to know how much recycling of office paper the contracting company does and how many women are on its board.

    Sounds like the CEO might claim some passing expertise in aesthetics … I wonder if the residents (numbers TBD) were aware that they were contributing about £250 a year each – to keep him in the style he’s so obviously entitled to… obviously they didn’t get to vote on his remuneration package (Polly wouldn’t stand for that!)

    I’ve done quite a bit of that Linked-In research thing and noticed the circling lefty liberal arts and sociologist crew fishing for undemanding “not for profit” sinecures. I’ll volunteer some skill in spotting “serial underachievers” in government agency employ 🙂

  33. What a shame Polly didn’t jump on the “steal second houses from foreigners” bandwagon. It would have given us such fun. Presumably even she thought that was a bit close to home.

  34. Come Ecksy’s purge and we’ll be thanking the council for installing extra strong lampposts!

  35. SJW: ‘…so the suspect lampposts were replaced with sturdy new ones, able to support more hanging baskets than ever…’

    I hope that was tested by stringing up the little council tosser who complained in the first place…

  36. Pcar,

    Having listened to that let’s hope it rains heavily and I mean that seriously.

    A very good friend was down for the weekend and he was saying that his 28’year old daughter who’s worked in London for the past 8 years reckons she’s not seen anger like it. She’s a sensible lass, works in PR for the music industry Brought up in Manchester and tends to have a good northern approach to life. She’s also a bit of an entrepreneur who doesn’t think anyone owes her a living, so inclined to trust her judgement and I’m a bit worried about where this demo is leading.

  37. 150 million people murdered and the cunts who support that are angry?

    Have a mega-riot you scum.

    Let all the wanks who love Grandpa Death and think the senile floater is cool get a taste of what socialism and the scum who follow it are all about.

    Even dumb evil vermin like McNasty must realise what damage such capers will do to his shite cause.

    Corbyn and his gang must be destroyed.

  38. Oi, Polly! I’m a centre-left extemist, thank you very much. As are the other 25%-30% of my party that you drool over that voted Leave.

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