Tragedy makes politics more important. So why suspend campaigning?
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Much as I dislike having to say it, I find myself in agreement with Paul Nuttall. UKIP are to resume their general election campaign today, having – and like the rest – suspended it after the attack in Manchester. The Labour Party will not officially recommence their campaign until Friday, and the same is true of the Conservative Party. Paul Nuttall’s reasoning, though, is sound: at a time when we are constantly told that we will go about our business as normal, that nothing will change, that terrorism will not break us or force us to display aberrant behaviour (except, of course, that we now have soldiers on our streets and must all conform to sickly campaigns for ‘unity’, which is a very un-British concept), it is surely hypocritical to prolong the suspension of political campaigns. Announcing his decision, Mr Nuttall said: ‘For those who say that nothing must change, but then complain, it is by prolonging the disruption to normality that we allow the terrorists to win… Politics has never been more important, politicians must deal with these issues.’ And he’s right. But there is another reason: to suggest that a campaign has been suspended, and therefore that nothing said by politicians and political advocates during this period is to be considered political, is highly dishonest. The statement ‘you should not politicize a tragedy’ is itself a political statement, as is the suggestion that politics is too divisive to take place at this time. I wrote on this topic last year for The Salisbury Review, when political campaigns were again ostensibly suspended following the brutal murder of Jo Cox. My contention then, as it is now, was that this prolonged period of mass Purdah was affording implicitly (and often explicitly) political arguments the veneer of apolitical truth and respectability. As I wrote then: "David Cameron, firmly of the opinion that we should not politicise the tragedy, begins to say all the right things about hope not hate, joy not fear, diversity not intolerance, et cetera, ad nauseam. Never mind that, when not banging on about The Economy, Stupid, in the course of the referendum campaign, he has made those same soundbites and platitudes and niceties his rhetorical tools in service of the Remain faction. But no, not now. Times have changed. He is no longer a politician, he is a human being. He has no opinion on the referendum; how could he following such a tragic event? No, no, he is not politicising the issue at all. "Others, lacking Mr. Cameron’s experience and gift in the art of trickery, have not been quite so subtle.
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