Boris Johnson’s weaponisation of the London Bridge attack has now seriously backfired

Boris Johnson
Tracy Keeling

Boris Johnson has been accused of using the London Bridge attack for political gain, blaming the tragedy on laws brought in by a “leftie government”. Aside from placing the responsibility for the attacker’s release from prison at Labour’s feet, the Conservatives have also announced policies to persuade voters that they’re ‘tough on crime’ in the wake of it.

But this weaponisation of the incident has now backfired. Numerous people, including one of the victims’ fathers, have criticised how the attack is being cynically used.

“Vile propaganda”

One of Usman Khan’s victims in the terrorist attack was Jack Merritt. He worked for the Learning Together programme, which focuses on rehabilitation of prisoners and their reintegration into society after release. Following his son’s murder, Jack’s father David posted the following on Twitter:

My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.

R.I.P. Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.

Neither Johnson nor his cheerleading media heeded that call. In fact, Britain’s media splashed his proposed “blitz” on released prisoners across their front pages. David posted the following in response:

“A lethal combination of arrogance, ineptitude and defensiveness”

An extremism expert has also challenged Johnson’s attempt to blame Labour for the situation. Ian Acheson carried out a review of Islamist extremism in relation to the UK justice system in 2015. Speaking on BBC Radio 4‘s The World This Weekend, he said:

At the heart of this is the destruction of the prison and probation service through crazy, failed, ideological austerity cuts

Acheson claimed ministers “privately acknowledged” such a cause, adding:

We went far too far, far too fast – we are now reaping what we sowed.

On his 2015 extremism review, the expert said he found “a lethal combination of arrogance, ineptitude and defensiveness in Whitehall”. That characterisation was evident in the government’s response to the report’s recommendations. Acheson said the government “conflated” 69 recommendations into just 11 in its official response.

Meanwhile, former Conservative justice minister Phillip Lee has accused Johnson of using “the Trump playbook” in his reaction to the tragedy.

Too late

Justice secretary Robert Buckland has responded to the criticism. On BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme, the minister repeated the lines of attack on Labour. But when asked about whether he was “a little ashamed” of his government’s use of the tragedy for electoral purposes, he said:

I do think we need to pause and get the tone of this debate right.

That’s too little too late from the Conservative government. The party’s instinct – one it acted on – was to use this terrorist attack for political gain. It effectively showed the same level of “arrogance, ineptitude and defensiveness” that Acheson said he found in Whitehall in 2015.

Britain needs and deserves better leadership than that.

Featured image via Guardian News/YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Canary is adeptly assembling snippets of evidence showing Conservative leadership for the past decade as not merely wanting through human ineptitude but actively propelling the UK into dystopia from which Johnson’s cabinet chums and their shadowy backers plan to profit.

      Since Johnson took the helm these snippets have arrived apace. Doubtless there are more to come in the next few days. From the Tory point of view mitigation might arise only after arranging for Johnson to be seen as little as possible and certainly not heard.

      Unfortunately, the Canary’s reach among people not already supporting Corbyn-Labour is very limited. So the question arises as to how the continuing accretion of snippets on Conservative incompetence, malfeasance, mendacity, ill-intention, and downright corruption, may be smeared onto a large canvass whereby their interconnection, linkage through neo-liberalism, may be seen by the electorate at large.

      1. Put simply, unless these snippets and criticisms appear on the front page of the Mail, Sun, Express, Times and (consistently) the BBC, they are going to have little impact on actual or potential Tory voters.

        The question is one of how to get this information out there in a form that is unambiguous and very, VERY visible.

    2. I think the truth is persistant in finding its way around socially. No need to worry about the social mass as a reason to exist. You’d be fooling yourself.
      The Tories or like minded always reach for the weapon to gain control of the social situation. Look at Peterloo.
      Weaponization of a social issue is now the conversation. That and lies, lies, and more lies.
      Since Boris the Conservative showed up there has been nothing but disorder, social strife, and discord. A lawlessness which is found in it’s contempt for parliament.
      How can anyone have faith in lies to bring a peace of mind to the populace.?
      Where is the enlightenment reason from the aristocracy in approaching the challenges of the day?
      It isn’t evident I can see, just a misty memory wrongly claimed by these people as being as reason for its existence.
      A good life is condusive to thought is available to anyone, and I understand this is what the modern world encompasses.

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