After an apt campaign pause, civilised election debate should resume

Morning View
Morning View

The horror at the Manchester attack was such that a lull in the general election campaign was apt.

The fact that children were killed, deliberately, in Monday’s atrocity has heightened the sense of outrage and national solidarity and the desire to take a break from partisan political campaigning.

It is now time for that campaign to continue, albeit in a sensitive way in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.

Soon the campaign will get aggressive and at points will be bruising, and that is how it must be.

There will be other terrorist attacks in the future, perhaps many. We can only hope that the number of people who are attracted to Islamic extremism stays small, and that their ability to inflict damage on civilians recedes. But the Manchester Arena bombing is said to have been carefully planned, and to have involved new tactics.

That suggests there will be other attacks, perhaps many times worse in magnitude.

This is an unspeakable prospect, but Britain has been through much worse in living memory. Tens of thousands of civilians across the UK were slaughtered in the 1941 Blitz, and more than 1,000 of the dead were killed in Belfast over a mere three nights of bombing.

Life, including the lifeblood of democracy – general elections – must go on.

In Northern Ireland we weathered 30 years of IRA and loyalist murders and gradually the terrorists were defeated.

Manchester, alongside other atrocities in cities such as Paris and Berlin and Nice, have been met with the restraint and stoicism that was shown in this Province during the Troubles.

The election will raise serious questions of national security, and how the parties respond to that, but the ultimate issues and the ultimate outcomes at stake are much larger than that.

It is time for civilised debating to resume.

We cannot have terrorists calculating that further attacks will bring the UK to a standstill.