You may have done so already, but I believe Arthur France and the Carnival Committee in Leeds should be sent an invitation, especially as they celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. I shall be speaking at a commemorative event they are having later in August. They, of course, have faced similar issues albeit on a different scale and have managed to keep Leeds City Council from messing with them.
It was inevitable and therefore wholly predictable that the state would use the Grenfell Massacre to deal with the Carnival once and for all. They wrapped the tower block in cheap cladding not for ecological and energy saving reasons to the benefit of residents, but to make it less offensive to the eyes of the Holland Park and Chelsea overspill. The shell should be left exactly as it is and given the status of a vertical graveyard, so that those same people have no choice but to look upon it daily. That form of social and ethnic cleansing is precisely what they have been attempting for decades as far as the Carnival is concerned.
The Minister for London, Greg Hands’ call on Friday 7 July for the Carnival to be moved has nothing whatsoever to do with honouring the dead, as clearly they had been afforded absolutely no honour before they were incinerated. If it is disrespectful and in bad taste for 2 million revellers at the Notting Hill Carnival to be girating around that vertical coffin so soon after the social massacre, it surely must have been equally disrespectful for Ariana Grande to stage a follow up ‘One Love Manchester’ concert a mere two weeks after the suicide bombing in that city that killed 22 people and injured many more. Some 50,000 people attended that concert, with hundreds of thousands more watching on television and donating more than £2m.
Scooter Braun, executive producer of the show and manager of Grande and Justin Bieber, is reported as saying at the concert:
‘Manchester, your bravery is our hope. Because of you, we can now represent through this as a worldwide community, that we will be ready, we will be fearless and we will be great’. The Metro reported that international artists such as Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Bieber, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams joined Ariana Grande ‘to stick two fingers up to terrorism’.
The state is clearly nervous and jumpy about the prospect of more than one million fearless members of a local/national/worldwide community standing up for the victims of the Grenfell Massacre and condemning the cynicism and corporate criminal conduct of the local state, the London Mayoralty under Boris Johnson and national government. As such, this attempt by the state and the national police to shut down the festival is about much more than the Notting Hill Carnival and how the local community deals with its dead, maimed and homeless.
That is why Greg Hands, Cressida Dick, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and all the rest of them would prefer the residents of Notting Hill, Londoners generally and the whole nation to see this as having to do with the appropriateness of a carnival procession weaving around Grenfell Tower, rather than as a mataphor for Brexit Britain, border control and what the state does with refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented workers, gentrification, neo-liberalism and ‘Two Nation’/’Two Speed’ Britain.
May the Universal Force be with you all ways!