When the snap election was announced in April it was all about Brexit and who would represent Britain throughout the negotiations. For a while it stayed that way, and the winner seemed inevitable. Theresa May was going to remain Prime Minister with the support of an even larger majority than she already had. But then something happened that tipped the balance: Labour launched their manifesto.
Over the past two weeks support for Jeremy Corbyn has been rising, closing the 20-plus-point lead to single digits. Now polls suggest there could be a hung parliament. It's clear that Theresa May thought Brexit would provide an adequate smokescreen to gain more seats in parliament and solidify the position of the Tory government for a further five years -- note that the next election was scheduled to take place around the time Britain would be formally leaving the European Union. But in hindsight, it seems like a foolish move...
In recent weeks the Conservatives have been diverting attention away from themselves, choosing to launch a foray of attacks against Jeremy Corbyn and try to refocus the argument towards Brexit. Meanwhile, Labour have taken a different route, choosing to primarily focus on equality and issues that are closer to home.
But among the Dementia Tax fiasco, Labour money tree, and chaotic debating, there has been one major issue jumping in and out of the forefront: national security.
Security Hasn't Been Taken Seriously Enough
Even before the dreadful atrocities in Manchester and London Bridge, Jeremy Corbyn was under increasing pressure to condemn the IRA and justify why he held meetings with Sinn Fein throughout the 80s and 90s. The tragic events of 22nd May have only shone more light on the problem; and rightly so. People are scared, and they deserve to know exactly where the next prime minister stands on issues of national security.
Meanwhile, Theresa May has been bombarded with anger at reducing the numbers of police officers on the streets -- since the Conservatives came into power 20,000 police officers have been cut -- even after being warned of potential terrorist threats in 2015 at the Police Federation's annual conference by inspector Damian O'Reilly. At the time May discredited the dangers stating, "This crying wolf has to stop... This scaremongering does nobody any good."
Since Saturday's terrible attacks, May has also come under more public scrutiny for conducting arms deals with Saudi Arabia -- a funding source for Islamist jihadis -- and failing to complete/publish a Home Office inquiry into the issue, with which the contents have been labelled "very sensitive." Tim Farron has since stated, "If the Conservatives are serious about stopping terrorism on our shores, they must stop stalling and reopen the investigation into foreign funding of violent extremism in the UK."
Even now, with the country's terrorist threat level at "severe" -- meaning an attack is highly likely -- politicians on the campaign trail haven't been taking their own personal security seriously enough. For example, 'close protection' has been virtually non-existent (see the following YouTube video). As Corbyn opens the window of an armoured vehicle 'breaking the seal', the armed guards in the BMW X5, simply don't react. Westminster Security, a close protection company in London, commented, "Corbyn shouldn't have lowered the window, he doesn't know the cyclist's intentions. Luckily he was a supporter. Eventually they creeped through the red traffic lights and made a discreet exit from a potentially embarrassing situation." But that's not to say politicians should run scared; far from it. However, it does highlight a somewhat lax attitude towards the issue.
We Must Also Consider Future Digital/EU Security Measures
It's not just the threat of physical terror attacks that we should all be questioning and, subsequently factoring into our decision on June 8th, but also the threat of hacking. The NHS cyber-attack which occurred just a few weeks before the Manchester bombing, showed us just how vulnerable we are. And that's not to mention speculation of the Russians meddling in the US election. With the Internet of Things finding its way into society, hacking and digital terror attacks are only going to become more prevalent in the future. Again, this is another issue that's getting the odd mention, but not serious consideration.
And lest not forget, Britain works closely with other European Union member states in order to combat potential terrorist threats, yet this subject has been overshadowed by what each party considers a "good" trade deal. Like the status of EU migrants living on British soil (and vice versa), surely this is an issue that should have been resolved already?
With just a few days remaining until the election, the Conservatives still have a commanding, but significantly narrowing, lead above Labour. But regardless of the final outcome, one thing's for sure, the political landscape is changing. Brexit and the recent American and French elections prove that people crave something different. Let's just hope we don't strain our relationships with other nations and forget about national security in the process.