Flop of the Month: Theresa May's botched visit to the Grenfell Tower disaster

The pictures of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at the scene of the Grenfell fire disaster last month spoke volumes about her ability to connect with the public.

Theresa May meets firefighters as she visits Grenfell Tower (Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Theresa May meets firefighters as she visits Grenfell Tower (Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
At least 80 people are already known to have died during the disaster, in the early hours of 14 June, with the final death toll likely to be far higher.

Coming less than a week after the General Election, May needed to channel the shock and horror of the nation and reach out to the survivors on behalf of the people.

It was a moment in which the Prime Minister could have shaken off the 'May-bot' soubriquet she had been saddled with during the election campaign and shown her humanity in the face of suffering. 

Instead, May arrived at the scene of the disaster for a private briefing with the fire fighters who had tackled the blaze and then left without talking to any of the survivors.

It hardly matters that May was reportedly distraught at the carnage she was confronted with. What mattered to the people affected is that she did not hear their anger, their concerns and their grief.

May's visit to a hospital the following day to meet the injured did not help. The damage was already done.

Within hours, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had also visited the scene and the enduring image was of him with his arm around a distraught woman showing genuine empathy.

The contrast, in the eyes of the public, could hardly be clearer and a visit by the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge, in which they met survivors and volunteers, only highlighted May’s inadequacy further.
Read next: New PM May must find balance between steel and compassion

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