The recent terrorist attack at London Bridge left two dead and several injured. What was the politicians’ response? They indulged in a bout of the political game rather than speaking of the grief of the moment. As far as I understand the chronology, Johnson began this by issuing condolences and then blaming (wrongly) the Labour government’s legislation for the release of the killer from prison. Corbyn then joined in by blaming austerity and Tory cuts to the prison service and police. Of the two Corbyn made more sense. But that is cold comfort to the bereaved who, rightly, expect something more heartfelt. Indeed, the father of the man who died has insisted that politicians should stop using his son’s death to justify their stance. Further, he argued that his son would be appalled to find his death being used to justify penal policies that speak of revenge.
The London Bridge attack is a time in which we should expect prime ministerial candidates to be prime ministerial. This is a solemn time that should be outwith the daily dose of election politics. And Johnson should take the blame for this not happening.
Boris Johnson is also at fault over his attitude towards interviews. He has refused the invitation to be interviewed by Andrew Neal. Neal’s interviews are aggressive, robust and searching. All the other leaders have undergone this purgatory; Jeremy Corbyn had a peculiarly difficult time over antisemitism. It is customary for all prime ministers seeking re-election to be interviewed by Mr Neal. It looks as though Johnson is running scared as he refuses this form of accountability. He knows that he has been caught out in being utterly untrustworthy. It is time Johnson stops being the coward and faces up to his fate.
Finally, I want to know where the other parties in my seat have gone to. I’ve had leaflets from Labour (2), one from the Conservatives (at least I think it was the Conservatives, it was so badly written as to be unintelligible) and none from anyone else. I know that Labour members have been out canvassing but I’ve seen no-one else. The Greens and Lib Dems appear to be backing Labour. This reduces my choices to two candidates. I guess that might be three with the Brexit Party. I shall be holding my nose as I vote Labour. This vote is to keep out the Tories in a marginal seat. Fortunately, my local Labour candidate is a good MP.
The Lib Dems are having a torrid time. Jo Swinson is not proving the draw they thought. It may be that there is prejudice against a younger woman. The Lib Dems have lumbered themselves with a policy that does not look liberal or democratic as well as being silly. If the Lib Dems form a majority government (absolutely impossible) then they will revoke Article 50 and return us to the EU. Even fervent Remainers believe that a referendum can only be cancelled by another referendum. The Lib Dems used to be in favour of the Peoples’ Vote; their policy has questioned whether this is still so. The Brexit policy is so unpopular that the Lib Dems have returned to the Peoples’ Vote.
But the basic problem the Lib Dems face is that of the first past the post system. With poll ratings of 15% that means getting only a similar number of seats; in a proportional system they would be getting a magical 100 and being the holder of a balance of power. On top of that comes a traditional squeeze. People wishing to block Boris and liking the Lib Dems opt for Labour to block Johnson. Others like the Lib Dems but wishing to stop Corbyn will vote Conservative. The upshot is that the Lib Dems, nice as they are, lose out.