John McDonnell claims the Grenfell Tower fire was 'social murder'

Bethany Minelle, News Reporter

John McDonnell has said those killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster were the victims of "social murder".

The shadow chancellor repeated claims that 80 people understood to have died in last month's fire were "murdered by political decisions taken over recent decades".

Mr McDonnell first expressed his view that the disaster was "murder" during a debate at Glastonbury in June.

When asked if he regretted his words, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "No, I don't regret that. I was extremely angry with what went on. I'm a west London MP, this site is not far from me.

"Political decisions were made which resulted in the deaths of these people. That's a scandal."

When pressed on the use of the word "murder", Mr McDonnell said: "There's a long history in this country of the concept of social murder where decisions are made with no regard to consequences of that, and as a result of that people have suffered.

"That's what's happened here, and I'm angry."

He added: "I believe social murder has occurred in this incidence and I believe people should be accountable."

The concept of 'social murder' was made popular by German philosopher Friedrich Engels, who founded Marxist theory with Karl Marx in the 19th century.

Elaborating on who exactly the "murderers" were, Mr McDonnell, said: "I think there's been a consequence of political decisions over years that have not addressed the housing crisis that we've had, that have cut back on local government so proper inspections have not been made.

"Eleven-thousand firefighter jobs have been cut as well - even the investment in aerial ladders - and things like that in our country."

When asked if he meant that the politicians who oversaw the cuts were murderers, he replied: "I believe politicians have to be held to account. I remain angry at how many people have lost their lives as a result of political decisions made over years."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also criticised the Government over the Grenfell Tower disaster, calling it "the terrible consequence of austerity and of doing things on the cheap".