Socialist Worker

After Manchester attack—don't let right exploit horror

Issue No. 2555

A horrific bombing killed 22 people, including five children, as they left an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night.

A further 59 people were injured in what Greater Manchester Police said it is treating as a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber.

Isis described the person who carried out the attack as a “soldier of the caliphate”.

Racists have already begun to whip up ­division.

It’s predictable that some people will seek to scapegoat Muslims and point the finger at migrants—such moves must be rejected and confronted.

As Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism said, “It is vital  that we stand together at this time in unity and solidarity against all forms of hatred, division and violence.”

But it won’t just be far right groups and Ukip that seek to exploit what’s happened.

Tory home secretary Amber Rudd said the bombing’s “intention was to sow fear, its intention is to divide, but it will not succeed”.

But right wing politicians and newspapers are hoping to use it—precisely to sow fear and division.

More armed police officers are already patrolling London, and other major cities across Britain.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick warned this will “continue for as long as it is needed” with a “mixture of armed and unarmed officers.”

Her record on responding to terror attacks should make us wary.

After the 7/7 suicide bombings in London, Dick headed the police operation that gunned down Brazilian electrician Jean Charles De Menezes.

Targeting

The operation was part of a bigger police lockdown ­targeting Muslims—and led to increased levels of Islamophobia.

Calls from the right for more police, more guns and more repressive powers directed at minorities have always followed terror attacks.

After the attack Theresa May said, “We can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future—to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence.”

We should be in no doubt what May meant by fighting “the ideology”—ramping up repression against Muslims.

Calls for cops to get more repressive powers after Westminster attack
Calls for cops to get more repressive powers after Westminster attack
  Read More

The Tory manifesto claimed, “Extremism, especially Islamist extremism … undermines the cohesion of our society and can fuel violence”. It warned that a Tory government would look into “new criminal offences” it could make up to “defeat the extremists”.

May suspended the Tories’ flagging general election campaign, but this hasn’t stopped the Tories from outrageously trying to exploit the horrific deaths to bolster it.

Rudd said it was a “barbaric act”—then proceeded to use it for political gain. “The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before,” she said, alluding to the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) bombing in 1996.

May joined in during her speech, noting that “it is not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way”.

Their comments come after the Tories and right wing press smeared Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to “condemn” the IRA last week.

May says “our way of life will prevail”, but when the right talk of “our way of life” it is a cover for a false unity behind “British values”.

In reality, it is a racist and nationalist stick used to beat Muslims and the left with.

We need to build genuine unity from below—against the right and their attempts to divide us through racism and repression.

And we need to keep fighting to kick out the Tories.


Every day without debate only helps May

The first reaction from people to the horror in Manchester was shock and sympathy for the victims and their families.

Many will join vigils and other gatherings expressing their solidarity with those affected.

Stand Up To Racism stated its solidarity, and also its opposition to any racist division in the wake of the attack.

Political parties, trade unions and others suspended campaigning on Tuesday.

But it would be a mistake to allow this appalling act to take the attention away from politics and the election.

In particular Theresa May must not be allowed to escape from the crisis her campaign fell into over social care on Monday.

Every day without sharp political debate benefits only the Tories. Every day without criticism and political clashes gets the Tories one day closer to 8 June unscathed.

The Tories might denounce a swift return to political campaigining. There was no criticism for the queen continuing with a big garden party on Tuesday.

We need to savage the Tories, not show them respect.

It is not difficult to guess what discussions took place in the Tories’ inner circle.

The advice from the likes of spin doctor Lynton Crosby would have been to talk about “national unity” to blunt class division.

It would have been to refuse to talk about matters like social care, to condemn terrorism at every opportunity—and to seek to link Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with alleged softness on terrorists in the past.

The very unsubtle subtext will be that Corbyn can’t be trusted to oppose and stop such horrors as the Manchester bombing.

The Sun newspaper has already done this. The Tories will follow.

We should not allow such disgusting manoeuvres to succeed.

The message needs to go out loud and strong—Labour can win the election and it mustn’t stop fighting.

May’s dementia tax revealed the brutal heart of Tory policy, but one partial U-turn hasn’t made the Tories or their policies any nicer.

Holding 

We need to campaign to push them under.

Labour must keep encouraging mass mobilisations. The monster rallies that Corbyn is holding must be continued and built bigger.

They are giving energy and confidence to thousands of people every day. They are starting to create an army of activists who can take the arguments against the Tories into workplaces and colleges, at the bus stop, the supermarket queue and the school gate.

This is Labour’s hope.

We reject the argument that there is something wrong with being angry and confrontational after the bombing.

What’s wrong is being cowed into letting the Tories off the hook.

Be angry over the callous disregard for older people who will lose the winter fuel allowance. And for the snatching away of free school meals, cuts in education and the wrecking of the NHS.

Politics matters in another sense. The appalling bombing in Manchester is one event in a series of horrors sparked by wars and interventions in the Middle East.

It is linked to the millions who have died or been made refugees by more than 15 years of the “war on terror”. They include many young people like those who lost their lives in Manchester.

As long as these imperialist wars continue there will be a response.

Corbyn oppossed the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The Tories and the Labour right backed them.

The Tories, who criticise Corbyn for being reluctant to immolate the world through the use of nuclear weapons, will bring more wars and more bombings.

Their alliance with US president Donald Trump reveals the hypocrisy of their calls for peace.

Only fundamental political change can do away with a world of exploitation, racism, war and environmental catastrophe.

Let’s use the days left before the election to ram home the message that we don’t have to live in a world ruled by the dictates of profit and power.

We don’t have to keep quiet. Keep campaigning, keep resisting, keep shouting against the Tories.


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