Dear Mrs May,
Jeremy Corbyn and yourself have agreed to halt campaigning for the General Election today as a mark of respect for the victims of last night’s bombing. In solidarity, the SKWAWKBOX will do the same for today.
But this is not a political post, except inasmuch as everything is politics. Anyone who reads this blog will know what opinion it holds of your politics and behaviour. No, this is just a human post, with a few human questions that won’t wait.
Dear Mrs May, why did we have to wait almost four hours for a statement from you about the events last night at the Manchester arena. We know when a tragedy like this happens there are meetings, and briefings, and chaos. But people were worried, afraid, sad – and not a word from you. For almost four hours. Not even a tweet from Number 10. Conservative HQ was silent, happy to let fake news about your opponent sit at the top of its timeline.
Dear Mrs May, why – when we eventually did hear from you – was this all we got?
We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.
It was right – of course – to voice your thoughts for the victims and their families. But you know as well as we do that when such things happen, people are afraid.
You know as well as we do that some will be tempted to turn against neighbours, even friends, who share the presumed religion of the perpetrators of this horror. You know as well as we do that hate crimes will increase and that our Muslim brothers and sisters will be fearful of that on top of everything else.
Yet there was not one word of comfort. Not one word to call on communities to draw closer together, to call on individuals to think of their neighbours and defeat terrorists by showing kindness and thoughtfulness instead of being divided.
Not one word vindicating the Muslims of this country and urging others to look on them as what they are – our neighbours, our friends.
After last night’s tragedy, mostly-Muslim taxi drivers were giving people stranded in the city free lifts to get them away from danger and back to their loved ones. Manchester people – including Muslim Manchester people – opened their heart and homes to others who couldn’t get away.
Yet you had nothing to say about it. Not one word to unite us. Just those bare sentences.
Not even a word of tribute to the brave people of the emergency services who rushed to the scene to help.
Mrs May, you’re a vicar’s daughter – you made much of that when interviewed with your husband. You must have heard your father offer solace to the grieving and fearful. Yet that was all you gave us – and it took you almost four hours.
Dear Mrs May – are you hoping that this will be your ‘Falklands moment’? Your General Election campaign has gone anything but well so far. Are you hoping this will be your chance to rescue it by stirring up fear or jingoistic, ‘them and us’ national pride?
If you are – if that thought has even crossed your mind – please don’t insult us.
In 1982, most people recognise Mrs Thatcher saved her government by sending ships to the Falkland Islands. But Maggie hadn’t spent the last several years cutting the armed forces to the extent that even service chiefs were open in their criticism. You and your party have.
Mrs Thatcher viewed the police as her buffer against the rest of us so she looked after them. You have cut police numbers – and who knows, one of those ‘surplus’ police officers might just have been on hand last night to make a difference.
Mrs May, Mrs Thatcher wanted to cut the NHS – we know that now – but she was rightly afraid to, knowing how much we value it. You and your predecessor have presided over the near-collapse of this nation’s most treasured achievement – and it showed last night.
Mrs May, do you know that hospitals in Manchester last night were appealing for anyone with a first aid qualification to come in to help? Hospitals and cities have plans for this kind of situation – yet Manchester hospitals were reduced last night to crying out for first-aiders to bail them out. That’s how bad things have become – on your watch.
Dear Mrs May, are you hoping to use this tragedy, this horror, as a weapon to attack your political opponent? It would be very foolish – foolish and disgraceful – to do so.
Because this happened on your watch, Mrs May. You – you – and your party have been in charge for the last seven years. You have cut the police and armed forces – even when we’ve been almost constantly at a ‘severe’ threat status for the risk of terrorist attack.
You and your party have rushed to bomb other countries, killing their innocents. You have pursued measures of surveillance and informing – expecting schools to inform on pupils and parents to do your job for you. You didn’t cause last night’s horrors – but you didn’t prevent them.
Dear Mrs May – some of your supporters, within minutes of last night’s atrocity, were attempting to use it against your political opponents. Within minutes. This blog will not give them the publicity they crave by replicating their vomit here, but it’s not hard to find. Just look on the Labour leader’s timeline.
They wanted to exploit the loss and grief for political ends – to promote you and your failing campaign or to sow division and fear of the ‘other’.
Fortunately, most people of this country know better – and the responses on social media to the scum who behaved that way gives heart to us when we need it.
The Sun ‘newspaper’ fell over itself this morning, though – to exploit the deaths of children to try to smear your opponents. It has truly earned – again – its nickname of The Scum – but we expect such vileness from that publication.
But what about you, Mrs May? Will you denounce your followers? Will you publicly distance yourself from their hideousness? Will you repudiate their bile? Will you promote peace and unity? Will you behave like a stateswoman? That’s what a leader would do.
Or will you sit back and let others do your dirty work, hoping that this will save your failing campaign and happy for our society to pay the price?
We hope not, Mrs May. We truly hope not. Because this is not the 1980s, Mrs May. Le Pen tried it in France, tried to let a terrorist incident drive people toward her out of fear.
It didn’t work, Mrs May. The people of France pulled together – pulled away from fear and division. If the people of France can do it, do you think the people of this country are less wise?
So will you do the right thing, Mrs May? Will you handle this for the long-term good of this country? Or for short-term political gain? Will you be humble – or grasping?
Because that’s all we really want to know.