Grenfell Everything I Have Learned On The Causes Behind The Inferno

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Grenfell Everything I Have Learned On The Causes Behind The Inferno

[posted by Lara Keller 5/8/2017]

Grenfell Tower fire in the early hours of the 14 June 2017, spread with incredible speed spreading from the 4th to the top 24th floor in 20 minutes. Over 80 men, women and children has been killed by toxic fumes and heat, and their remains cremated. It really is not too strong to describe this as the most horrific fire in the UK since the Second World War. To keep any respect for democracy and government regulation in the UK, the residents of Grenfell Tower need to get full justice, and there needs to be urgent action to make residential housing (social, student or private) safe in the UK. On a more personal level I was shocked by the death of Mohammed al-Haj Ali a young civil engineer would had been forced to flee the malevolent state of Assad’s Syria, only to become a victim of the indifferent UK state. It is a bitter irony that indifference does not respect borders.

The thing that marks this Tower Block fire out from previous ones is the very rapid speed of the fire spread, and the high number of deaths and injuries. The main issue in getting justice is understanding the “rapid fire spread”. In this article I ignore the cause of the kitchen flat fire and sprinklers. I ignore even the response of the fire services, and the quality of the escape routes and fire advice. The reason is that the authorities will argue if Grenfell had been a normal fire these systems would have worked. I will also ignore the disgraceful treatment of the residents before and after the fire by the super wealthy penny pinching social cleansing Kensington and Chelsea Council. This is an important issue, but who is actually directly responsible for the crime of refurbishing Grenfell Tower to make it a death trap needs to be established, and this means looking deeply at the cause.

In the weeks following the fire, there were several fire engineering experts giving concrete informed opinions on the fire in the UK media. This from the Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/24/grenfells-unusual-design-led-blaze-spread-say-investigators/   it quotes a “well places source” putting focus on voids in the cavity behind the rainscreen (termed “cladding” by media) on the Tower Blocks columns (some architects term these “fins”).

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Early video of the fire appeared on BBC Newsnight, showing the two columns near the 4th floor (close to the North-East corner) flat where the flat started, on fire from the 4th to the 24th floor, the entire height of the building is in flames in 20 minutes.

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So it seemed from several sources that fire stopping in the cladding cavity on the columns was the key area to look at. The media at this time were still just reporting that the Reynobond PE rainscreen used, had a flammable Polyethylene core, and this was the main cause of the rapid fire spread.

Cladding is fitted on to a 1970s Tower Block like Grenell Tower, to bring the insulation up to modern standards, stop the degrading of the concrete walls by weather, stop damp getting into flats and to improve the outside appearance. It is fitted as a “cladding” system like this:

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The word Cladding is often used to refer to all the layers, with the outer one being called Rainscreen. There was a standard 50mm cavity gap between the Rainscreen and the Insulation at Grenfell. This allows the insulation to stay dry, as it is only effective if dry. The problem is that fire can get into the cavity gap and spread unseen between floors.

To stop this and to still allow ventilation, at each floor level a complete line of Ventilated Cavity Fire Barriers is installed, which goes from the Concrete Wall to the Rainscreen. Steel brackets hold it firmly in place. A 25mm air gap is left between the Cavity Barrier and the Rainscreen. The Cavity Barrier contains a layer treated with an Intumescent material, that expands when exposed to heat. So when the cavity reaches typically 180 C, the line of Cavity fire Barriers should have fully expanded to close the 25mm air gap left in the cavity. Each floor level section of cavity in the cladding is then sealed from the floor above and below.

There are lots of companies who make Ventilated Cavity Fire Barriers, and I do not know who makes the best ones. Here is an informative piece from a company called Tenmat  http://www.tenmat.com/passive-fire-protection/ventilated-fire-barriers :

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I do not have had connection to people who make any of these cladding products, my only concern is that Grenfell Residents get full justice, which means looking into the construction details and so trying to get at the root cause of the rapid fire spread.

The Chimney Effect mentioned refers to how vertical cavities without fire barriers, can act like chimneys, which can create very powerful upward drafts. Obviously this effects how semi combustible cladding products like insulation burn. Here is a graph showing the “chimney effect”. It’s force is driven by the height of the chimney and the temperature of the fire at the bottom of it. The updrafts are then compared to the pressure you would feel from outside wind speeds on the Beaufort scale. At Grenfell the distance from the 4th floor flat to the top flat is around 45m.

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To know how semi combustible products used on Grenfell Tower would react to a “chimney effect” in a 45m cavity, requires looking at the fire behavior of these materials. At this time at the end of June the BRE (UK Building Research Establishment) were testing small samples of materials cut from Grenfell and other Tower Blocks. The Gurdian newspaer reported that these tests were less than transparent and not to standard procedures: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/26/tower-block-cladding-tests-after-grenfell-fire-lack-transparency-say-experts . It was being reported that the samples of rainscreen and insulation from Grenfell both failed these fire tests: [Det Supt] McCormack said: “Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower combusted soon after the tests started. The initial test on the cladding tiles also failed the safety tests.” (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/23/grenfell-tower-fire-police-considering-manslaughter-charges).

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I looked at previous fire tests for the the Rainscreen (Reynbond 55 PE) and the Insulation (Celotex rs5000). According to various brochures for these materials they are fire rated in the UK as Class 0. This translates to Euroclass B as the table below shows:

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Euroclass ratings use the Single Burning Item (SBI) Test, which uses a 70W Propane Burner to heat a sample of the material in a corner room test for 20 minutes. A special high tech room is used where the heat produced and combustion products  are analyzed, to determine how much energy the sample has released and what gases, smoke and droplets.

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Euroclass B means the heat energy produced by the burning sample in 10 minutes is less than or equal to 7.5 MJ  (THR600s <= 7.5 MJ). The propane burner supplies 18 MJ to the sample over 10 minutes, and the sample produces 7.5 MJ or less. Do not have the exact THR600s for the Insulation Celotex rs5000. This PIR type foam, is a modified rigid thermoset type of polyurethane, that consists of rings of molecules strongly cross linked, as opposed to thermoplastics formed of loosely bound chains of molecules.  When heated with a blow torch PIR burns, forming a char layer, but goes out when the torch is removed.

There is a test for the Reynobond 55 PE panels (CSTB Report No. RA11-0032 9/2/2011) that gives THR600s as 2.2 MJ.  These panels consist of two sheets of 0.5 mm Aluminum (the 55 refers to this) bonded to a polyurethane core (with additives). Basically the Aluminum prevents very much of the core being exposed to oxygen, where heat can be applied to it to make it burn. So is you supply 18 MJ of heat with a propane burner to a sample of  Reynobond 55 PE panels, you will only generate 2.2MJ of heat from areas of the panels that have been burning. This fire is therefore not self sustaining.

It is difficult to know what tests and standards the BRE (UK Building Research Establishment) were using when they did their single item burning tests on samples of rainscreen and insulation. The London Metropolitan Police did say in a press conference the Rainscreen was harder to burn than the Insulation. The media reporting about the Rainscreen had given the impression that if a corner of it was lite with a burner the whole cladded building facade would go up in flames. The reporting of these first small scale  BRE tests was very limited , and tended to reinforce this impression that “cladding materials only” was the reason for the rapid fire spread.

When an item burns around 30% of the heat energy radiates outwards as infrared waves, and 70% moves upwards as hot air and smoke in a plume. An ideal plume grows in diameter 18% for every unit length gain in height. So with a burning vertical surface a great deal of the heat energy is moving away from the surface. If the burning surface is trapped in a chimney cavity, then clearly most of the heat energy is directed back towards the burning surface, as it moves up with the updraft. In addition the strong updraft pulls more oxygen towards the burning surface, and so allows more rapid combustion. A growing positive feed loop develops.

Taking the case of the PIR Insulation Celotext rs5000 used at Grenfell. A vertical wall of this material is going to burn more fiercely if trapped in a cavity behind rainscreen. Much more of the heat energy from an area of burning insulation is going to directed back to the area of insulation above it, rather than being lost to the open air. As PIR insulation burns it forms a solid char layer. Rather than the hot plastic foam breaking up into a gas that more easily mixes with air. A strong updraft forces oxygen into the char layer and so helps it burn. The same idea applies to the uses of the bellows in a blacksmith’s charcoal forge.

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So in the scenario above a section of vertical semi-combustible cladding (rainscreen, cavity, insulation) is subject to an intense fire in an iron crib at the bottom:

On the Left the rainscreen near the crib fire burns, and cannot enter the cavity because cavity fire barriers have closed. The insulation nearest the crib fire burns most intensely, but much of the resulting heat energy is lost to the open air. The sections of insulation above this burn less intensely as the amount of supplied heat diminishes. This is more like the fire behavior of PIR insulation in a room corner “single item burning” test.

On the Right there is the same set up, but with no (effective) cavity fire barriers. Fire from the crib enters the cavity and is drawn up like a chimney. A strong updraft and the more efficient movement of heat energy up the surface of the burning insulation means the whole surface can burn move fierce and rapidly. This is very different fire behavior than the room corner “single burning item” test. It also means that it needs a smaller total quantity of combustible material to create a serious fire within a cavity. It has been reported that in the rainscreen and the insulation there was the calorific equivalent of 15 tonnes of combustible material on the outside of Grenfell Tower.

Also the Rainscreen would burn differently in the two scenarios above:

On the Left the Rainscreen will only burn to a certain height and then stop. The single item burning tests show it needs external supplied heat to burn, and this falls rapidly with distance from the crib fire. The intensity of the Insulation burning is falling off with height, as heat is lost, and so cannot supply heat to the Rainscreen.

On the Right the Rainscreen burns due to the crib fire in the same way, but the fire moves up the cavity like a chimney. The insulation burns fiercely, and the trapped heat also heats the Rainscreen. The polyethylene core softens and the bond with the outer aluminum sheets weakens. This means when it is ignites it will burn much more fiercely, than in the corner of the room “single item burning” test.

It seems highly probable that the sudden bursting into flames of sections of Reynobond PE Rainscreen on the columns at the Grenfell Tower did not occur when the Rainscreen was cold, but when an existing fire behind the Rainscreen in the Cladding Cavity had preheated the Rainscreen to a critical temperature. This is illustrated here:

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There was an intense flat fire at Taplow Tower in Camden London in 2012 that broke through a window, where the cladding consisted of  Reynobond PE Rainscreen and Mineral Wool insulation. The flat was gutted and put out by the fire brigade from the inside. The external cladding only burned up to the next floor level.

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This shows that the rainscreen Reynobond PE does not burn uncontrollably if subjected to an intense fire source. Assume the cavity fire barriers worked at Taplow Tower and the fire was prevented from entering or going far into the cladding cavity.

By this time the BRE were carrying out a “full scale” test on the combination of cladding materials used at Grenfell Tower using a BS 8414 set up, that is used to determine if external building envelope systems (ie cladding) will contain a fire within a compartment (ie flat) for 15 minutes. It is assumed that all the components of the cladding system are installed correctly, including rainscreen, cavity fire barriers and insulation. To pass the test, the internal thermocouples in the cavity and in the insulation on level 2 (models next floor up), must not reach 600 C for 30 seconds in the 15 minutes after the crib fire (peak output 3MW, approx 250Kg of dry pine) starts.

The BS 8414 test on the Grenfell cladding materials was reported by the media as an “absolute fail”. This is illustrated below:

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The intense crib fire burned away a section of the Reynobond PE Rainscreen nearest the source. Flames were observed reaching up to the top of the test rig. The test was finished after just 7 minutes. The actual results looked like this:

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This BRE BS 8414 test does not explain why 20 floors of cladding at Grenfell Tower was on fire in the first 21 minutes. This test proves that a powerful large dry pine crib wood fire can burn a large hole in Reynobond PE Rainscreen. It does not show that under normal fire conditions that the Rainscreen will burn without a large external heat supply. Imagine if the BRE had been able to build a 20 floor test rig, the results would look like this:

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If the BRE had built a 20 floor tall test rig, then after 30 minutes the crib fire would use up all the wood fuel, and the damage to the rainscreen and insulation would only extend a few floors. This is shown in the middle drawing in the graphic above.

The top drawing shows how the actual BRE test results would have looked on this enormous test rig.

The bottom drawing, shows what actually happened at Grenfell Tower, with the fire racing up 20 floors in 21 minutes. This could only happen, from all the information I and others have seen, if the cavity fire barriers were ineffective, and the fire raced up a 45m chimney behind the rainscreen.

There is some evidence that there were gaps in the horizontal cavity fire barriers under the rainscreen at Grenfell Tower. This uses technical planning drawings submitted to the local council and high resolution photographs of the exposed cladding when the refurbishment was finished. This picture below shows gaps in the cladding ventilated cavity fire barrier line on a Grenfell Tower column:

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The rainscreen panels are hung on the small rods bolted across the vertical black aluminum channels, that cut through the horizontal cavity fire barrier line. There is no evidence of fire stopping in these aluminum channels. Also almost all of the height of the columns has a ribbed and grooved surface in the concrete. There is no evidence that these ribs and grooves were firestopped.

The picture below shows cladding under a window in a horizontal cladding section between the columns:

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Gaps have been cut in the horizontal cavity fire barrier line to take the vertical aluminum channels.

I then transposed these air gaps onto a technical drawing of a Grenfell column cross section :

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You can see the ribs and grooves in this concrete column cross section. These air gaps are shown in yellow, and assume to be unprotected. Using the cladding photographs above there are yellow air gaps around the aluminum channels that support the rainscreen panels, these are assumed to be unprotected. Also shown in blue is the 25 mm protected air gap between the ventilated cavity  fire barrier and the rainscreen, which will be closed when the barriers expand with heat (fully closed at 180 C).

The image was created as accurately as possible using a detailed technical drawing to scale. A graphics program scanned the image for yellow and blue pixels. Scaling this up to reality, an air gap 250 cm squared was protected by cavity fire barrier, while an air gap of 270 cm squared was unprotected, using the assumptions given. If this situation was repeated on other Grenfell cladded columns, then the cavity fire barriers would be essentially useless, as fire bypassed them to flow through unprotected air gaps.

There also appears to be no vertical firestopping between the vertical cladded columns and the horizontal cladded sections around the flats’ windows, that should have stopped the fire moving sideways from the columns.  It has also been reported that air gaps were left around the flats’ windows, allowing smoke and fire easy access to enter flats ( https://www.channel4.com/news/grenfell-new-revelations-did-window-renovations-contribute-to-spread-of-fire ).

Internal firestopping at Grenfell Tower needs to be examined as closely as external firestopping. The refurbishment involved removing and installing new pipes in the vertical service risers, that run vertically the height of the building through the flats. An application was made to remove the internal vertical firestopping between flats, and it is not known if this was effectively replaced after the refurbishment ( http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/fire-safeguards-in-grenfell-were-temporarily-removed-during-refurbishment/7020464.article ).

The lift lobbies and the protected stairwell quickly filled up with smoke, preventing many people from escaping. The last resident to escape reported being forced by smoke in his flat into launching himself into the thick smoke outside his flat, and down the stairwell. He thought he was treading on lots of fire hoses, but they turned out to be dead people who had collapsed and died on the stairwell from toxic smoke. The doors of the flats and the doors to the stairwell should have been able to contain fire and smoke for 60 minutes. There should have been a system to extract smoke from the lobbies and the stairwell. None of this happened. Defective fire stopping from fire doors is a common and very serious problem in social housing tower blocks in London ( https://www.ifsecglobal.com/london-tower-block-fire-councils-social-landlords-ignored-warnings-years ). The refurbishment was completed in 2016, and these new fire doors should have all been installed to the correct standard. Residents of Grenfell Tower were ignored when they complained about botched internal refurbishment of their flats, was this lack of care extended to fire doors?

In March 2015 Grenfell residents formed an action committee, and started refusing allowing Rydon contractors access to their flats, due to the unprofessional standard of the work being done ( https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/who-you-gonna-call-rydonbusters/ ).

A similar refurbishment project in 2014 also carried out by Rydon at the North Myatts Field Estate in Lambeth in London resulted in a whistle blower inside Rydon writing to the residents association ( https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/21/the-real-cost-of-regeneration-social-housing-private-developers-pfi ):

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This is about another project by the same company, but does explicitly mention the issue of firestopping, fire assessments, emergency lighting and smoke alarms. It suggests a chronic failure of respect for health and safety regulations by Rydon management and its sub contractors.

Currently the BRE are doing full scale tests on combinations of rainscreen and insulation. Without effective fire stopping (cavity fire barriers) no combination is safe for use in high rise residential or office buildings. Unprotected cavities in cladding provide a route for fire to travel between compartments (ie flats).

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Only Limited Combustibility Rainscreen (ie Fibre Cement Panels) and Mineral Wool Insualtion should be allowed on high rise buildings. Other combinations are much more dependent on adequate fire stopping. This is too much core fire safety to hang on correctly installed fire stopping, which is often hidden, not inspected and botched by cowboy  contractors. These other cladding combinations need to be stripped out and replaced. The choice of cladding materials allowed by building regulation needs to reflect the reality of the lack of respect for UK government regulation among many in the construction Industry ( https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue ).

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The Grenfell Tower would have been turned into an absolute fire death trap, if firestopping was systematically botched. This central issue must be forcefully pursued by fire engineers reporting to the public inquiry. However this seems very unlikely if construction industry friendly experts are appointed by the inquiry. This is how the Rapid and Deadly Spread of the Grenfell Tower Fire could have happened:

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Lastly on the legal side, the UK 1972 Defective Premises Act states that builders have a duty of care to residents of the buildings they build or alter ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/35  ). The Building Regulations 2010 Act in Schedule 1 sets out the requirement for buildings to adequately resist internal and external fire spread ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2214/schedule/1/made ). The UK government has given guidance on how this can be achieved in Approved Document B ( https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-approved-document-b ). There is also the UK Building Control Alliance guidance on the “Use of Combustible Cladding Materials on Residential Buildings” ( http://theriveroflife.com/wp-content/plugins/BCA-Technical-Guidance-Note-18.pdf ), which gives this very relevant advice:

“Within the confines of a cavity, the flame will also elongate up to ten times its length as it searches for oxygen. Hence, the need for robust cavity barriers, restricted combustibility of key components and the use of materials with a low spread of flame rating is necessary, particularly given the delamination and spalling [breaking into fragments] nature of some of the components when heated”

It should be possible to pursue those responsible for the Grenfell Tower Fire disaster for corporate manslaughter (senior managers whose policies led to death and injury, penalty=fines) and gross negligence manslaughter (against individuals whose actions resulted in a failure of duty of care leading to death and injury, penalty=imprisonment). What is really needed is more whistleblowers. Now is your time.

Key Points to Creating Justice for Victims of Grenfell Tower Fire Slaughter.

 Key Points to Creating Justice for Victims of Grenfell Tower Fire Slaughter:

1. Tower blocks cannot be rapidly engulfed by fire, without huge lack of fire cavity breaks. Alu-PE panels secondary issue to this.

2. Huge number missing hidden fire cavity breaks, means criminal gross negligence manslaughter by number of individuals.

3. This requires a major focused aggressive fast moving police investigation. Evidence secured and people interviewed and arrests made.

4. Outcome of investigation probably be used as major embarrassment to UK Conservative Government and RBKC Council, this is a risk to senior police officers careers.

5. Justice for Grenfell victims therefore requires brave influential champions, supported by demonstrations of constructive public anger.

Supporting sources:
See:

  1. “If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible.” 14/6/17 Geoff Wilkinson, building inspector, UK Daily Telegraph.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/14/regulations-followed-grenfell-tower-inferno-should-have-impossible/  to get accessible copy see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/if-regulations-were-followed-the-grenfell-tower-inferno-should-have-been-impossible/
    Highlighted Key Paragraph = “Something similar happened in Irvine [Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland] in 1999, after which new regulations were put out which limited the types of cladding which could be used. In particular, they mandated barriers at various points in the cavity, blocking off the ‘chimney’ on all sides. And in 2014 Grenfell’s landlords decided to install exactly this kind of cladding in order to ‘improve its appearance’ when viewed from the luxury flats nearby. The Guardian has reported that some panels used in modern cladding are only fire-proofed on the surface, behind which is up to 30cm of highly flammable polyurethane. If true, that is a major non-conformance with regulations. But even if not, were the proper firebreaks put in place behind the panels?
  2. UK Building Research Establishment (BRE) presentation on “The Fire Performance of Building Envelopes”, June 2016 https://www.ifsecglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-Fire-Performance-of-Building-Envelopes-by-Steven-Howard-BRE-Global.pdf Highlighted Key Slide =
    External Walls over 18m in Height. A summary of [guidance from Approved Document B, 2007] Volume 2 Section 12:
    * External surfaces comply with Diagram 40 ‘Euroclasses’. Applicable to all Buildings. Additional recommendations for buildings with a storey over 18m: All insulation and filler materials should be A2-s3,d2 or better. All cavity barriers and fire stopping guidance needs to be followed.
    OR
    * Test the complete system to BS 8414.
    Note = Also gives introduction to fire spread in cladding systems, and useful list of previous incidents.
  3. “Manslaughter charges under consideration after Grenfell Tower disaster.” 18/6/17 See (is accessible):  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/prosecutors-considering-manslaughter-charges-grenfell-tower/  Extract= “He [Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Shadow Brexit Minister]said they would be looking at whether anyone could be charged with manslaughter following a litany of failings that led to the disaster – in which at least at least 58 people are now feared to have been killed.”
  4. “Grenfell renovation proposed temporary removal of fire protections.” 16/6/17 https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/fire-safeguards-in-grenfell-were-temporarily-removed-during-refurbishment/7020464.article to get accessible copy see: https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/grenfell-renovation-proposed-temporary-removal-of-fire-protections/ Key Extract = “To install the new pipes, the ‘fire stopping’ – systems used to seal openings and joints to prevent the spread of fire – would have had to be partially removed, under the ‘preferred option’ listed in a report from 2012 by engineers Max Fordham. The document said this option was adopted.” [Key Question=Were the fire cavity breaks replaced around the 6 x vertical service risers in Grenfell Tower, creating internal chimneys for inter-flat fire spread?]
  5. “Gross negligence manslaughter” 14/8/13 https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/gross-negligence-manslaughter Useful guide to offenses of gross negligence manslaughter compared to corporate manslaughter.
    Key passages = “The police investigate suspected cases of manslaughter. Prosecution decisions are made by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. The Health and Safety Executive is involved through a joint approach to work-related deaths between all the relevant regulatory authorities in line with the principles of the Work-related Deaths Protocol.”
    “The maximum penalty for those convicted of gross negligence manslaughter is life imprisonment. The factors which may be involved in deciding the length of any prison term include whether:
    * multiple deaths were involved,
    * the case involved a prolonged and dangerous course of conduct,
    * there was an awareness of a significant risk of death or really serious injury,
    * warnings had been ignored,
    * the defendant was pursuing a course of conduct for financial gain.” [Note = to see “duty of care” requirement between construction professionals and tenants, see Defective Premises Act 1972 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/35/pdfs/ukpga_19720035_en.pdf ]
     

Corbyn is not who he pretends to be judged by his dictator friendly foreign policy ideas.

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Corbyn is not who he pretends to be judged by his dictator friendly foreign policy ideas.

[Posted by Lara Keller 8/6/17]

On the 26th May 2017 Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the UK Labour Party gave a speech on terrorism and foreign policy (see full text https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/full-text-of-jeremy-corbyns-speech-on-terrorism-and-foreign-policy-after-22nd-may-manchester-terrorist-attack/). He “laid out his vision for British foreign policy”. This speech followed the horrific suicide bomb attack on a concert for young people (among them many children) in Manchester. No sensible person could not applaud his initial heart-felt comments on this heinous act and the need to avoid division.

He then goes on …. “I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. That will almost always mean talking to people you profoundly disagree with. That’s what conflict resolution is all about. But do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, at our borders.”

He was leader of the UK “Stop the War Coalition” between 2011 and 2015. An organisation which arose as a front for the hard-left “Socialists Workers Party” who provide most of its executive officers. There is a “steering committee” that drags in a broader bunch of well-known progressive names, which give it a softer left image. Jeremy Corbyn still stands by this organisation and supports it work. He was one of the founding members as and “officers” while a “back bench” Labour MP in 2001.

Stop The War Coalition always campaigns against any intervention, against the brutal excesses of nominally “leftist” dictatorships. They do not campaign for good intervention, just no intervention. They appear to be a foreign dictator PR firm, designed to dupe the well intentioned. Jeremy Corbyn is lying when he gives the impression he consistently works for “peace and human rights”. A brutal dictatorship is not at peace, and certainly does not defend human rights. The list of dictators campaigned for includes Saddam Hussein, Ali Khamenei (Iran), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) and Bashar Assad (Syria). Several of its prominent founding members also campaigned for Slobodan Milošević back in the 1990s. I am more sympathetic to their campaigns against Western supported dictatorships or ultra nationalist regimes, in particular the destructive Saudi Monarchy and Zionist Israel. However Stop The War’s degree of wilfully naïve partisanship is preposterous.

Jeremy Corbyn then pledges in his speech to end the austerity cuts effecting the emergency and police services. He then goes on to what a Labour Government’s foreign policy would be …. “We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.”

This he says does not reduce the moral responsibility of terrorists ….. “But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism.”

Jeremy Corbyn misses the core reason for Extremist Islamist Terrorism in the West. Extremist Islamist movements come from social conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region). A small minority of Young Muslims in the West are brain washed into believing they can be important supporters of these movements. The root of the problem is in the MENA region.

The objective of Extremist Islamist Terrorism is to get the West to withdraw support for all regimes and retreat from power politics in the region. This goes beyond “wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya”. The 9/11 attacks were justified by the presence of American military support for the Saudi monarchy. Extremist groups claim that their terrorist attacks are due to high profile direct Western military interventions, but why accept their propaganda at face value?

In the same sense Western Intelligence Agencies need to remind the public that they need more resources when more people are recruited to extreme groups, as a result of extremist propaganda that uses propaganda about incompetent direct Western military interventions. The extra supporters means extra expensive surveillance work. This does not mean terrorism would disappear without direct military intervention, what changes is the pattern of recruitment. Once again Corbyn is taking intelligence service PR at face value.

Corbyn’s comment also reveals that he is unable to acknowledge that Libyans were fighting to overthrow the brutal Gaddafi dictatorship, rather than just a “war”. One of these fighters, Salman Abedi, who had turned to so called “Islamic State (IS)” was the Manchester bomber. The initial success of IS – which terrorists are trying to defend – was due to incompetent interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. More effort should have been made in each case to empower local populations to create well-resourced forces under central command to provide security. In each case the West deliberately avoided this strategy, even against direct appeals from opposition activists. Where was the progressive movement to stop this deliberate negligence? Instead the UK got popular ill-informed reactionary “hands off …..” campaigns, with Stop The War Coalition are their core.

Apart from foreign policy, Corbyn’s speech then goes on to state the causes of terrorism include radicalisation that “falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs”. He blandly says ….. “We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism”. The equally bland solution he suggests involves supporting the UK Armed Services and Foreign Office in “engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.” He makes a good point that the UK Army will only get involved when “when there is a plan and you [Army] have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace”. He is taking a swipe at the disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that were motivated by revenge and greed.

His emotional commitment to the UK is that …. “I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people. No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through. …. But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance, to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country, and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won, and that terrorists are so determined to take away……”

A section of rousing volubility ends with a sentiment no one could argue against ….. “[We must] Stand together in memory of those who have lost their lives. Stand together in solidarity with the city of Manchester. And – stand together for democracy. ….. Because when we talk about British values, including tolerance and mutual support, democracy is at the very heart of them. And our General Election campaigns are the centrepieces of our democracy – the moment all our people get to exercise their sovereign authority over their representatives. ….. They all remind us that our government is not chosen at an autocrats’ whim or by religious decree and never cowed by a terrorist’s bomb.”

The problem with this is obvious, he has spent his political career arguing for appeasing the dictators, whose whim chooses governments. He professes to be anti-racist but is content to campaign for non-intervention against brutal dictatorships who deny their non-Western citizens representative government. Even attempting to deny them support when they rise up in rebellion against these dictators and against incredible odds. This stands starkly at odds with “solidarity, humanity and compassion” that he claims will inform a potential Labour Government under Corbyn’s leadership.

If the West does react to Extremist Islamist terrorism by attempting to “minimise that chance” as its only impetrative, then this means giving in, to the core demands of Extremist Islamism that the UK (and by extension of reasoning the West) withdraws from power politics in the MENA region. A region full of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that do not depend for stability on popular domestic support. This means that the vacuum will be filled by other outside powers. This means Russia and China who have zero interest in promoting representative government, and have even less accountable foreign policies, than hypocritical Western foreign policies that can at least be influenced by democratic politics. In any case responding to terrorism by letting foreign extremists dictate foreign policy is not sustainable.

His speech then goes on to reason that respecting democracy makes obligations on election campaigning …. “So, let the quality of our debate, over the next fortnight, be worthy of the country we are proud to defend. Let’s have our arguments without impugning anyone’s patriotism and without diluting the unity with which we stand against terror.” His past political stances on foreign policy, especially with “Stop The War Coalition”, have avoided being both patriotic or progressive. Stating this is a matter of objective reality.

He ends with “Together, we will be stronger. Together we can build a Britain worthy of those who died and those who have inspired us all in Manchester this week.”

If Corbyn was who he pretends to be, then he would know the way to defeat Extremist Islamism, is to act in partnership with the alternative, which is genuine representative government in the Middle East. Lack of Western support for the Arab Democratic Uprising in 2011 has given Extremist Islamism an opportunity to reassert itself as the only alternative to current despotic stagnation. This is the mistake which Corbyn embraces, as does his rival the UK Prime Minister Theresa May (see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/blinkered-theresa-may-and-blinkered-western-extremist-islamists-enough-is-enough/).

Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists Collection:

 [By Lara Keller Last Updated 6th June 2017]

Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists (LK):

Posted 2017

Dear Sir Mark Rylance, Listen To Syrians, Not Stop The War Coalition

God save us. God save Syria.

It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.

Posted 2016

Excellent summary of West progressives’ betrayal of Syrians  (Mark Boothroyd)

Criticism of detached myopia of West-centric expert Marc Lynch on Syria.

Stunning Article Syria’s Voice of Conscience Has a Message for the West

Examination of Pro Assad Attitudes in Briefing Paper for UK Labour Party MPs.

UK Labour Party’s Dishonest Leaked Briefing Paper To MPs Prior To Syria Debate on 11/10/16

Supporting non-action on Assad Death Machine, this is reactionary …..

The strange world of UK Stop The War statement for 2016.

Two Great Articles On “Engaging” with UK “Stop The War Coalition” and their Betrayal Of Syrians.

Posted 2015

Three more brilliant articles on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria.

A great article on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria and Libya.

“Stop The War Coalition” (STWuk) is exactly the problem.

Two excellent articles on one eyed insane “anti-imperialism”.

Excellent article on Syrian Solidarity by Charles Davis

Assad Regime: Arguments Against Non-intervention

Time to look at misjudgements about good intervention. UK Guardian Editorial 2013.

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013] part 2

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013]

 

Full Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on terrorism and foreign policy after 22nd May Manchester Terrorist Attack

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Full Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on terrorism and foreign policy after 22nd May Manchester Terrorist Attack

[Posted by Lara Keller 6/6/17]

Full text of UK Labour Party Leader’s speech given in London on the 26th May following the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester on the 22nd May. The Labour leader laid out his vision for British foreign policy. This is provided for your information, the views expressed by Jeremy Corbyn do not necessarily reflect the views expressed in this site:

“Our whole nation has been united in shock and grief this week as a night out at a concert ended in horrific terror and the brutal slaughter of innocent people enjoying themselves. When I stood on Albert Square at the vigil in Manchester, there was a mood of unwavering defiance. The very act of thousands of people coming together sent a powerful message of solidarity and love. It was a profound human impulse to stand together, caring and strong. It was inspiring.

In the past few days, we have all perhaps thought a bit more about our country, our communities and our people. The people we have lost to atrocious violence or who have suffered grievous injury, so many of them heart-breakingly young .

The people who we ask to protect us and care for us in the emergency services, who yet again did our country proud: the police; firefighters and paramedics; the nurses and doctors; people who never let us down and deserve all the support we can give them. And the people who did their best to help on that dreadful Monday night – the homeless men who rushed towards the carnage to comfort the dying, the taxi drivers who took the stranded home for free, the local people who offered comfort, and even their homes, to the teenagers who couldn’t find their parents.

They are the people of Manchester. But we know that attacks, such as the one at the Manchester Arena, could have happened anywhere and that the people in any city, town or village in Britain would have responded in the same way.

It is these people who are the strength and the heart of our society. They are the country we love and the country we seek to serve. That is the solidarity that defines our United Kingdom. That is the country I meet on the streets every day; the human warmth, the basic decency and kindness.

It is our compassion that defines the Britain I love. And it is compassion that the bereaved families need most of all at this time. To them I say: the whole country reaches out its arms to you and will be here for you not just this week, but in the weeks and years to come. Terrorists and their atrocious acts of cruelty and depravity will never divide us and will never prevail.

They didn’t in Westminster two months ago. They didn’t when Jo Cox was murdered a year ago. They didn’t in London on 7/7. The awe-inspiring response of the people of Manchester, and their inspirational acts of heroism and kindness, are a living demonstration that they will fail again.

But these vicious and contemptible acts do cause profound pain and suffering, and, among a tiny minority, they are used as an opportunity to try to turn communities against each other.

So let us all be clear, the man who unleashed carnage on Manchester, targeting the young and many young girls in particular, is no more representative of Muslims, than the murderer of Jo Cox spoke for anyone else. Young people and especially young women must and will be free to enjoy themselves in our society.

I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. That will almost always mean talking to people you profoundly disagree with. That’s what conflict resolution is all about. But do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, at our borders.

There is no question about the seriousness of what we face. Over recent years, the threat of terrorism has continued to grow. You deserve to know what a Labour Government will do to keep you and your family safe. Our approach will involve change at home and change abroad.

At home, we will reverse the cuts to our emergency services and police. Once again in Manchester, they have proved to be the best of us. Austerity has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door. We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap. There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them.

We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.

That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.

But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.

Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.

Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform. And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre. But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.

That’s why I set out Labour’s approach to foreign policy earlier this month. It is focused on strengthening our national security in an increasingly dangerous world.

We must support our Armed Services, Foreign Office and International Development professionals, engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.

Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed. So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.

I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace.

That is my commitment to our armed services. This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people. No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through.

But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance, to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country, and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won, and that terrorists are so determined to take away. Too often government has got it wrong on all three counts and insecurity is growing as a result. Whoever you decide should lead the next government must do better.

Today, we must stand united. United in our communities, united in our values and united in our determination to not let triumph those who would seek to divide us. So for the rest of this election campaign, we must be out there demonstrating what they would take away: our freedom; our democracy; our support for one another. Democracy will prevail. We must defend our democratic process, win our arguments by discussion and debate, and stand united against those who would seek to take our rights away, or who would divide us.

Last week, I said that the Labour Party was about bringing our country together. Today I do not want to make a narrow party political point. Because all of us now need to stand together. Stand together in memory of those who have lost their lives. Stand together in solidarity with the city of Manchester. And – stand together for democracy.

Because when we talk about British values, including tolerance and mutual support, democracy is at the very heart of them. And our General Election campaigns are the centrepieces of our democracy – the moment all our people get to exercise their sovereign authority over their representatives.

Rallies, debates, campaigning in the marketplaces, knocking on doors, listening to people on the streets, at their workplaces and in their homes – all the arts of peaceful persuasion and discussion – are the stuff of our campaigns.

They all remind us that our government is not chosen at an autocrats’ whim or by religious decree and never cowed by a terrorist’s bomb.

Indeed, carrying on as normal is an act of defiance – democratic defiance – of those who do reject our commitment to democratic freedoms.

But we cannot carry on as though nothing happened in Manchester this week.

So, let the quality of our debate, over the next fortnight, be worthy of the country we are proud to defend. Let’s have our arguments without impugning anyone’s patriotism and without diluting the unity with which we stand against terror.

Together, we will be stronger. Together we can build a Britain worthy of those who died and those who have inspired us all in Manchester this week. Thank you.”

.

Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation Statement on Astana Negotiations, 4th May 2017.

 [By Lara Keller, last updated 6th May 2017]

Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation Statement on Astana Negotiations, 4th May 2017.

According to FSA News, Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation, Statement 4th May 2017. This statement describes the Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation’s surprise at the escalation of Assad Regime shelling and what any acceptable agreement must include ( see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/list-of-significant-issg-communiques-and-un-resolutions-on-syria/ for references ).

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Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation Statement on Astana Negotiations, 3rd May 2017.

 [By Lara Keller, last updated 6th May 2017]

Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation Statement on Astana Negotiations, 3rd May 2017.

According to FSA News, Statement Number 3: Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation, 3rd May 2017. This statement describes the Syrian Revolution’s Military Delegation’s commitment to the Ankara Agreement of Dec 2016, and lists the comprehensive breeches of this agreement by Russia and the Assad Regime. It sets out the determination to ensure specific previous UN resolutions and ISSG Communiques are implemented (see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/list-of-significant-issg-communiques-and-un-resolutions-on-syria/ for references).

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The Non-Interveners , Spain & Syria, Geoffrey Grigson.

The Non-Interveners

In England the handsome Minister with the second
and a half chin and his heart-shaped mind
hanging on his thin watch-chain, the Minister
With gout who shaves low on his holly-stem neck.

In Spain still the brown and gilt and the twisted
pillar, still the olives, and in the mountains
the chocolate trunks of cork trees bare from
the knee, the little smoke from the sides
of the charcoal-burner’s grey tump, the ebony sea-
hedgehogs in the clear water, the cuttle speared
at night; and also the black slime under
the bullet-pocked wall, also the arterial blood
squirting into the curious future, also
the greasy cloud streaked with red in yellow: and,

In England, the ominous grey paper, with its
indifferent headline, its news from our own
correspondent away from the fighting;
and in England the crack-willows, their
wet leaves reversed by the wind; and
the swallows sitting different ways like
notes of music between the black poles on
the five telephone wires.

GEOFFREY GRIGSON (1937)

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Comment = Value this poem.  How like Syria was the diseased non intervention of the democracies in the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. The sentiment of peace at all costs covering up indifference. Spain excused as fear of the Great War, while making  the repetition inevitable. The lakes of blood from Franco’s policy of mass terror. Greasy clouds of chemical gas. The media short term blinkered to the emerging storm, while the swallows already face the longer forecast.