FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2017

MAGNIFICENT MANCHESTER

 

TONY SPEAKS FOR THE CITY.

Not for the first time a Tony speaks for Manchester. Ten years ago, it was the late Tony Wilson who could express the character of this kind, gritty city. On Tuesday it was poet Tony Walsh. His composition “This Is The Place” read out to a huge crowd in sunny Albert Square was just what was needed to try and pierce the blackness and fear caused by the abominable attack on young people at the Manchester Arena.

Terrible events bring out the best in the vast majority of us. If only, if only it wasn’t needed so often these days. But there it was for the world to see. The interviews with the young people who were at the Arena, and survived,were eloquent, thoughtful and sensitive. What a world we are handing over to them. We don’t deserve them. Then there were the Asian taxi drivers, waiving their fares to get people home and the takeaway shops throwing open their doors. That’s the answer to the so-called Islamic State’s attempt to divide us.

BACK TO THE ELECTION.

Terrorists hate democracy and therefore I agree, for once, with UKIP who were first to resume campaigning. It is a difficult matter to balance respect for the searing pain the bereaved and injured will be suffering and the need to demonstrate that we will not be prevented from our democratic business.

What effect will the terrorist attack have on the election? Casual and cynical observations that it will help the “law and order Tories” are offensive. Conservative candidates are overwhelmed with sadness in the same way as anyone else; and Mrs May has the burden of this tragedy being on her watch. There is a perception that people will swing to the right under terrorist provocation. That did not happen in France, although Marine Le Pen was a far less palatable candidate than Mrs May.

I’m sad to say that Labour could suffer from this terrible event, not because of a natural swing to the right in such circumstances, but because Jeremy Corbyn continues to be damaged by past ambiguous answers on his attitude to the IRA.

WOBBLY MAY.

Until Monday’s atrocity, Theresa May’s assertion that her strong and stable leadership was just what was wanted for those Brexit talks, was looking far less credible.

I don’t want antagonistic negotiations with 27 countries that should still be our partners in building an ever closer union. However, that ship seems to have sailed. If voters are looking for a Prime Minister who knows her mind, thinks things through and isn’t blown off course by the first whiff of trouble, why would you vote for May?

She called a General Election that she vowed not to do. She raised National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers and then back tracked. She then proposed a system whereby long term dementia sufferers could pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in home care fees before announcing a cap four days later. The EU negotiators must be rubbing their hands.

A final point, I gave some stick to Labour last week for uncosted manifesto promises. The Tory manifesto is also littered with them. The cost of cutting immigration, the £8bn for the NHS, and the cut off point for winter fuel allowances all have no price tags. Perhaps they are going to pay for it with rises in National Insurance and Income Tax!

 

 

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