THE BLOG

The General Election Campaign Resumes

25/05/2017 17:18 BST | Updated 25/05/2017 17:18 BST

We have heard so many moving words, from Manchester and beyond, insisting that the terrorists will not disrupt our way of life.

But with so many families still grieving after the Manchester attack, so many of the injured still in hospital, campaigners will step warily as they resume the drive for votes.

Some have been affected personally by the terrorist attack. One of them, a former MP, facing a tough battle to hold onto his seat, told me his two daughters were at the Ariana Grande concert and were caught up in the panic and confusion as the bomber struck. They escaped unscathed but witnessed terrible scenes as others lay wounded and dying in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.

He did not want to speak publicly, to identify his teenagers. But he did talk of the difficult balance to be struck. "We have to be sensitive to the feelings of the families but electing a new parliament is central to our democracy", he told me. He said he also wants an "open and honest debate" about the threats to the country and how to tackle them.

Paul Nuttall is certainly prepared to do just that. The UKIP leader has said "it is by prolonging the disruption to normality that we allow the terrorists to win". He is launching his party's manifesto, with an uncompromising message, promising to cut net migration to zero and ban the burka.

So how will the attack affect the campaign? The tone is expected to be more respectful, the exchanges less personal and aggressive, at least for a while.

But it will be not be easy for politicians to continue to show restraint as the rough and tumble of debates and arguments resumes.

There is already controversy over the decision to deploy troops onto the streets, with critics suggesting it is a political gesture.

Will the Tories return to their questioning of whether Jeremy Corbyn can be trusted with the nation's security and risk accusations of seeking political capital from the tragic events in Manchester?

How soon will Labour go back on the attack over the Conservative proposals on social care and pensioners' benefits?

One Labour candidate told me it was inevitable that security would be a real concern for voters and a high priority on the campaign trail. He feared this would play to a right-wing agenda and the Conservatives would turn it to their advantage.

The devastating attack will undoubtedly cast a shadow over the rest of the election campaign.

Tory strategists will hope the pause will allow them to get back to their original script on the choice facing the country. One Conservative candidate told me he would be sticking to what he called a "consistent message". Yes, he meant that well-worn mantra: "strong and stable leadership".