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John McDonnell: Grenfell Tower victims 'murdered' by political decisions

John McDonnell has claimed the Grenfell Tower victims were 'murdered'. Credit: PA

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire were murdered by political decisions.

Mr McDonnell made the claims in front of a crowd of thousands during a debate at Glastonbury Festival.

His comments come a day after Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn told festival-goers at the Somerset site Grenfell had raised "basic questions" about housing and wider social equality.

Mr McDonnell was taking part in the debate with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and economist Faiza Shaheen.

The hour-long debate asked whether democracy is broken.

In response to questions from the chair, Guardian journalist John Harris on the subject, Mr McDonnell said: "Is democracy working? It didn't work if you were a family living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower."

"Those families, those individuals - 79 so far and there will be more - were murdered by political decisions that were taken over recent decades.

The shadow chancellor spoke in front of a crowd of thousands at Glastonbury Festival. Credit: PA

"The decision not to build homes and to view housing as only for financial speculation rather than for meeting a basic human need made by politicians over decades murdered those families.

"The decision to close fire stations and to cut 10,000 firefighters and then to freeze their pay for over a decade contributed to those deaths inevitably and they were political decisions."

Mr McDonnell repeatedly drew cheers from the crowds when he spoke of the need for electoral reform and changes to the House of Lords.

He called for a "progressive intellectual alliance" between parties to rebuild what is needed for a democracy.

"The House of Lords - 92 of them are there on the basis of who Charles II shagged at some point in the past," he said.

"It can't be right that we have a House of Lords that's based upon those people appointed rather than elected."

Mr McDonnell said Labour would not "turn away" votes from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to defeat the Conservatives on austerity measures. In the future, Labour could stand its own candidates in Northern Ireland, he added.

He told activists to prepare for another election "any day" and spoke of the "solidarity that burns within us all".

"But I tell you be ready for it any day because we are going to try not just defeat them in parliament but we have got to mobilise in every community to demoralise, divide them and force them to the electorate, force them into democracy.

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