A week is a long time in politics. This time seven days ago, the Conservatives had just launched their election manifesto, and were having to beat off criticism for its lack of costing, and controversial planned changes to social care.
Labour appeared to be gaining ground, with their own manifesto launch proving largely popular with the electorate. The poll gap was closing, and for the first time since calling the election in April, Theresa May looked to be on the back-foot.
Following the tragic events on Monday night however, that all changed. Election campaigning was immediately halted, in respect for the families of the 22 people who horrifically had their lives cut short.
After a three day pause, national election campaigning resumed in full today. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have taken every opportunity to regain some of the momentum lost after Monday’s horrific Manchester attack.
Speaking in London, Corbyn offered a heartfelt tribute to the dead, before praising the country’s security services for continuing to work to keep the nation safe.
Corbyn’s opponents, however, didn’t waste any time in fiercely criticising the Labour leader for his claim that a reduction in wars fought abroad would mean a lesser threat of terrorism at home.
Many stated that such a narrative played into the hands of the extremists themselves, and that Corbyn was guilty of exploiting the tragedy in Manchester for simple political gain.
He claimed to be citing experts on international terrorism, and promised a “change at home and change abroad” should Labour win the general election in June. Along with a new foreign policy approach towards intervention and security, Corbyn pledged to reverse cuts to police spending.
Speaking to Liverpudlians passing through Exchange Flags, we asked if they agreed with Corbyn’s linking of international warfare and domestic terrorism. The result was a strong consensus in support of Corbyn’s claims, although most criticised him for the timing of the statement.
“I think there’s got to be a link,” one man told us. “I don’t think it’s coincidental that a lot of the major attacks have been on France and the UK. Places that have been involved in major bombing campaigns with the Americans. We do need to reconsider our foreign policy.”
“Maybe he could have waited a little bit longer,” another told us. “It’s disrespectful and you’ll only get people angrier, and you’re going to start problems if people get angrier.”
Some however argued that the timing was perfect, as it was more likely that people would be willing to engage with these complex issues after an attack such as this.
“I think disrespectful might be the wrong word to use,” a woman said.
“I think it would be much more disrespectful to go and chuck bombs at another country to be honest, as that just exasperates what’s already happening. I agree with Corbyn completely.
“Maybe it’s a little bit too soon, but when else is an appropriate time to bring the topic up? As it’s happening is the time that it’s going to be most powerful and most effective.”
Not everyone was full of praise for Corbyn however. One man expressed his support for the approach taken by the controversial incumbent of the White House in Washington DC.
“At the moment, I agree with Trump and the travel ban,” he told us. “We need serious immigration checks, and Corbyn needs to revise his policies.”
It is unclear how a travel ban would stop home-grown terrorism such as that seen in the case of the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi.
Thank you to the Liverpool Echo for their fantastic microphone!