23 May 2017

Election paused after Manchester attack

This was the moment the election was meant to be moving into a higher gear. Many voters, the rubric tells us, don’t pay much attention until the last third of the campaign and the parties’ efforts are geared to that.

Instead, in remembrance and in horror, the leaflets are sitting undelivered, the campaign venues becalmed.

After the tragic murder of Jo Cox in the referendum campaign, the time set aside for tributes in the House of Commons gave a sense of a coming together, a “moment” with which the nation could mark its outrage and honour Jo Cox as a politician and an individual.

With Parliament dissolved, No. 10 very quickly worked out that no such parliamentary occasion could be mustered to mark last night’s mass murder. Without such a moment, politicians will feel it is indecent to resume the campaign. But, not resuming the campaign, they will feel, would be too much of a victory to hand those who perpetrated last night’s attack.

The Prime Minister Responds To Manchester Terrorist Attack

Back in the 2015 campaign, journalists were told of chatter that jihadist groups were determined to attack during the campaign if they could. We may never know how many attempted attacks were foiled in that period but none came to fruition. Although there must be a suspicion that the election was the focus of this attack it is possible that the suicide bombing was planned and the venue checked out before an election was even announced.

The 2004 Atocha Madrid train attack, three days before the general election in Spain, was intended to target the democratic process. In the event, experts have estimated that one million voters changed their minds, shifting against the right wing governing party which supported military action in Iraq and towards the Socialist Party, which opposed Spanish military involvement in Iraq.

This attack may not effect any major shift in policy but it is bound to affect the tone of the campaign when the election resumes.


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