26 May

My Eye – A moment’s pause

Senior Account Executive Jack Gibson gives his thoughts, as the General Election campaign resumes.

After being paused for two days in the wake of the horrific attack in Manchester earlier this week, the General Election campaign is back underway. In GB, the tragedy at the Ariana Grande concert looks set to dominate the rhetoric between the parties for the remainder of the campaign.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will today make an address linking the tragedy directly to the UK’s foreign policy. Mr Corbyn is to say that Britain “must change what we do abroad”, and that “we must be brave enough to admit that the ‘War on Terror’ simply is not working.”

Corbyn is likely feeling emboldened, as his party has benefited from a ten-point swing in the polls this week according to pollsters YouGov. However, whether his remarks later today will prove palatable to voters, or to his own party – which, after all, oversaw the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd has hit back at Labour claims that the Manchester atrocity was related to her party’s cuts to the police budget.

Regardless of whether Labour’s claims are fair, the fact remains that the deployment of troops onto the streets does seem to be related to a shortage of police officers. There are currently 5,500 armed police officers in England and Wales – half the number there were 15 years ago.

While troops have been deployed across much of GB, they will not – for obvious reasons – be deployed here in Northern Ireland. The head of the PSNI, Chief Constable George Hamilton, said there was no need to bring soldiers “on to the streets of our post-conflict society.”

As ever, we remain a special case…

The response to the atrocity from the people of Manchester has been wonderful. The city has come together, determined not to lose its values in the wake of the tragedy.

As we move back into the relative ‘normality’ of the General Election Campaign, we should take a moment to reflect on Manchester’s response. We are lucky to live in a democracy, and a society that is still – for all its faults – relatively open and welcoming.

The vote on June 8 is a means to help define what sort of society we want to live in. By engaging with the democratic process, and casting our votes, we will be doing our bit to ensure that Northern Ireland remains a good place to live.

This article was originally published as part of the Chambré Public Affairs General Election 2017 Bulletin – your free guide to the 2017 General Election in Northern Ireland. To subscribe, please click here and fill out the short form

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