One extremely recent event highlights the social and economic breakdown of Britain. This has been the absolutely ghastly fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower on 15th June 2017, in the W10 postal district, an area I used to know extremely well as a student almost forty years ago, as training classes for our chartered accountancy examination were conducted in that vicinity.

The area was full of council flats, as social housing was called. That area was then an English working class preserve, with an edgy and gritty, but by no means dangerous, urban feel. It then developed an increasingly-diverse mix as West Indian immigrants settled in that area. Originally, the West Indians had settled in the Notting Hill area, then a slum, and then moved north to Ladbroke Grove. Thereafter, they moved further north, if by 2,000 to 3,000 feet, to the Latimer Road area.

In later decades, West Indian immigrants bettered themselves, moved on and were replaced by West African immigrants. West Africans were subsequently joined by West Asians, and the area has an amazingly feel, as might happen when English, Jamaican, Nigerian and Levantine idiosyncrasies meld together to create a mélange of vibrant sights, sounds, tastes and cultures.

Greed Defines the London Property Scene: The gentrification of inner London, as that area is, had been proceeding since the 1980s. In the 1990s, Notting Hill first became a desirable address, and poorer residents moved out as social housing was sold and the area gentrified. The greed of developers led to the exodus of population northwards. Ladbroke Grove was next, in the 2000s, to fall prey to developer greed, in gentrification and yuppification, and the process is nearing completion, with social housing replaced by private ownership of housing stock. Hence, residents have moved north to the Latimer Road area.

Developers, in their search for quick and vast profits, have significantly cut corners, in refurbishing older and badly-maintained properties, in areas such as Latimer Road, using cheap and potentially-dangerous materials. Construction standards have been equally appalling, while local councils’ inspection of building activities have been minuscule and dilatory. This contingency is endemic all over in London. Many blocks of flats are fire accidents waiting to happen on an industrial scale, and deaths may amount to the thousands.

The Latimer Road area has now caught the interests of developers, and the owners and managers of social housing, the councils and the management companies, have realized it has been time that they monetized their property assets. To renovate 1970s badly-built housing stock is an expensive proposition. In their desire to save on costs, many economies were made in designing modern fire prevention systems, and tower blocks such as Grenfell Tower, all over Britain, have become potentially-lethal death-traps.

Another aspect of greed has been the austerity policies of the Conservative party, which for the past seven years has denuded Britain of public spending. In doing so, the grants-in-aid to local authorities for the welfare of people have been sharply curtailed. This has led to the decline of living standards for those most in need of support in human society. The monies so saved have been used to fund the taxation reduction benefits granted to the rich and prosperous, so that their lifestyles could be enhanced.

The Conservative party has lost the common touch, and in effect condemned millions of Britain’s resident to a perpetual life of penury and hardships. Once a 1st world country, Britain now has the quality of life, and living standards, similar to countries that it liked to call those in the 3rd world.

The Conservative party has brought back an archaic feudalism, best parodied in the P. G. Wodehouse stories we read about in our childhood. They have transformed Britain from an egalitarian society to one based on patronage and race considerations. Economically, feudal economic policy attitudes have meant that millions will now never rise above a subsistence level of living standards. In the last decade, Britain has socially regressed by a century.

Hubris Defines Modern British Governance: Theresa May, the current Prime Minister, is the handmaiden of contemporary British feudalism. As the principal representative of those in charge of the political governance of Britain who do not care about the people, but are only looking out for themselves, she is the best example of an egregious politician.

With ice-cold blood in her veins, and not a shred of compassion in her being for her fellow human citizens’ travails, she has revealed herself to be looking out for the projection of her personal image, if indeed any can be transmitted, and the protection of her masters’ interests. But, the image that comes across is that of a hubristic, cold, formal, pedantic and didactic head of government possessing not an iota of leadership skills, and appallingly slow to react because of an inability to relate to the human condition.

The Grenfell Tower massacre, one can call it only that since it really is a mass criminal incident, has occurred because it principally housed refugees, immigrants and non-White people. A large building housing wealthy people would have never have been allowed to light up so rapidly or burn for so long, and a variety of emergency and rescue services would have operated there immediately.

In the Grenfell Towers case, the organization of a variety of ameliorative services of the State was negligible. The absence of such ameliorative functionalities were substituted by ad-hoc civil society operations and organizations, that sprung up because of community actions, while local authority and central government relief and rehabilitation services were woefully absent. Why? Because the persons affected were non-White immigrants? The recent London Bridge massacre saw extremely fast responses because those involved were pre-dominantly richer persons of European origins.

May’s answers to questions on these matters was to resort to procedural matters, ignoring the realities of human disaster mitigation. All of these suggest the possibility that she is an individual who cannot handle demographic diversities, and finds the concept of non-White people living in modern Britain to be an anathema. She cannot tolerate the presence of people of color, and in spite of the worst possible calamities that hit them had hesitated to visit or show empathy for their plight.

Theresa May has been shown to be clueless and unsympathetic, with attitudes that belong in a bygone Victorian age, when natives were to be kept in their place by steely and imperious Memsahibs, and woe betide those who talked back to them or rocked the boat of British imperial destiny. She has been promoted several notches above her level of competence, comprehension skills and capabilities in administrative affairs. While completely out of depth in policy and administrative matters, she is the nasty face of the nasty party, based on her own labeling of the Conservative party.

What Now? Comparatively, the Queen, as the Head of State, was much faster off the mark in visiting the disaster site and offering what was in her power to offer by way of consolations and condolences. Though 91, she has emerged as the genuine administrative and political leader of modern Britain.

The Queen’s other role, as Head of the Commonwealth, has made her fully aware of the variety of characteristics defining humanity across the world that makes up the Commonwealth. As a result, she is very sensitive to the multi-cultural diversities of modern Britain.

In her capacity as Head of State, the Queen has appointed May as the Head of Government, and Prime Minister. Nevertheless, this is only a pro-tem position since the Conservative party does not have a parliamentary majority and the support of the Democratic Unionist Party in support of the government is not official.

To stop Britain from becoming more of a socially-wrecked country, the Queen would do well to consider getting herself another Prime Minister, who has not presided over the mass murder of innocent people by white collar criminals and pretended nothing has happened. The Head of State should appoint a liberal and progressive national government, recognizing the multi-cultural realities of Britain incorporating the richness and diversities of contemporary life.

This would mitigate, to a degree, social tensions exacerbated by the greed and hubris ruining modern Britain. Such a national government would keep the welfare of people paramount, without discrimination, and ensure the development of a just and equitable society.

(Sumit K. Majumdar is Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas)