John McDonnell has said people responsible for “social murder” at Grenfell Tower should be held to account.
The shadow chancellor insisted he has no regrets for saying the victims of the disaster in west London were murdered by political decisions taken over recent decades.
He reiterated the claim and defended his previous remarks while appearing on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show.
At least 80 people are thought to have died in last month’s devastating fire at Grenfell Tower.
Mr McDonnell, asked if he regretted saying people were murdered by political decisions, replied: “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.”
Pressed on the use of the word “murder”, Mr McDonnell replied: “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.”
Mr McDonnell, asked to explain who are the murderers, 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, 11,000 firefighter jobs have been cut as well – even the investment in aerial ladders, and things like that in our country.”
Presenter Andrew Marr asked if the Labour MP was suggesting the politicians who sanctioned the cuts are murderers.
Mr McDonnell 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.”
He added: “I do not resile from what I’ve said and I remain angry at the loss of life that has taken place not far away from my constituency.”
Mr McDonnell made his original comments – that people at Grenfell Tower were “murdered by political decisions that were taken over recent decades” – during a debate at Glastonbury Festival’s Left Field tent, which asked whether democracy is broken.
Mr McDonnell’s claim that the fire was “social murder” was roundly condemned by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
“It is a disgraceful suggestion in line with many other things John McDonnell has said over the years. There is absolutely not a shred of evidence to support that,” he told The Andrew Marr Show.