The murder of Jo Cox was politicised and weaponised within 24 hours of it happening, and that awful event continues to be a dependable default reference whenever a (usually) Labour MP needs a few re-tweets to stand out during a rowdy Commons debate. Therefore, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Friday’s grisly incident on London Bridge provoked a similar response with similar haste. Remainers have made a big deal out of the fact that one of the extremely brave members of the public to subdue the wannabe Jihadist with nothing more than fire extinguisher and whale’s tusk was Polish – thus apparently demonstrating the benefits of free movement; the Conservatives have blamed the presence of the killer on early release laws introduced by the last Labour Government; Labour have apportioned blame to Tory cuts in police numbers, the security services, mental health support, prison officers and…oh, I dunno…the weather?
In truth, it was probably a combination of all the factors mentioned rather than one isolated element. Just as hectic was the swift addition of further information in the hours following the attack that left two people dead – that one of those who held the killer down was himself a convicted murderer on day release; or that the presumed ‘ordinary member of the public’ seen holding a bloodied knife and urging pedestrians to move away was in fact an undercover member of the security services. And then there were questions over the fact what appeared to be a disarmed assailant on the ground was shot dead point blank by the police. Then it turned out he was wearing a suicide vest he was allegedly poised to detonate – a vest that was found out to be fake once it could be examined on his lifeless body.
I saw the ‘uncut’ footage on Twitter, though not through voyeuristic searching, mind; it was my first exposure to the incident rather than TV or radio and I didn’t know what to expect before I saw it. Yes, it was shocking, but before the MSM news became squeamish, such graphic images of unpleasant incidents used to air on bulletins, perhaps in order to show grownups the brutal realities of brutal events rather than the ‘I’m sure the viewers at home don’t want to see that’ approach in place today. Anyway, it wasn’t nice, but neither was what Usman Khan did in the name of Allah.
Of course, it’s not much more than a couple of years since the last General Election campaign was momentarily derailed by terrorist incidents and, lest we forget, Jo Cox was murdered just days away from the 2016 EU Referendum. It seems that such high profile political events are now viewed as a prime platform for any stray radicalised lunatic to have slipped under the MI5 radar to achieve tawdry immortality; and the fact these campaigns have become more regular than the World Cup or the Olympics over the past half-decade means there are growing opportunities for the deluded and deranged in this particular branch of showbiz. The Jihadi community must be looking forward to the prospect of a People’s Vote and another Scottish Independence Referendum.
The ramifications of London Bridge have naturally fed into the Election narrative, but it’s a sad measure of how normalised such attacks have now become that just as much coverage is still being given to the usual electioneering point-scoring. Boris won’t submit to an Andrew Neil grilling, Channel 4 replaces the absent Boris with a block of ice, then the incurably-unlikeable Michael Gove strolls into Channel 4 HQ accompanied by his own film crew in a desperately cheap stunt; Jezza is still being pilloried for his inability to apologise to British Jews for the anti-Semitic elements in his own party; and the electorate are still being cornered in vox-pops, only to express the same despair with the choices on offer as they expressed before the PM even announced the date.
When this General Election was called, there was a brief hoo-hah over the fact it was scheduled just a couple of weeks before Christmas – as though a two-minute detour into the nearest polling station to scrawl a cross on a piece of paper was a massive inconvenience to a populace who would be devoting every spare moment for a whole month to trudging up and down shopping malls. Who’d have thought you could buy the lot on Amazon these days, eh? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m quite happy about the timing. If it pushes the relentlessly tedious festive juggernaut out of the spotlight for a week or two, I’m all for it. Cut the ‘Christmas Month’ back to the ‘Christmas Fortnight’ we used to have and I won’t be complaining.
Last week’s YouGov poll placed the Tories on course for a 68-seat majority, though we should all pause before accepting this prediction as Gospel following the pollsters’ performance in 2017. Having said that, it’s difficult to see how – valid points re the NHS and Universal Credit not withstanding – the Labour Party won’t be indulging in one of its perennial soul-searching sessions once all the results are in. More so than last time round, it looks like this really will be the Election Labour lost rather than the one the Tories won; as stated in a previous post, it’s hard to think of an incumbent administration in power for almost a decade that has presented its opponent with so many open goals and yet still stands poised to be returned to office. Both Labour – in its belated realisation it needs to reclaim its Leave voters – and the Lib Dems – backtracking on their ‘Cancel Brexit’ brainwave – are now attempting to prove the pollsters wrong; though one can’t help but feel they’ve already missed the boat.
Apparently, there was another one of those seven-way ‘leader’s’ debates on ITV last night, something I’ve only just found out about whilst writing this at 1.45am; mind you, I saw the similar one on the BBC last week and came to the same conclusion that prompted Andrew Oldham to axe ‘Sixth Stone’ Ian Stewart from the band in 1963 – that five is the absolute limit when it comes to any kind of ensemble. Any more than that and the audience are struggling to get a grip on who’s who. Mind you, I didn’t even know the stand-in for Boris who’s apparently a member of the Cabinet, but I guessed correctly that he’d defend his party’s immigration policy by mentioning his ethnic origins in true Sajid Javid style as soon as he opened his mouth. I see Farage was the cat amongst the careerist pigeons on the ITV outing, so it might be worth skimming through on catch-up to see how much he winds up the likes of Jo Swinson and Sian Berry. That’s entertainment.
Well, we have just over a week to choose between shit and shitter now. I was marked as a ‘don’t-know’ by the Labour canvasser who door-stepped me last week, and I think he was probably pretty accurate in his summary. I reckon I’ll probably continue to be so until the moment I’m in that bloody polling booth again. Come back, Screaming Lord Sutch. All is forgiven.
© The Editor