Yesterday Theresa May made a cold, calculated decision to violate the agreement to suspend political campaigning in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack at London Bridge. Standing on the steps of Downing Street behind the official prime ministerial coat of arms, she could have simply stuck to condemning an atrocity, calling for resilience and solidarity. That indeed was the theme of the first half of her speech. In the second half of her speech, she advanced political proposals, blew a dogwhistle about “far too much tolerance” of extremism, and declared: “Enough is enough.”
This morning, the Tories put up the hapless Karen Bradley, who ambled through a series of blundering interviews. Piers Morgan repeatedly challenged the culture secretary on Good Morning Britain to confirm armed police officer numbers had declined: she refused to answer. So given her refusal to tell the truth, let’s be clear: the Home Office figures for authorised firearms officers have declined from 6,976 in March 2010 to 5,639 in March last year.
This morning, the Metropolitan police’s commissioner Cressida Dick was challenged over police numbers. She’s in a tricky position: she can’t be seen to intervening in a general election campaign. But she was clear nonetheless. The police needed more resources, she declared.
There are further questions requiring answers. There have been reports one of the terrorist murderers had already been twice reported to the authorities for trying to recruit children into Islamic State. His own friend had reported him after he had become radicalised, and he had apparently appeared on video alongside extremist preachers. May’s operation is now criticising MI5 in the press, demanding they “keep up” with the evolving terrorist threat. But remind me, who has been responsible for MI5 since 2010? Because of her role as home secretary, this morning Steve Hilton – David Cameron’s former director of strategy – has demanded May’s resignation.