Let me begin by saying this, I am not suggesting that the attack on Manchester was sanctioned by the Conservative Party or any of its supporters. Some have suggested that the Manchester bombing was a “false flag” attack (orchestrated by the British state in order to influence the outcome of the General Election), but these claims are deeply unhelpful and insensitive in the light of such an attack.
What I am suggesting, is that the response of the government in the aftermath of the attack has certainly been carried out with the upcoming general election in mind – an event of this type couldn’t have come at a better time for Theresa May and the Conservative’s.
Before the attack, Theresa May was coming under considerable pressure for her attack on pensioners in the Conservative manifesto, specifically the so-called “dementia tax” where she and her party seemed all at odds and were forced into a u-turn. May looked like a woman on the brink, as Labour narrowed the gap in the polls and Jeremy Corbyn found his voice. There was a feeling that the tide might be shifting, and that the public had finally seen Theresa May for what she is; uncaring, out of touch, and incompetent.
Now, Jeremy Corbyn has found it hard to make his voice heard as the media focus on the Prime Minister, and all the momentum has been taken out of criticism of the Tory manifesto. Whilst not within anyone’s control, and the decision to suspend campaigning was correct, the break has no doubt benefitted the Conservative Party – and you’d be a fool to think that they have not realised this, and discussed what they can do to make the most of such an opportunity.
Mrs May could have perhaps shared the stage with Labour as her ministers have done. She could have invited Jeremy Corbyn to visit Manchester with her. This would have shown in a time of national tragedy, that there were more important things than party politics. Instead, May has used the opportunity to try and shore up the image that she is a strong leader.
The deployment of troops onto our streets would be a shock at the best of times, but in the run-up to a general election it creates an unsettling atmosphere which we may be used to seeing in other countries, but not here in Britain. Such an atmosphere risks undermining our democracy, and it seems that the Tories are prepared to milk it for all it is worth.
Of course, there could be evidence of an impending attack, hence the raising of the threat level to “critical” meaning that an attack is considered imminent, and this decision may help to allay the fears of some of the public – but it is hard not to be cynical considering the mood plays right into the hands of the Tory election strategy.
The military presence will be a reminder in human form that the terrorist threat level has been raised from severe to critical for the first time in a decade. This could not tie in better with the Conservative line of attack that Jeremy Corbyn is a “threat to national security” or a “terrorist sympathiser” and the attempts of the right wing press to smear him with alleged links to the IRA. These claims are of course ridiculous, Corbyn has full security clearance and is a member of the Privy Council, would anybody linked with Terrorism have either?
There have been reports already of Conservative canvassers knocking on doors and asking if voters thought that a “terrorist sympathiser” as prime minister would be good for the country.
This is disgraceful behaviour, and the self-styled “nasty party” are certainly living up to that name by exploiting such a tragic event to benefit them politically. Even if you do not detect any questionable motives, you should worry about this development and hope it won’t last long.
The Tories in government have spent the last seven years putting their ideological austerity agenda above the security needs of the nation. We have lost 20,000 police officers during their time in office, with alleged plans for a further reduction of 4,000. Perhaps May would not need to deploy them army if police officers numbers hadn’t been so radically cut?
Theresa May’s government continue to sell arms to Saudia Arabia, despite concerns that they have provided support to ISIS. If the Conservative’s really cared about the security of the public they would cease this trade arrangement with immediate effect.
On the last two occasions troops were deployed to the streets this lasted no more than a few days, they cannot still be there when people are heading out the voting stations. We should not allow them to remain to reinforce an image of toughness of the current government. It cannot be allowed to become a one issue election. This is about democracy, not about a spectator sport and a show of militaristic strength. Martial law is not yet a reality in the United Kingdom.
This seems to be a show of force for the purpose of the public, not about security. May is exploiting the feelings of fear and grief to affect her public ratings in the run-up to the general election. After repeating the line ceaselessly, May is taking the opportunity to hammer home just how “strong and stable” she wants us to believe she is.
We are heading into a general election that may be one of the most consequential of our lifetimes: May must not be allowed to let national tragedy play to her advantage.