Shropshire Star comment: Don't turn terror attack into political ammunition

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Within hours of the devastating London Bridge terror attack, politicians were lining up to score points off each other.

Leanne O’Brien, the girlfriend of attack victim Jack Merritt, is comforted by family members during a vigil in Cambridge

At a time when deep reflection was required, some senior party figures instead chose to play the blame games.

For Labour, it was a chance to shine a light on the Tories’ less than impressive record on law and order over the last nine years.

The Tories hit back, claiming that the vile terrorist who committed Friday’s atrocity was only on the streets as a result of legislation brought in by a previous Labour administration.

While a nation mourned, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn effectively stood pointing at each other insisting: “It’s all his fault.”

The collective response from our politicians should have been measured.

It should have taken into account the feelings of the friends and families of those who were murdered in cold blood at the hands of a terrorist.

Instead we were presented with the unedifying sight of our Prime Minister blaming a “lefty government” for the early release of terror prisoners such as London Bridge attacker Usman Khan.

Meanwhile Mr Corbyn chose to consider whether it was all Britain’s fault, suggesting our military interventions in the past had fuelled radicalisation and terrorism.


So much for the apparent suspension of campaigning to allow the country to come to terms with what had happened.


Mr Johnson’s camp will no doubt have been thinking about what happened to Theresa May during the 2017 election campaign when, after the Manchester bombings, she spent a week on the back foot over police cuts.

But any concerns that this attack could have a similarly damaging impact on the Tories election chances have hardly been allayed by the PM’s response.


In many quarters his comments are likely to have been viewed as crass and distasteful. It is noticeable that both main parties have adopted a more thoughtful approach in the last 24 hours.

It is just as well, with friends and families of the victims lining the streets to pay tribute in a series of vigils.

Whoever is elected as the next Prime Minister needs to take swift action to ensure that our criminal justice system is properly equipped to deal with terrorists. Not only must our police and security services be given the resources to combat this evil scourge, but our courts require stronger powers to prevent the early release of violent offenders.

The whole issue of how we rehabilitate such individuals – as well as how they are monitored on release – needs a full review. As does our prison system, which is already creaking under the strain due to a lack of space and outdated facilities.

There is, undoubtedly, a very long list of issues that need to be addressed. And in successive governments over the last 20 years, none of the main parties can honestly say they have succeeded in keeping the public safe. There is a time and a place for everything.

In the eyes of many, the fact that some of our politicians attempted to turn a terror attack into an election issue shows just how far they have fallen.


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