First things first.
What happened in Manchester on Monday night was an outrage. The sudden and violent ending of many lives, with many more wounded, some with life changing injures is something that mere words alone cannot adequately express.
However, this notion – that some tragedy’s are so bewildering enormous in their tragedy that they defy human comprehension – is seemingly beyond most politician’s. Teresa May yesterday could’ve made a speech outside Downing Street briefly expressing her shock and revulsion at the attack and sympathy for those affected, before expounding at length the increased security measures the government was putting in place. But in a telling indictment of the times we now live in, her not doing so, but instead repeatedly expressing sympathy for the victims, revulsion at the perpetrators actions and a determination not to cowed, she would somehow be seen as the embodiment of virtuous human emotion. Does she think that we’ve become so emotionally incapable, so bereft of the ability to articulate how we feel, that we are in some need?
Following the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament in March, MP’s were quick to denounce this latest outrage, but were all essentially saying the same thing yet in many different ways. The gist was that the attack was both callous and cowardly, that the people of London stood united and that an attack on Parliament wouldn’t prevent Parliament carrying on as usual. Fine and noble sentiments; if the Speaker of the House had said them to a packed but silent Common’s chamber, and then carried on with the routine business if Parliament. But no. MP after MP made speeches – that to my mind at least – undermined with every word they uttered everything they were saying. For the avoidance of doubt, any terrorist attack, especially one involving the deliberate targeting of children is reprehensible.
Being cynical I have for a long time harboured a suspicion that there is a ready-made emotional response generator that politicians can activate in situations such as these. Rather like this, but reducing heart wrenching suffering into tired cliché. An instant sound bite generator. One that is loaded with stock sincerity and each time it offers up different phrase that can be woven together into a heartfelt statement? I mean, really, who cares what Teresa May, Jeremy Corbyn or Tim Fallon have to say about it? Will they or any other politician offer up anything other than phrases we’ve heard before? Is it that they think that by saying these things they’ll sound like Morgan Freeman, all grim determination and steadfast resoluteness? Will they offer a stunning insight that offers some meaning into the seemingly inexplicable? A pithy but sincere formulation of words that encapsulates a nation’s grief and shock perhaps?
Or will they do what politician’s always do, which is to be seen to be saying the right thing, which – I think –