I would like to begin by sending my condolences to all the victims and those affected by the tragic events in London over the weekend. On behalf of all the team at The Backbencher, our thoughts go out to and we stand with you in this difficult time.
The callous terrorist attack that occurred over the weekend on Saturday night has thrown the election campaigns into sharp relief. It reaffirms to us the importance of voting, and of democracy, in times of great difficulty.
The attack carried out on London Bridge, on Saturday night, was perpetrated by three attackers – the names of which have not yet been released by the Police. Seven people were killed and a further 48 were injured. The incident started as the attackers drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and then got out to viciously, and randomly, stab those who were in Borough Market. Armed police responded within eight minutes killing all three attackers. Investigations, and raids, continue to take place to establish the scope of the organisation involved in planning the attack.
Following the attack, Theresa May took to the podium outside Downing Street to announce: ‘Enough is enough.’ She said that although none of the recent attacks were directly connected, all of them were bound by ‘Islamist extremism’ which is ‘a perversion of Islam’. The Prime Minister also claimed that the Internet provides ‘safe spaces’ for extremism, again pushing her agenda of Internet regulation. She went on to say that the counter terrorism strategy should be reviewed – including potentially longer sentences. The Prime Minister then concluded by saying that the two major political parties – Labour and the Conservatives – would suspend their campaigns, however, the election would still take place as planned.
The aftermath of the attack has been personally difficult for Theresa May as she faces difficult questions over her time as Home Secretary. Most of the focus surrounds the cutting over 20,000 police officers during that time. This could potentially cause problems for the Conservatives in the run up to an election in which their strategy was to set out a clear choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and their respective records.
Jeremy Corbyn responded to the attack by saying ‘democracy must prevail’ in a time that has been ‘the worst’ in a run up to an election. He also added that we should ‘reflect on the need to have sufficient police officers on our streets.’ The opposition leader may struggle to convince people he is the man to increase the security of nation following a difficult time on the BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special in relation to his views on nuclear weapons. Questions also persist over Corbyn’s previous links to suspected terrorists and militant organisations. This comes at a bad time for Labour who had previously been narrowing the polls in the weeks leading up to the election.
The election on June 8 is now more important than ever. We all have a duty to exercise our democratic right to vote, to show that democracy can, and will, prevail.