After the horrific attacks in Manchester on Monday evening, in which 22 people tragically lost their lives, Theresa May announced that General Election campaigning would be suspended. Campaigning will now resume, starting with local campaigning today followed by national campaigning tomorrow.
Momentum have organised a series of campaigning sessions, including trips to Crewe and Nantwich with candidate Laura Smith and Bolton North East with their candidate David Crosby. You can get more details from Momentum here. Momentum are also holding Bernie Sanders style training sessions across the country to get you doorstep ready. You can find your nearest training session here.
If you’re wanting to campaign but aren’t sure where your nearest marginal might be, or don’t have the means to travel there, then check out Momentum’s My Nearest Marginal, a tool which has allowed over 35,000 users so far to get out on the doorstep and carpool with others.
The investigation into Monday’s atrocity is being hampered by repeated leaks of information from the United States. Photographs from the scene of Monday’s suicide bombing were leaked to the New York Times yesterday, while the day before, the name of the bomber was also leaked by US intelligence officials, having been passed the information by the UK. The Telegraph also have the story this morning that Abedi was repeatedly reported to authorities, as many as five times. This will continue to fuel debate about the efficacy of the UK’s current counterterrorism policies, such as the controversial Prevent duty, which the former head of MI5 said was “clearly not working”.
Theresa May has also become the first prime minister to trigger ‘Operation Temperer’, a plan drawn up under David Cameron to post 5,000 troops across strategic sites across the UK in response to a major terrorist threat or attack. The plan was devised in 2015 but kept secret until leaked to a newspaper. When news of the plan leaked in July 2015, army chiefs were said to be reluctant that it should ever be used, for the reason that once deployed it might be difficult to withdraw the troops. That would require an admission from ministers that the threat level had fallen.
The prime minister has in turn been criticised by the Police Federation, whose Chair, Steve White, said:
As welcome as this is, we cannot avoid the reasons it is needed at all. There is no ignoring the fact that we, the police, simply do not have the resources to manage an event like this on our own.
We cannot lose focus on the challenge ahead – and that is ensuring we have a resilient fully-resourced police service, capable of not just reacting to contain a terrorist outrage but also acting to prevent atrocities in the first place.
A minute’s silence will be held for the victims at 11am today across the UK.
Weak and wobbly
With the General Election campaign back underway, a reminder of the polling situation from the weekend. YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times last weekend had the Conservatives on 44 points to Labour’s 35. That would mean a lead of 24 points in the same YouGov poll a month before had been cut to just 9, while a vote share of 35 could give Corbyn more votes than Miliband in 2015, Brown in 2010, and even Blair in 2005. Even given the large Conservative lead, Labour would perhaps only lose a handful of seats.
At a time when social democratic parties are collapsing across Europe, in many cases for implementing austerity and other policies which harm their own base. Corbyn’s stubborn refusal to let the Labour Party go down the same route has shown that Labour can survive.
Would things be different without Corbyn? Quite possibly – but it’s hard to see how they would be any better. After all, Owen Smith had pledged a second referendum on the EU, and it’s hard to see Labour reaching anywhere near our current polling levels with such a pledge.
May came in for heavy criticism in Sunday’s papers, and had a brutal experience during Andrew Neil’s interview with her on Monday evening, for her U-turn on social care, when she said that her party would now introduce a cap on costs. Jeremy Hunt told the Huffington Post that:
The reason we don’t think it’s fair is because you could have a situation where someone who owns a house worth £1 million, £2 million, has expensive care costs of perhaps £100,000 or £200,000, ends up under that proposal not having to pay those care costs because they are capped and those costs get borne by taxpayers.
May has now been forced into a second ‘clarification’, as she would term it, after realising that her ‘Breakfast Club’ pledge, costed at £60m, would mean just 7p for every child. Schools Week report that an Education Datalab analysis shows that if only half of pupils take up free breakfasts at a cost of 25p each, the likely cost of the policy would be more than £400 million.