THE LABOUR Party yesterday was unable to say when campaigning in the general election – which was suspended by PM May in the wake of Monday night’s terror attack – will be resumed, since it will have to be by agreement with May.
A party spokesman said campaigning was suspended ‘until further notice’. The BBC has meanwhile cancelled election broadcasts by political parties. A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘Following tragic events in Manchester, The Andrew Neil Interviews will not go ahead as planned whilst election campaigning is suspended.’
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Tuesday pulled out of addressing the Public and Commercial Services Union. He said in a statement: ‘Following the horrendous terrorist attack in Manchester last night, the Labour Party has suspended all of our campaign activities until further notice, so you will understand why I can’t be with you today. We are all horrified by what has happened – and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have died or who have been injured.’
Yesterday, the only party that was campaigning in the streets was the WRP which is standing five candidates in the election. The Tory newspaper, the Telegraph, questioned whether the election date itself would have to be changed, stating: ‘The suicide bombing and the following decision to increase the terror threat level from severe to critical, which means an attack is “expected imminently”, raises questions about when the campaign will start again and whether the June 8 polling day could be moved.’
While national campaigning has been suspended until further notice, some Labour candidates say that they had been told that campaigning must be limited to putting leaflets through letter boxes.
Jess Phillips who is seeking re-election as Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: ‘If you stop everything, they win. It’s right to show respect for those who died for a period, but in Britain we never have had a culture where we allow this to stop us. In London after 7/7, people got back on those trains the next day and carried on working.’
Some Labour candidates, including MPs Mike Gapes and Ben Bradshaw, were threatening to hit the doorsteps again yesterday. Gapes, the sitting MP for Ilford, tweeted on Tuesday night: ‘We must not allow murderous terrorists to undermine our democratic society. I will be resuming political campaigning tomorrow morning.’
However, the party leaders want to begin campaigning at the same time. There is no fixed time for when candidates hit the streets again, meaning that the general election can only go ahead if PM May agrees to it.
Jonty Leff the WRP candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch said, ‘We have been campaigning in the streets all day. The best way to remember the fallen is to get the Tories out. After all, it was Cameron who organised the bombing of Libya and is the architect, along with Sarkozy, of the current chaos in Libya that is breeding terrrorists and
terrorism. We won’t pause till we have got the Tories out and are on the way to a workers government and socialism.’