The past two weeks have seen England fall victim to two separate terrorist attacks, with multiple fatalities in each. I’m fortunate that neither myself or any close friends or family have been directly affected, although some friends know people who were at the Manchester Arena that night and who thankfully were unhurt.
We Brits have had to face the aftermath of many terrorist attacks over the years. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was the IRA; more recently, it’s been Islamic extremists. Each time we’ve mourned the dead, showed solidarity, and then moved on. The terrorists want us to be scared and retaliate, and to demonise those that look like them, or practice the same religion. We can’t give them that satisfaction. The best thing we can do is carry on living our lives as we did before.
The Manchester attack was more upsetting for me. Manchester isn’t that far away from us, and the fact that many of the victims were children was particularly sad. Whilst I hate to use the phrase, ‘As a parent…’, I can’t help but feel that being a parent upsets you more when you hear about children being killed or injured. If Lizzie had been older, that could have been her, or Christine, or me. Jo Cox’s assassination last year hit me hard as well, knowing that her two children wouldn’t see their mother again. And imagining what I would do if I was in the same situation as her husband, Brendan.
Logistically the Manchester attack affected me slightly, as the trains that I get to and from work start and terminate at Manchester Victoria station. The station is located below the arena and was treated as part of the crime scene; consequently it was closed for a week whilst the police gathered evidence. This had a knock-on effect with the trains being less reliable. Despite this, the police have a duty to the victims and their families to investigate this properly, and so I can understand why the station had to be closed for so long.
The London attack took place just a few hours after we left the city. I think we were fortunate there, but London is a resilient city and I don’t think we would have had much trouble getting home on Sunday had we stayed over on Saturday night.
The general election will still go ahead on Thursday, as it should. To me, terrorism is a political act, and I think it is right to politicise the attacks – especially during an election campaign. I agree that it was right to suspend the national campaigns for a few days each time as a mark of respect to the victims, but I also feel that the Coalition and Conservative governments’ policies of cutting the number of police officers, and security service resources, may have been partly responsible for these attacks taking place. In both cases, the attackers have previously been known to police; surely more could have been done with existing police and surveillance powers?
Labour, if elected, will reverse the police cuts. Please bear this in mind when you go to vote on Thursday, if you haven’t already voted by post.