This was the third terrorist attack since Theresa May became prime minister. It was the second during the campaign for the June 8 U.K. general election. Impact on the election is unclear.
- ‘Things need to change’.
- Britain has been too tolerant of extremism in the UK.
- We are witnessing copycat terrorism.
- We need to see action from big internet companies.
- Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy will be reviewed and prison sentences may increase.
- Military intervention alone won’t deal with Islamic extremism.
- Five plots have been stopped since March.
- The general election will go ahead on Thursday.
In regards to point 1, May stated, “We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.”
In regards to Point 2, May stated, “there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.”
In regards to point 3, May stated, “Terrorism breeds terrorism and perpetrators copy another and often using the crudest of means of attack”
In Regards to point 4, May stated, “[We] cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.”
Terror Dominates Election
March 22 Parliament Attack
A lone attacker drove his car across Westminster Bridge, mounting the sidewalk and mowing down pedestrians before running into the precincts of parliament and stabbing a police officer. He was shot dead. Five people died.
May’s message: “Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal,” she said. “Londoners — and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City — will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.”
What Corbyn said: “I know that Londoners and people across the country will stand together in defense of our values and diversity.”
May 22 Manchester Bombing
The British-born son of Libyan refugees detonated a bomb in Manchester at 10:30 p.m. as teenagers, parents and their young children left a pop concert. Twenty-two people died. May stayed up most of the night coordinating the response to the attack and appeared outside her residence the following morning and later in the evening to announce the threat level would be raised to “critical,” the highest level.
May’s message: “We will take every measure available to us and provide every additional resource we can to the police and the security services as they work to protect the public. And while we mourn the victims of last night’s appalling attack, we stand defiant. The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier than the sick plots of depraved terrorists, that is why the terrorists will never win and we will prevail.”’
What Corbyn said: “This is an appalling act of violence against people, and it must be totally and unreservedly and completely condemned. We must support those people who have suffered so much. In these circumstances we have to come together.”
Campaigning was then suspended for three days and, when it restarted, Corbyn wore a black tie as he delivered a speech on U.K. foreign policy in central London. “The ‘war on terror’ is simply not working,” he said as he made the case for an overhaul of foreign policy and criticized May’s government for squeezing police budgets.
“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home,” Corbyn, a long-time critic of U.K. foreign interventions, said.
At a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Sicily, May was swift and brutal in her response as polls showed her lead slipping. “I have been here today at the G-7 working with other international leaders to fight terrorism. At the same time Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault,” May said, breaking with the show of cross-party unity after the attack.
Election Home Stretch
On June 2, in a question and answer sessions with voters on BBC TV, Corbyn was repeatedly asked about his failure to condemn bombings by the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group that carried out a series of attacks in Britain. He was not asked about Islamist extremism.
The following day, at around 10 p.m., a white van drove into pedestrians in central London. Three men with fake suicide vests began to knife people on a Saturday night out. Seven were killed before the three attackers were shot dead by police, eight minutes after they were called.
May’s rhetoric has certainly changed. Will terrorism impact the election? Which way?
Mike “Mish” Shedlock