I want to start this article with the caveat that this is just to offer another perspective and I would never condone or encourage any form of violence.
While there has been some backlash to the multitude of attacks in Europe over the last twenty four months, the attackers have mostly failed in their attempts to divide the victim nations into us and them. The ultimate aim seems to be the creation of a massive social divide between Muslim and non- Muslims that will eventually lead to a catastrophic civil war. This simply won’t happen. I even felt ridiculous typing it. In Western Europe, particularly the UK, France and Germany, there are some challenges of multiculturalism and integration but recent electoral results have convinced me this will not become a defining factor in politics there.
In other posts I have alluded to the almost groundhog day cycle of events that occurs after each attack.
If the terrorists truly want to cause division and potential mayhem they need to focus on an area that has already a) caused a major global war and b) been the source of war and bloodshed between Christians and Muslims. The answer is the Balkans. Even the millennial generation like myself remember the horrible tragedies of Srebrenica and Žepa in the early 1990s. It is simply not that long ago that Europe was torn asunder in war between Christians and Muslims (obviously there was also war amongst Christians and different nations in this conflict, I am not trying to completely oversimplify it).
Tensions still exist and there have even been suggestions of potential land swaps to move religious communities back to the countries where they enjoy a majority. Furthermore there has been plenty of funding of mosques in the region from wealthy benefactors in the Gulf. These have often promoted the more extreme Wahhabist strand of Islam. One major example is the Saudi-funded King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo. In November 2016 the Soufan Group estimated that 875 citizens of the Balkans had fought for ISIS in Syria or Iraq. This number is larger than their estimate for the UK or Germany and just over half the number who had travelled from France.
A large bombing here on a Church or other public monument that resulted in a major loss of life would seriously test the recently meshed fabric of society. A major outbreak of civil unrest or violence either in the EU (Croatia) or right on it’s doorstep (Bosnia, Serbia, Albania etc) could potentially have far reaching consequences. Russia has always viewed the Balkans as in their sphere of influence and, having suffered at the hands of Islamic terrorists in recent years, would feel obliged to intervene.
The United States helped end the genocide of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s but I do not see a Trump led US intervening in a similar fashion, particularly with the alleged close ties between the Kremlin and the White House. A conflict where there was on threat of American intervention could quickly escalate.
It is now almost exactly 103 years to the date when Gavrilo Princip shot the the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. In the immediate aftermath few expected twenty million to die. While Europe has moved on from these dark times, it would be unwise to ever underestimate the potential for war to begin in the one time ‘powder keg of Europe’. As morbid as it sounds it may ultimately be safer for Europe if ISIS continue to aim West and not take a look at European history...
A lot has happened in last few couple of weeks that could have an impact on how (if?) Brexit takes place. To be honest nobody really knows yet what will ensue, so the below are just some suggestions on how certain events have shifted the underlying dynamics.
The Tories Failing to Regain a Majority
The 2017 British General election will go down as a disaster for the Conservative Party. It is incredibly rare for an incumbent government to voluntarily call an election when they have a majority without the shadow of some scandal in the background (for example in Malta this year the ruling party, Laborista, called an election but this was due to alleged corruption scandals). Theresa May’s line that she needed a mandate from the people now seems arrogant and utterly misguided. While I never believed an enhanced majority would provide her team with more leverage in the negotiations, losing the majority has certainly made her position more challenging.
May is now political cannon fodder. The British were never negotiating from a position of power and I can see the knives being sharpened for her in both the Remain and Leave (Soft and Hard Brexit) factions of the Conservative Party. My view is that she will remain as the token head until some leaked agreement or article is deemed ‘disastrous’ enough for a heave. The reason that this didn’t happen in the initial aftermath is no one really wanted to take over a party that quickly after a horrific defeat and facing into the their most serious international negotiations in forty years.
If this does happen and a Davis or Johnson becomes leader the key factor will be whether this is a smooth transition internally or a General Election is called or forced. If this occurs I think the EU negotiators may lose patience and begin to force through a number of measures. These will not be generous to a seemingly fractured and rudderless United Kingdom.
The DUP Becoming Westminster Kingmakers
I am no fan of the DUP but what an incredible election they had. In March their leader looked to be on her last legs (take note Theresa) and Sinn Fein and the Nationalist’s rise seemed inexorable. Fast forward four months and the DUP now hold a majority of the Northern Irish seats in Westminster, have obliterated their only Unionist rivals (the UUP) and are now in a position of massive leverage by entering an informal agreement to prop up the Tories.
Their position in Brexit is almost laughable. They fought for Brexit (including some dodgy funding dealings) to promote their British solidarity. However they are now seen as proponents for a soft Brexit with as minimal a border as possible. The pragmatist in me does see the logic in this. A smooth, hassle-free Brexit will certainly quieten the voices calling for a Border poll. In terms of real impact though, I don’t think they have as much leverage as the media have suggested. While they will certainly bang their drums publicly, it would be almost political suicide to pull the Government, with the threat of a Jeremy Corbyn (read IRA sympathiser) led replacement looming.
Macron Gaining a huge majority in the French Assembly Elections
Now this is a politician who did need a mandate. While his presidential success was a major talking point in the global media and political circles , it was deemed by many as more a vote against Marine le Pen than it was as a vote for the former banker and junior minister in the Socialist Government. In a similar fashion to the American political system, the assembly have a lot of power to pass through (and veto) legislation. Macron’s party, En Marche, did not even have a presence in the last assembly. To go from 0 to 350 out of 577 seats is an absolutely phenomenal result. Naysayers will point to the dismal turnout of 42%. However low turnout is a bit like an own goal in football, when it goes in your favour people simply remember that you scored.
Macron is now in a position of power and ,until his cuts to public expenditure bring a million protestors to the Parisian streets in 2019, has the backing of the majority of the French people. He will now seek to impose his will on the Brexit negotiations. He believes in a harsh deal for the British, that will effectively scare other countries away from considering an EU exit. Below are some of the quotes he made, prior to his presidential success in March;
“I am a hard Brexiter” and (European negotiations with Britain prior to the Brexit referendum) “created a precedent, which is that a single state can twist the European debate to its own interests. Cameron was toying with Europe and we agreed to go along with it, which was a big mistake.”
With Angela Merkel facing a German election in late August, I expect Macron to become a key figure over the next few months. As a former Banker he may well believe that London’s difficulty is an opportunity for Paris. Relocating a few major banks to Paris would further add to his impressive Presidential start and what better way to go about this than through tough talks with little quarter given to their historic rivals.
While I would like to be proven wrong, I can’t see the British decision to leave the European Union now being reversed. In hindsight the decision to call an election by the Conservative Government seems foolish at best. They will now be negotiating from a position of enhanced weakness, facing an emboldened French maverick and a distracted Angela Merkel. Their best policy would be to stop making brash, jingoistic public claims about not being bullied and to keep their heads down and try to make substantial progress. The calls for Theresa May’s head will rise in volume from her former friends in the British press when she agrees to pay a substantial ‘divorce settlement’. If she can end her tenure with a lot more clarity on what Brexit means , accompanied by some substantial progress than she will have taken at least the first step to political redemption.
Leo Varadkar and Emmanueal Macron's recent ascents to power are two of the most interesting political stories of 2017 for many global media outlets. They have shattered the record books for becoming the youngest leaders of Ireland and France respectively. Their personal relationships have captured the imagination of the wider public. Varadkar is Ireland's first openly gay leader while Macron married his secondary level drama teacher, 24 years his senior. Their enthusiatic and frank style of speech has lead to much praise and publicity. They are both viewed as 'fresh' and 'dynamic' in their homelands.
Now that I have gotten the seemingly obligatory fawning out of the way I want to dig a little deeper and highlight that while both of these politicians may espouse a new departure in politcs they are a lot more traditional than the public has so far realised.
The domestic conditions for their success do vary slightly, given my patriotic bias, we'll start with Varadkar. The leading party in Ireland, Fine Gael, has been in power since 2011. Enda Kenny has been their party leader since 2007 and is currently Ireland's longest serving member of Parliament. A very poor performance in the 2016 election led to him being returned as Taoiseach only as the head of a minority government. A number of controversies involving the national police force made his position untenable and there were very few shocked when he announced his intention to step down in mid May. Within 48 hours Leo Varadkar launched his campaign with a very smooth website and the immediate backing of two thirds of the party's members of parliament. His only opponent Simon Coveney stood little chance enduring what can only be descibed as the political equivalent of a blitzkrieg. Since his public announcement that he was gay in January 2015 in the lead up to the Marriage Equality referendum, every statement and public appearance has been carefully managed.
The sophistication of his campaign is definitely something he has in common with Macron, whose catchy (if completely meaningless) slogan En Marche! (Onwards!) seemingly captured the imagination of the French public. Or at least that is the narrative his campaign team pushed. In reality Macron emerged from one of the weakest pools of candidates ever put forward for a French Presidential election. The two traditional parties both offered flawed candidates. The Socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, never really stood a chance after the disastrous tenure of his predecessor Francois Hollande. Francois Fillon of the Republican party was an early favourite before his campaign was derailed by allegations of corruption. Meanwhile the FN party of Marine Le Pen is reviled by a majority of the French Public. At times in the second round run-off the sum of Emmanuel Macron's argument for election amounted fact that he was 'not Le Pen'. Immigration often took centre stage in the campaign and Macron used this to take public attention away from his very pro-business policies and intention to reduce the government footprint on French society. To me these policies are basicaly those of the Republican party under Nicolas Sarkozy, wrapped in a shiny new box.
They include cutting public service headcount by 120,000 and reducing the headline corproate tax rate from 33% to 25%. This would take it lower than Germany, whose total rate varies from 30-33%. Furthermore, his intention to overhaul social welfare and provide employment insurance for all can be deemed a more conservative policy as it includes provisions like necessity to prove a genuine attempt to find a job and mandatory loss of benefits if two suitable positions are rejected.
Leo Varadkar has tried to limit his planned policies thus far as he was more intent on convincing the Fine Gael members to follow their elected parliamentarians. His manifesto for party leadership was titled 'Taking Ireland Forward' (another catchy but utterly meaningless slogan). His carefully managed facade has fallen on occasion and there were potentially ominous hints of what is to come when he said he wants to lead a party for 'people who get up early in the morning'. His manifesto has a distinct Thatcherite feel to it. In the past the Irish people have rejected governments who move too far to the right (including the decimation of the Progressive Democrats). A Fine Gael party who try and drive these policies through under the illusion of a 'new type pf politics' will suffer a similar fate.
I have undoubtedly taken a cynical view of both men and may in time be proven wrong (particularly as both men finally have time to act and not only use catchy soundbites). However until then it seems fitting to borrow a Gallic phrase to describe my views on the direction both men will take their countries ; 'plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose' . The rough translation for this is the more it changes, the more it stays the same...
How Qatar is a (not quite blameless) victim of the greater Middle East battle for supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran
past After mixed success in my UK General Election predictions (here) I want to get back to a topic that has piqued my interest in the last week or so. The cutting of diplomatic relations between a number of Arab states and Qatar. The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been simmering for a few years now though this is certainly the most dramatic escalation yet witnessed.
The battle for regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been well documented in numerous sources and articles over the years . The causes are well known and while religion is undoubtedly a factor I don't want to focus on it in this article. Since the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979, Iran has viewed itself as the champion of the Shia version of Islam. Saudi Arabia, as the gatekeeper of the two holiest cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina, bases a large part of it's legitimacy and prestige on being the protector of the religion.
As this battle has intensified over the 15 years it has become more and more difficult for Arab nations to remain unaligned. In fact it can nearly be seen as regional specific version of the Cold War, with a number of unfortunate states and regions becoming the proxy battlegrounds that were so tragically common before the fall of the USSR. The United States has been a long term ally of Saudi Arabia and an oft unapologetic enemy of the Islamic State of Iran. The same can be said of Israel, although their relationship with Saudi Arabia is less widely broadcast. Their foreign policy aims are both quite similar. A weak Iran and the the suppression of any other powerful Islamist movements (like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon or the less militant Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt) that could be a threat to Israel's security or challenge the legitimacy of Saudi Arabia.
So how does Qatar fit into all this? Saudi Arabia sees Qatar as one of it's client states. It believes Qatar, like the UAE and Bahrain, should immediately come to heel whenever Saudi whistles. As the situation in Syria, Iraq and Yemen has become more complex, Saudi simply expects Qatar to stand behind Saudi. They do not want a partnership of equals and certainly no diplomatic discourse with Iran (more on this later).
Since the bloodless coup in 1995, when Sheikh Hamas wrested power from his father, Qatar has harbored grand ambitions. With one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world and only 300,000 Qatari citizens their coffers are almost infinite. They have used this money to try and attain global influence. Al Jazeera, often alleged to be the media mouthpiece of the government, has become one of the largest global news agencies. This ability to frame the Qatari narrative of Middle Eastern events scares Saudi Arabia and they see this as a threat to their internal security.
Another element of tension is Qatar's funding (often covert) of Islamist rebels in Syria. Furthermore their official backing of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt after the Arab Spring was extremely dangerous to Saudi Arabia. One of the major differences between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is that Saudi Arabia has a population of almost 30 million people. The majority of these are Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia has poor unemployed, Saudi Arabian men. Qatar doesn't have poor, unemployed Qatari men. This point can not be emphasised enough. Saudi Arabia's young population has the potential to become disillusioned with the gross extravagance of the Saudi royal family. It isn't beyond the realms of possibility than a protest movement with an Islamist element become mainstream in Saudi Arabia. Internal turmoil in Saudi Arabia would be a gift to the Iranians.
The conditions marked mentioned above have been around for a while. The catalyst for this spat to take place now is almost undoubtedly Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump was a vocal critic of the American- Iranian Peace Accord and threatened to tear it up upon entering the White House. When Trump announced his first foreign visit would be to Saudi Arabia and Israel, it was a clear indication where his loyalties lie. The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia has undoubtedly emboldened the Saudis to challenge Qatar to get in line.
They have done this in a headline-grabbing yet clumsy fashion. There is no chance of war as there are currently 10,000 US troops in Qatar. I believe it is now a battle of will between the two nations which may have the unintended consequence of pushing the Qatar closer to Iran. I can guarantee it won't be the last time a rash foreign policy move is secretly toasted in Tehran...
I honestly have never felt as emotionally invested in a UK General Election as I am for tomorrow. I'm an unabashed Corbynista but the predictions I make for tomorrow do not reflect this. My predictions are all in numerical terms so by Friday evening I'll have nowhere to hide if I have misread the British political landscape...
1. Conservatives to get 43% of the vote, Labour to get 35%
I would love to get this wrong but this is what I predict. I don't know exactly how this translates into seats but would be an increased majority. It's based on a combination of previous election results and speaking to my British friends and colleagues. Corbyn has ran a good campaign and may privately even see a 8% defeat as a decent result.
In 2015 the Tories got 36.8% and Labour 30.5%. While I believe Labour will pull some voters back who defected in 2015, one crucial factor in this election is the 12.5% of the electorate who voted UKIP then. I see at least 2/3 of these voters going over to the Tories and this will compensate for any further floating voters who move Left.
2. SNP to gain less than 50 seats
They gained 56 out of 59 in 2015 but their message seems a little mixed to me now. The engrossing battle between Corbyn and May will have captivated many in Scotland and I think some votes will move back to the two main parties.
3. DUP to gain 5000 votes more than Sinn Fein
It was 8,000 in the 2015 General Election but only 1,200 in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election in March. I see it as an inevitability that Sinn Fein will eventually overtake the DUP due to the changing demographics of Northern Ireland. However Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy and a smarting DUP should mean the gap widens slightly this time around.
4. UUP to have 0 seats at Westminster for the first time
They only have 2 now. They have been on the decline for a long time and I don't think they'll hold either seat as the middle ground gets squeezed in Northern Ireland.
After my first attempt at an article I wanted to write about something a little lighter. This topic has gained a lot of traction in recent times and is something witness on a regular basis. I have seen a lot of articles across the media suggest 'XYZ election' could have been won if the youth (normally the 18-35 age profile is referenced) vote had turned up in equal numbers to their elders. LSE-sponsored Opinum polls suggest that in the Brexit vote only 64% of 18-24 year olds voted versus 90% of those 65+. As the title suggests, this article will initially look at what I believe drives Millenials psyche and then actually translate that into solid, concrete votes. Basically a two prong approach of how to get those likes etc and then how to translate them into votes
I am not going to discuss policies here. It goes without saying that the Youth are typically more attracted to the left leaning peers, both in terms of economic and social policies. Whilst this is not quite a universal truth it holds up quite well across the globe (open for contradiction here if any regions demonstrate the opposite).
Appealing to the Youth
First thing first, get a candidate that is affable and can handle impromptu interactions with the public. Social Media has completely changed how politicians are perceived. An example of a politician who handles this well is Justin Trudeau, possibly the poster boy of the progressive Left. The cynical side of me sees his casual moments that 'happen' to be caught on camera as very calculated and cunning. He is the face of a very well oiled public relations team. Just remember the candid picture of him photobombing a wedding while jogging was taken by his official photographer.
The flip side to this is that every moment of unscripted interaction with public is a potential major setback While powerful oratory skills are still a great asset to have, a powerful 20 minute speech that is applauded by the broadsheets can be undone by a 5 second answer caught on a camera phone that gets turned into a parody video and share 500 thousand times. It really is that simple.Theresa May is an example of a leader who looks so uncomfortable interacting with the public, she never looks comfortable and you can tell she is being reined in from now to the finish line. Hillary Clinton was more effective at this but still looked a little shaky at times.
Social media is crucial but so far I don't think it has been utilised as effectively as possible by candidates. The crux of it is that it's easy to get followers of a well managed Facebook page or Twitter feed but I don't always see how that translates into high turnout and votes. This is where a party needs to think about what drives the Millenial mindset and moves me perfectly to the second part of article
How to get the Millenial Vote Out
Utilize the 'FOMO' concept. Millenials are constantly looking at what their peers are doing and what needs to be done. If you choose the correct candidate described above you can rely on an organic social media game through viral sharing of positive videos etc Channel these funds into events on election day where the potential electorate can attend and 'check in'. This will be the next level fo Millennial support here after simply liking or following a candidate. Crucially however the party will then provide transport to the polling stations (or as close as possible given the varying local voting laws). A number of events can be held over the course of the day and these will generate publicity and increase momentum. Turn voting into an experiential concept. The more aspects of the process that can be 'shared' and done together will increase the desire to participate.
The more radical suggestion would encounter a lot of obstacles and in all likelihood is more Minority Report than mainstream politics. However it would undoubtedly be a game changer with the younger vote. If voting could ever be doen digitally or online I believe the youth turnout jump instantly. This would meet resistance from incumbent, conservative parties, traditionalist and , given all the allegations of Russian interference in Western elections, most national security agencies. However for parties who know they clearly much more successful with younger voters it should at least be on the radar.
Ultimately making the youth turn up and vote is not an easy endeavour. They are disillusioned with many mainstream parties and cynicism typically ruins supreme. I don't believe they'll vote as much on policy as they will on gaining peer acceptance and approval. Unless they think it's something that their friends are doing they wont bother. Its no longer so much a case of 'win the hearts and minds' as it is of borrow their desire to be accepted, validated and not miss out.
How politicians can make hay while the violence reigns
This is a very sensitive issue and while this post will look at it from a purely political (if Machiavellian) style I want to first mention that the writer is unequivocally against all violence and my thoughts are with all the families and friends of those impacted.
Over the last 18 months or so we have been inundated with images and reports of atrocities carried out across Europe, usually by individuals or groups affiliated by members of the so-called Islamic State. While these have all been disgusting acts of violence, I want to take a look at what impact they have had on elections. Will they be a key campaign topic moving forward or has the average European voter simply reached the shoulder shrug stage where a message on social media will suffice.
The comments from politicians in the aftermath of any attack have become disturbingly similar ; "now is the time for people to come together", "the people of ....... will show the world they will not bow to terrorism" or the standard "I would like to thank the emergency services for their outstanding bravery in the face of such horror" , however you do not become a leader or a senior member of any party with at least some political acumen and I am certain they immediately analyse the political fallout these attacks will have.
The two dynamics I would like to assess are incumbent versus opposition and the party's views on immigration. Whilst there are clearly other dynamics at play these are two of the factors I believe play a major role in how politicians perceive these attacks and whether they will privately view them as something they can use or will put them in defensive mode. I am going to focus on the French election that took place recently and the current UK election campaign. There are numerous other elections taking place across Europe but these may require a re-visit of this topic.
Three major incidents have taken place in France in the last 2 years; The Charlie Hebdo attack (January 2015), the Bataclan (November 2015) and the massacre in Nice (July 2016). All three would have not have helped the incumbent Socialist party. During this period President Hollande'sa approval ratings did plummet. However they were already suffering I don't believe these attacks directly lead to Hollande suffering the lowest approval ratings of any French President at 4% in October 2016 (in the summer of 2016 he published a memoir where he attacked everyone from the French national football team to the poor).
So for the incumbent government in this situation the obvious accusation is that the security forces failed or he is 'weak on security'. I think the sheer audaciousness and shock of these 3 very different attacks insulated the president from too much damage here. In fact, he actually benefited from being one of the first to master the necessary soundbites listed above as well as adding a line about taking a firm stand against terrorism.
In France the more obvious argument is the rise of the FN under Marine le Pen with her aggressive views on minimizing immigration and leaving the EU. The obvious narrative is that each successive attack increased her chances of winning and enhanced her campaign and profile. I am not so sure this is necessarily the case in terms of votes. In May 2014 the FN garnered 24.9% of the votes to win the French European Parliament elections. In March 2017 Le Pen won 21.3% of the vote in the first round run-off. So in spite of three of the most serious terrorist attacks in French history they actually lost vote share when the 'real' vote took place. In my opinion her views were still too distasteful to the majority of electorate and realistically she would have needed a lot more 'attacks' to justify her position on Islam and immigration, as well as the economic collapse of a European economy to gain any further support for her views that France should leave the EU. For FN it is difficult to see how their current approach would benefit enough from any number of attacks to move the Richter scale and hit the 30% or even 40% marks.
In my view the French have simply seen too many attacks now to be convinced to make their decision solely based on this and economics, not security will be the crucial factor over the next campaign. Macron was quick to identify this and was astute enough to avoid making it a key tenet of his campaign, instead choosing to focus on a rather woolly 'new politics' platform.
The current UK General election campaign has been blighted by two terrorist attacks which were preceded by another attack earlier in the year. They have undeniably had an impact on the campaign but have not been the key focus of it despite the campaign to label Jeremy Corbyn a terrorist sympathizer due to his alleged historical support of the IRA. The British right-wing media have continually hounded him with this label as well criticized his economic policies. In polling prior to the calling of the election by Theresa May these factor combined to give the Tories a twenty point lead.
The Labour strategy team correctly identified that they would have more success changing the public perception of their economic views than of Corbyn's past and started strongly with their Manifesto launch (May 17th - though leaked a day earlier) which received a favorable reception from the public here. The lesson here is if you are trying to regain the working class vote focus on what you can give them financially and leave nationalist policies aside, especially if you know you are perceived as 'weak' or soft'. The five days following the manifesto launch gave Labour a solid platform to voice their message and gain support in polling.
The Manchester bombing on May 22nd could have ended this momentum for Labour but there were able to deflect the weak on terror accusations and even landed some hits by pointing to the police cuts enforced by the Tory government. Corbyn's speech which claimed that terrorism was a cause of British foreign policy could have been disastrous but fortunately for him there was a precedence of Conservative politicians voicing similar views previously. So in the aftermath of this attack Labour continued to narrow the initial 20 point polling lead of the Tories and the election campaign still focused on manifestos and the differing approaches both parties would take in government.
The London Bridge attack may now have swung the pendulum back to security and foreign policy. It , at the very least, has again (rightfully so) taken up the news headlines with less than a week to go to the election. The incumbent government have the stronger line on immigration (despite never achieving any of their immigration pledge caps) and will benefit more from this potential shift. Labour have again tried to attack the Tories on their cuts in police numbers but this approach is more blatantly seen as political opportunism and will be tricky to effectively convey in the limited timeframe available to them.
My view on the attacks in the UK is that they have indirectly benefited the incumbent Tory government simply through taking the attention of the public. Neither party have been canny enough to figure out how to turn these events into an increase in their votes. The Tories realize that after their disastrous start, no campaign news is good news and will now try and quietly make it to the election on June 8th, hoping their once impregnable lead will still hold strong. Labour are faced with a tricky dilemma ; do they try and get the narrative back to the manifesto pledges which had served them well despite the public attention on terrorism for at least another 48 hours or double up on their message that the Tories, due to cuts they have made to the Police following their austerity policies, can't be trusted on security. This is a major gamble to take when the right wing press can counter this with a picture of the Labour leader with the original bearded, terrorist nemesis of the British state. An interesting week ahead....