3 Days to go: Security dominates the final days

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Officially, politics paused yesterday out of respect to those caught up in the horrifying events around London Bridge.

Some even suggested delaying polling day — but this was never a serious prospect, inevitably handing a form of victory to the kind of bone-headed thug who would carry out, or defend attacks like Saturday’s.

As people woke up to the news, both main parties moved quickly on the issue of security, now set to dominate the remaining days of this campaign.

Theresa May’s speech in Downing Street struck a much tougher tone than her previous remarks on terrorism, suggesting a re-elected Conservative government would seek far more aggressive intervention against radicalisation, and confront Internet companies over the hosting of extremist material:

Labour, meanwhile, focused on police numbers, with Jeremy Corbyn blaming Mrs May for cuts during her time as Home Secretary:

 

 

He highlighted a speech she made to the Police Federation two years ago:

There has been a significant cut in police numbers since 2010, though the Conservatives insist they’ve spent more on anti-terror policing. It’s a potentially huge vulnerability for the party of law and order.

But Labour is on tricky ground when it comes to issues around security. The Tories won’t hesitate to dredge up old photos and quotes from Mr Corbyn over the last 30+ years, highlighting some of the people he’s chosen to associate with.

They have no alternative to taking on this fight — it’s going to be the key issue in the final days of an election campaign that has taken too many tragic turns.

But what’s the answer?

When politicians talk about the Internet, they invariably sound like a bemused grandparent hopelessly prodding an iPhone in the hope it might somehow work.

The Prime Minister talks about confronting firms like Facebook and Google over the hosting of hate-speech, and encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Massive companies, under no real obligation to respect UK law, who will only act if widespread anger at their stance threatens their bottom line.

And the voters? Right now, the public will back the principle of hardline measures. But months from now, will they be as willing to allow the government to peer into every corner of their online lives?

Public admiration for the police and other emergency services is boundless. On Saturday night, they raced into the most dangerous of situations, committing acts of incalculable bravery.

But the public look to the Government to protect them, and give those first responders the resources to do so. They will expect answers to the seemingly continuous threat of random terrorist attack. This is a dangerous time for politicians who are, in their own way, as confused, frightened, defiant and angry as the rest of us.