Campaigning has been suspended for much of this week, in honour of those innocents who were massacred in Manchester. As Britain sought to understand what had happened – an impossible task – our politicians reached for whatever words they could find to express our horror and our disgust. But it fell, aptly, to the poets and the lyricists of the North to truly capture the spirit of the moment. Tony Walsh, known as Longfella, read his love letter to Manchester on the steps of the town hall to a defiant crowd. Spontaneously, first as a ripple and then as a roar, Mancunians belted out Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger when the minute’s silence ended. Theresa May is good at speaking to a heartbroken country but she has nothing on Liam and Noel.
Only UKIP, in all their ghoulish faux-tweed grandeur broke, the welcome quietness from our politicians. Paul Nuttall launched his manifesto regardless. It is as silly and as spiteful as you would expect.
This weekend canvassers will be back on the doorsteps. Their duty in our democracy. Labour are buoyed by polling that shows they have cut May’s lead to just five points. Corbyn, who feels vindicated on his non-interventionist foreign policy, believes that voters are now ready to hear something completely different on defence and security – he is speaking on the issue today. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party is bewildered and frightened by the Labour surge. They hope and expect that Labour are not winning hearts and minds in marginals and targets – but they are less confident than they were just a week ago. It is very unlikely that – even with further gains – Labour would actually scrape a victory. The SNP’s continued strength and Labour’s continued weakness in Scotland makes the arithmetic almost impossible. Britain could end up in the strange situation of being denied a Labour Government by Scottish voters.
Questions will rightly be asked about whether our police are well enough resourced, whether Prevent is successfully preventing radicalisation, whether our foreign policy helps or hinders. But in the back of all our minds, lingering as frontbenchers battle it out on the airwaves and backbenchers panic in their constituencies, the big question will be: can we stop it from happening again? And if we could, would we be prepared to pay whatever toll that would take?
Scores on the Doors:
Poll of Polls (Britain Elects; May 25) – Con 46; Lab 32.9; Lib Dem 7.9; UKIP 4.6; Grn 2.4
Bookies Odds (Ladbrokes GE Overall Majority) – Con Maj 1/6; No Overall Maj 7/1; Labour Maj 12/1; Lib Dem Maj 500/1; UKIP Maj 1,000/1
Quote of the Week: “This is the place to do business, then dance.” Poet Tony Walsh recites emotional poem at a vigil in Manchester in honour of the victims of this week’s terror attack at the Manchester Arena.