Manchester's shadow hangs over the election campaign

The resumption of the General Election campaign was bound to be an uncomfortable moment. After the dreadful events in Manchester, who really has the appetite to listen to politicians score narrow points against each other?

But, angry debate is part of the democracy that seems to so offend terrorists, and resuming the campaign is a key part of the resistance to the chaos they seek.

Despite that, it's been a depressing first day back on the campaign trail, with neither main party leader covering themselves in glory.

One of Jeremy Corbyn's biggest problems is a lack of political nous. Anyone else would have realised it's far too soon to try to make finely nuanced points about the potential impact of British foreign policy on extremists seeking an excuse for their actions.

Mr Corbyn was unequivocal in condemning the bomber behind the Manchester attack, and saying that he alone bears responsibility for his actions.

That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children... the blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.
— Jeremy Corbyn, 26 May 2017

But by simply raising this long-standing debate he wades into hugely controversial territory, at the worst possible time. To many, it sounds like appeasement, an attempt to excuse inexcusable actions.

But in her response, the Prime Minister appears to commit the very sin she accuses Mr Corbyn of:

Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault... just a few days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities we have experienced in the United Kingdom
— Theresa May, 26th May 2017

This misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn's speech, and is arguably itself an attempt to exploit the week's events in Manchester for political gain. 

Someone inside the Labour Party ought to have stopped Jeremy Corbyn making that speech so soon after the attack in Manchester. But someone inside the Conservative Party ought to have stopped Theresa May from co-opting the response to that attack as part of her re-election campaign.

The attack will overshadow much of what remains of this election. But it's to be hoped rival parties can conduct their debate without further exploiting Manchester's raw grief for their own advantage.